AOL Looks To Put Members On Diet

America Online, which launched a diet and fitness hub last month, has struck a two-year, multimillion-dollar marketing and content deal with eDiets.com, a $20 million-plus online-ad spender.

As part of the relationship, which kicks off this week, eDiets will provide sample meal plans for diets such as the Atkins Nutritional Approach, tools including calorie and carbohydrate counters, and book excerpts. Marketing components of the deal include co-branding, standard and integrated ad placements, and sweepstakes on the AOL channel.

“There is cross-over between AOL membership and eDiets.com’s target,” said Harriet Gallu, eDiets vp of brand marketing. That target is primarily 25- to 54-year-old women who want to lose an average of 50 pounds. eDiets, which also advertises on sites including iVillage, MSN and WebMD, had 204,000 paying subscribers at the end of the first quarter, according to the Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based company.

More than 60 percent of AOL’s 60 million members are women, and 10 million subscribers are on diets, said Tina Sharkey, svp of life management and community at the Dulles, Va.-based Time Warner unit. “What we’re seeing is that Madison Avenue is very receptive to our strategy, and they’re very encouraged by our audience,” she said.

In its forecast for 2004, eDiets, which reported 2003 revenue of $38.3 million, said it expects to boost revenue by 50 percent or more based on its planned investments in advertising. Its online efforts are complemented by a current four-spot television campaign from The Ad Store in New York.