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Hearst Looks for Traffic Jam

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With the launch of digital-only brands RealBeauty.com and Delish.com behind it, Hearst has now begun to turn its attention to its magazines’ Web brands.

On April 8, Popular Mechanics‘ Web site will relaunch with more video and interactive tools. And this summer, Hearst’s network of teen-related sites will relaunch around Seventeen.com, with other sites, like CosmoGirl.com, functioning as its channels. The site grouping will add social networking features, video and a variety of content in order to reduce confusion—and increase time spent.

“Historically, we had content that was directly competitive [to itself],” said Chuck Cordray, svp, general manager, Hearst Magazines Digital Media.

Cordray said Hearst’s magazine sites are critical to feeding the digital-only sites’ content, which will in turn send traffic back to the magazines’ sites. “By competing in pure digital ways, we think we [can] keep our sites and approaches fresh,” Cordray said, estimating more than 15 percent of digital’s traffic comes from cross-promotion.

Traffic is up 30 percent year over year, and for first-half 2010, digital ad revenue will be up the same amount, said Cordray.