America Online's AOL Studios content unit is launching its second major site simultaneously on the Web and AOL.
Electra, a women's online resource with areas on career, money, mind and body, relationships, style and time-off, follows the launch of the pop culture-oriented Entertainment Asylum from AOL Studios. That site went live at the end of October.
Electra is looking to capture an audience that is already flocking to Hearst New Media and Technology's HomeArts Network, CondƒNet sites including Phys, Epicurious Food and Epicurious Travel, iVillage's women's network (itself a major content provider on AOL), and Wire Networks' Women's Wire. According to Jupiter Communications, the entire women's online audience is 4.6 million on AOL and 15 million on the Web.
"There's room for all of us," said Joy Every, vice president of programming at Electra. The rush to enter the online content race is certainly at a peak for women-oriented sites. Two weeks ago, iVillage launched its women's network divided into many of the same areas as Electra.
One distinct aspect of Electra is the development of characters such as Token Male and Dating Diva, who will answer questions and moderate online discussions. Every, formerly an executive at Turner Pictures and Walt Disney Feature Animation, is planning for those characters to translate into other media through licensing deals similar to AOL's Santa's Home Page, which was spun off into an ABC Christmas special and is airing this week.
Electra is also incorporating celebrities onto the site. Veronica Webb has her own area in the Style section, where she reports on-location and gives fashion and trend advice. In addition, celebrity chat series guests include comedienne Julia Sweeney. Sweeney is what the site terms an "Electra Woman," appearing in an area that chronicles the lives of both famous and not-so-famous extraordinary women.
Of course, Electra's primary goal is to attract advertising. Launch advertisers include Avon, Columbia House, Disney.com, Godiva Chocolatier, Visa and Cosmair's Ralph Lauren Fragrances. Commerce will be a secondary revenue stream.
AOL Studios has already signed deals with FashionMall.com, Global Gourmet, Preview Travel and Shop Thrive. In addition, Disney.com, Avon, American Greetings, Columbia House and others will sell goods online and purchase banners and buttons. Other commerce partners are expected to be announced soon.
The site is being promoted through other AOL co-branded properties, including Entertainment Asylum, Thrive, Moms Online, Astronet and Love AOL. Also, Electra has distribution deals with Netscape Netcaster, Microsoft Active Desktop and AOL's Web site.