WebMD Wants to Be Known for More Than Just Medical Information

Bulks up on lifestyle programming

For its first appearance at the Digital Content NewFronts, WebMD is trying to shift from being a site known for medical diseases and conditions (or a feared destination, if you're a hypochondriac) to lifestyle content.

During WebMD's presentation at its headquarters in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, the site told media buyers that it's cranking out videos in four areas that brands can run their ads alongside: food, beauty, fitness and baby.

"When people traditionally think of WebMD, they might think more about diseases and conditions, but the fact that we have such a strong, dedicated following in the healthy lifestyle space is something that we want to shine a light on," Kristy Hammam, editor in chief of WebMD, told Adweek before today's event. "Whether it's about what you want to eat for breakfast or the best workout routine, these are topics that are important to your health, important to everyone."

WebMD unveiled a total of 15 new series today, including programming partnerships with Robin Roberts' Rock' n Robin Productions and Soledad O'Brien's Starfish Media to produce long-form content.

With Starfish Media, for example, WebMD recently created a three-part series about teen stress.

Other short-form series are focused on how-to and explainer videos.

The publisher backs up its investments with data. In March, WebMD had 76 million monthly visitors, half of which came to the site to browse for healthy living and lifestyle content. On mobile, views are up 160 percent year over year.

The site also throws out a few broad stats to emphasize its focus on lifestyle. It reaches 10.4 million millennial moms and 34 million women who have "defined skincare routines." Both groups are accessing content mostly on mobile. 

With those stats in mind, WebMD's presentation was particularly aimed at consumer-packaged-goods advertisers looking to capitalize on content consumed on smartphones.

"WebMD has been creating video for more than a decade, but what we've really been doing recently is increasing the volume of video in a substantial way," Hammam said. "There is such a growing demand for video, particularly among the number of people who are accessing from their mobile devices."

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