Waterfront Media Launches new Health Site

Diet and wellness publishers Waterfront Media have launched a new health-focused Web site, EverydayHealth.com.

The ad-supported site allows users to customize health-related content, getting advice from the site’s subject-matter experts and fellow users with similar health concerns. The site has 3 million registered users at launch, all of whom signed up for EverydayHealth.com on one of Waterfront’s other sites, which include SouthBeachDiet.com, MyOptimumHealthPlan.com and WhattoExpect.com.

“When a user signs up for the site, they might tell us they’re at risk for diabetes, concerned about heart disease, and over 50. The site is organized around connecting similar types of users,” Waterfront’s co-founder and CEO Ben Wolin told ClickZ. “For advertisers, we’re a great place to reach a large number of consumers organized by their conditions.”

The site offers several rich media ad units, and will begin offering pre-roll video ads in the fall, according to Wolin. Advertisers can target ads to users based on their profiles, or by showing ads in specific content areas of the site. Because the site has such targeted content areas, and has users’ self-supplied information about what topics they are interested in, advertisers are able to target their ads very specifically, Wolin told ClickZ.

“Having that profile data really differentiates us to advertisers,” he said.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the advertisers so far are pharmaceutical companies. The site has deals in place with five of the top 10 pharma companies, Wolin said, and is working on agreements with the remaining ones. Some of the sponsorship deals are exclusive, so a single advertiser will own a particular “condition center,” covering certain aspects of a topic like women’s health, digestive health, or mental health. For example, the Bipolar Disorder Center has an exclusive advertiser in AstraZeneca.

Besides the sponsorships and display ads, the company also plans to work closely with advertisers to develop “advertorial” opportunities, which will give advertisers, especially pharmaceutical manufacturers, a venue to talk about some of the health problems their products address, while explaining the benefits of their products. Wolin stressed that the origin of this kind of content will be clearly marked on the site.

The company plans to reach out to other advertisers as well, but sees the pharma companies as a logical first step, he said. All ads are sold by Waterfront’s in-house team, which handles sales for its other sites, including SouthBeachDiet.com, MyOptimumHealthPlan.com and WhattoExpect.com.

Waterfront plans to continue recruiting users from its other sites, and will begin a search marketing campaign in the fall, Wolin said. For now, the company is focusing on getting the word out to advertisers through a PR campaign and other outreach efforts, he said.

Health-focused portals are poised to be the next big vertical market online. Besides existing players like WebMD, EverydayHealth will have to contend with Revolution, a consumer health site backed by former AOL founder Steve Case, the rebranded HealthCentral Network from Choice Media, and a string of smaller players.

According to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more Americans are turning online for health information. According to the March 2005 survey, 12 percent of online adults, or 17 million people, said the Internet played a crucial or important role as they helped another person cope with a major illness, while 7 million said the Internet played a crucial or important role as they themselves coped with a major illness.

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