Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Time Inc to Launch Food Portal MyRecipes.com

Southern Progress Bakes MyRecipes.com
Southern Progress joins the culinary feeding frenzy, serving up a new portal in May called MyRecipes.com

BY Lucia Moses

For all the obsession with cooking shows, culinary schools and winery tours, the question still looms for most home cooks at the end of the day: What should I make for dinner? Many are finding the answer online. Of the 10 biggest food and cooking Web sites that were around a year ago,

eight have since shown double-digit audience growth.

Now, Time Inc. is looking to get a slice of the online pie with MyRecipes.com, a new food portal from its Southern Progress Corp. unit. The site, whose launch is set to be announced this week, serves up 25,000 recipes, pulling mainly from Southern Progress' Cooking Light, as well other Time Inc. titles, including Southern Living, Sunset, Coastal Living, Health and Real Simple. The site also offers daily menus and how-to videos and lets users create and share recipe and menu files with fellow cooks.

"It will let people find quick and easy solutions for everyday meals, entertaining, healthy how-to," said Michael Gutkowski, senior vp and general manager of SPC Digital, a new division.

The site grew out of Time Inc.'s strategy to grow its magazine brands in part by developing data-rich vertical sites, home/food being one of them. Gutkowski said Southern Progress plans to launch a home portal later this year.

Gutkowski said he expects MyRecipes to attract food ads as well as automotive, pharmaceutical, auto, consumer electronics and financial services, as part of print and stand-alone online buys. Launch clients include Hewlett-Packard, Weber Grill and GlaxoSmithKline.

To make MyRecipes one of the top-visited food sites, Gutkowski has a tall order; there are already nine sites with more than 2 million unique monthly visitors, per Nielsen//NetRatings (which, like Mediaweek, is owned by The Nielsen Co.). At the top is the Food Network, with more than 8 million uniques. Yahoo's food site, launched in November, now ranks No. 7, per NetRatings. Among magazine-related sites, only Reader's Digest Association's Allrecipes.com cracks the top 10, with 5.1 million unique visitors.

"It's a cluttered category," said Jeff Ratner, managing partner, digital director, MindShare North America, which has client Unilever advertising on MyRecipes. He said MyRecipes' ability to maximize search engines and be useful to users will be key to its success. "Utility is going to be critical." Ratner added that MyRecipes has a couple of advantages, though: It could leverage the Cooking Light brand and traffic to Time Inc.'s large network of Web sites, which Gutkowski plans to tap into.

Gutkowski said MyRecipes also would differentiate itself in a few ways. Southern Progress will create daily original video content starting this summer, initially animating Cooking Light's Dinner Tonight feature. Some food sites recycle TV video, with mixed success, but MyRecipes' video will be created solely for the site, he said. He also pointed out that recipes are kitchen-tested by experts, in contrast to many other sites, whose recipes are vetted by home cooks. The recipe search tool lets users search by 150 categories and will be upgraded in the fall to let people more effectively narrow their searches. The site also will offer robust social networking and user-generated content.

"Clearly the competition is stiff, and there are some really fabulous sites out there," he said. "[With] People.com and CNN and Real Simple, I think there's some great integration points that will enable us to create great awareness and drive people back to MyRecipes."

No comments: