With eyes firmly fixed on the online teen market, Hearst Magazine’s digital unit on Monday announced the acquisition of eCrush.com, a group of entertainment and social networking sites for teenagers. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
With the transaction, Hearst Magazines Digital Media gets an advertiser-friendly network of sites that include eCrush.com, eSpin.com, LookUpHookUp.com, TruthQuiz.com and HighSchoolStyleBoard.com.
The company said the expansion into the teen Internet space will enable marketers to advertise on any of the Hearst-owned teen sites and the opportunity to buy packages across the network, getting their message to millions of young adults.
Based in Chicago, Ill., eCrush.com is a pioneer in the teenage Internet space, specializing in viral marketing and peer-to-peer socializing. The privately held company, which launched in 1999, claims a unique and proprietary “Lock & Key” advertising program that delivers a method for gaining teens’ attention in advertiser programs.
The bulk of eCrush.com’s one million unique monthly visitors are between 13 and 19 years old, a lucrative but tricky demographic for marketers.
The Web sites in the eCrush.com network includes a “crush’ site that lets users find out anonymously if someone feels the same way about them; eSpin.com, a social network built around safe online flirting; and HighSchoolStyleBoard, a photo-rating site.
According to Chuck Cordray, vice president and general manager of Hearst Magazines Digital Media, the company’s mission is to be visible to teenagers “everywhere they turn” on the Internet. “[This deal lets us broaden our presence in the online arena for teens and become a true destination for everything from fashion and beauty to advice and community,” Cordray added.
Hearst has also created a new site called MyPromShopper.com, a comprehensive prom-planning destination that combines editorial content from its CosmoGIRL!, Seventeen and Teen properties.
MyPromShopper was created for Hearst by New York-based design shop Syrup. It will feature a notebook widget to let teenage girls store cool-looking dresses and online tools to create an outfit and publish content to third party sites like MySpace and Facebook.
The big push into the teenage Internet space also includes new Web sites for its three teen magazines – CosmoGIRL.com, Seventeen.com, and Teenmag.com – which will feature interactive content, photos, video, podcasts, and an overall design unique to each magazine property.