Food for Thought | Adweek
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Food for Thought

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NEW YORK The upcoming launch of Mixingbowl.com represents Meredith Corp.'s first attempt at creating an independent social network. Mixingbowl takes the approach that authentic community building must happen outside the digital spinoffs of its established print products, which include Better Homes and Gardens and Parents.

The site provides a venue for consumers to share recipes and connect with others on food-related community groups. Due to launch in late November, Mixingbowl is powered by technology company Ripple6, which has built local mom networks for Gannett Co. and a health information site for Procter & Gamble.

"With the branded sites -- all the different needs people come to us for, creating a very pure environment that looks and feels like it's built for the consumer -- that kind of authenticity of intent is necessary," said Dan Hickey, Meredith's vp, digital content. Mixingbowl, by contrast, is "really about the world of peer-to-peer recipes. It's a social network around meals and meal planning."

Mixingbowl has many other established food sites to compete with, of course. But, Hickey elaborated, it gives users unique tools for tapping into the community -- enabling them, for example, to form invitation-only groups for event planning.

The site also differs in its ad sales model. Understanding that advertisers want to get closer to consumers, the site will let marketers form groups of their own, enabling them to distribute coupons and recipes.

In the push to build community and generate advertising opportunities by harnessing content created by audiences, various magazines have solicited reader photos and feedback (National Geographic, Parents), created issues that are entirely reader-generated (This Old House, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel) and started weaving community elements through their Web sites (Woman's Day).