Friday, June 01, 2007

Time Inc. Waves to Gossip Sites on Its Way to the Bank

"While gossip among women is universally ridiculed as low and trivial, gossip among men, especially if it is about women, is called theory, or idea, or fact."

Andrea Dworkin

Time Inc. Waves to Gossip Sites on Its Way to the Bank
Ann Moore heads one of the most traditional, sprawling, old-school magazine publishing companies - and says she's not at all worried about scrappy upstart gossip Web sites.

"Smaller gossip sites think they are big and powerfull . . . but get out of the way. The People editors are coming," said Ms. Moore, the chairman and CEO of Time Inc., another Time Warner property, may currently attract the most unique monthly visitors, she said, but brands like People are more valuable from a business stand point. And that translates to fierce loyalty when readers go online: She said the average reader of views 71 pages during a visit. "You don't see that on any other celebrity site."

While sites like TMZ and are famous for their snarky comments, Ms. Moore said taking the high road - or at least a slightly higher road - is better for business. "We still fact check, we are not mean spirited and we are accurate," she said. "You can't make as much money in the mean-spirited arena. I'll leave that to someone else." Ms. Moore said advertisers want to buy celebrity news that is "safe."

"It is definitely not too late for the big [print] brands to establish their brands on the Internet," Ms. Moore said, noting that People waited until last year to shift from a subscription model to a free, ad-based site. She waited to make the change until there was enough online advertising to support the business, a shift that occurred in 2006.

And she said the move has paid off: got some 17.5 million page views when it reported Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were expecting a baby, 25 million when Baby Shiloh was born, 28 million following the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and a whopping 51.7 million page views following the Oscars.

And in case those numbers didn't convey her point, Ms. Moore summed up: "People is the most powerful magazine, and the most profitable magazine, on the planet."

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