Time Inc. Does Social Networking

When asked at yesterday afternoon’s presentation at the Time Inc. Digital Showcase what was the most difficult property to integrate online, Time Inc. executive vice president John Squires answered, candidly, “Time was a challenge.” Acknowledging that the mag was late to the digital political ballgame, Squires noted that the site had recently hired Mark Halperin to help with their 2008 Presidential campaign coverage. Squires emailed FishbowlNY, clarifying, “Time [is] realizing its position as providing the ‘why’ behind the headlines. [It is] a deep, analytical site that give you a full understanding of the implications of important news events.”

“Getting the Web right is no different from getting a magazine right,” Squires noted at the presentation, “We believe there is no challenge we can’t overcome.”

Also presenting in the sunlight-filled Luce Room was People.com’s Mark Golin. Lightening the mood considerably, Golin asked the central question any online celebrity property ought to be asking itself: ‘Yes, she’s pregnant, but where do we go next?’ which drew some laughter. Golin also spoke about the transition of going from a “magazine staff” to a “magazine and dotcom staff” in translating old media into new, adding that People now does twice as many stories as it has ever done.

Engagement” and “Social Networking” were the most often repeated words this afternoon. When asked about the rise of engagement — or, the length of time spent on a site — as a key metric, Squires brought up the advantages of Time Inc’s “deep content library.” “It will keep people longer,” he said, “and we’re seeing that.

The deep content library was most evident in the presentation of MyRecipe.com, brought to you from the people behind Southern Progress, an overlooked division — to this blogger anyway — of Time Inc. Southern Progress, which has a history dating back to 1886 is going digital, with aspirations of being “The Food Authority.” Without marketing, Steve Zales, senior vice president of SPC Digital noted, MyRecipes.com is already the third most popular food site in the minutes per user category. Time Inc. is now getting behind the site. By leveraging their recipe database — culled from Southern Progress properties like “Cooking Light” and “Southern Living” — as well as user-generated content (i.e. recipe exchange, vblogging) and food photography, they hope to make inroads into the lucrative online recipe vertical and that all-important demographic: the household food shopper.

Sandwiched between Golin’s People.com and MyRecipes.com was Paul Fichtenbaum‘s FanNation.com presentation, which, he told the crowd, “launched April 23rd,” and, by the 25th, he “went to (his boss) to try to integrate other verticals.” Fichtenbaum, the managing editor of SI.com, referred to “talk radio” and sports bars,” when discussing FanNation’s aspirations, a sea change from the old Time Warner. “Next month, [Time Inc.] is leveraging the entire fantasy [league] from SI to FanNation.” Fichtenbaum also noted that FanNation gets 30 million page views per month and 4 million unique viewers in that same period.

— Ron Mwangaguhunga