Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New CondeNet site targets
lucrative teen girl market
By Jose de Wit
FIU Student Journalist

Sarah Chubb kicked off this year's Editor&Publisher/Mediaweek Interactive Media Conference with a keynote address. She talked about the "same set of issues" that all media organizations are dealing with today - namely, how quickly technology, consumer tastes and the media landscape are changing - and how her company, CondeNet, is tackling those issues.

Media outlets on the web face two major challenges, Chubb said. First, they must figure out what people want on the 'net to stand out in an increasingly crowded and fragmented media landscape. Second, and just as difficult, they need to make online advertising relevant to consumers, and please the advertisers.

Chubb has been doing this since she helped launch the company's first Web site,, in September, 1995. The site contains content for Conde Nast's two food magazines, Gourmet and Bon Appetit. The first step, before launching the site, she said, was to answer one question: "If you love food and cooking, what would you want a computer and the connectivity of the internet to do for you?"

From its inception, has been at the head of the pack, encouraging community-created content--it's been using Web 2.0 since 1996, before the term had even been invented. "The community was sharing recipes, holding cooking contests, with little help from us, even though the technology was clunky," Chubb said.

Today, CondeNet uses the same approach - figuring out what the consumer will want on the Internet ahead of time - and creating new sites.

Chubb presented CondeNet's new website,, which does both of these, all while targeting one of the most challenging demographics: teenage girls. is a social networking site, but unlike MySpace and Facebook, it doesn't focus on profiles. Instead, it lets users make digital scrapbooks, or "flipbooks."

Using new technology by Adobe, users can drag and drop images, music, wallpaper and other content onto the pages of their flipbooks. Each user can make multiple flipbooks - about events, trips, hobbies, anything - and share them with friends.

To please advertisers, integrates advertising into the flipbooks themselves. Girls are encouraged to "clip" images from online ads and paste them onto, say, a flipbook about fashion. Also, users are allowed to pick from among a pool of advertisers to decide which company's ads will appear on their flipbook.