In the latest switch in its flip-flopping web strategy, Hearst’s National Magazine Company is ditching the GetLippy.com brand, replacing it with Company.co.uk, which doesn’t currently have its own site. NatMags took on GetLippy.com when it bought Handbag.com’s network of four women’s sites from Telegraph Media Group in 2006, and made it the “sister website” to Company. But now the big sister will take over from August 5.
GetLippy.com had been one of five online-only pubs NatMag’s Hearst Digital had been running in a division separate unit from its mag sites since late 2007, but Hearst Digital was closed as a separate entity in April, when NatMags axed up to a fifth of its staff in a cost review.
The restructure put websites back under control of mag brand publishers – Company publishing director Meribeth Parker, editor Victoria White and web editor Clare Gill got responsibility for GetLippy.com and have decided the Company print brand should take precedence.
NatMags says this is a “relaunch”, “redesign” and a re-naming. But right now, a reader visiting GetLippy.com would hardly know it were allied with the magazine, so this is a more wholesale change than that; it also widens the target group from 18-24 women to 18-30s.
UK magazine in the last three years have flip-flopped from wanting individual sites based on existing magazine brands to embracing online with portals that group their related print titles, from having separate web/print teams to having integrated crew. The move makes sense – existing printed mags already have brand identification.
It was only in February 2008 that Hearst Digital decided to kill the separate websites for its Good Housekeeping, Country Living, House Beautiful and Coast mags, moving them in to Allaboutyou.com, a new super-portal for domestic goddesses who like both the countryside and beaches. One must wonder whether those magazines may now get their sites back – and what will happen to Handbag.com.
Other publishers on the portal trail are IPC (which consolidated content from Home & Gardens, Ideal Home and Living etc in the HouseToHome site), Emap (which was planning a fashion portal based on its fashion titles) and Future (which is busily grouping its titles under new brands like BikeRadar, GamesRadar, MusicRadar, TechRadar and PhotoRadar).