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Wonderwall, round two? Microsoft’s MSN and BermanBraun are hoping to duplicate the celebrity site’s success with Glo, a new lifestyle site they are launching today, along with publisher Hachette Filipacchi. Like WonderWall — which BermanBraun and MSN unveiled a year ago — Glo is trying to break into a crowded market, in part by using a striking design.
Instead of the news site-style layout common on some other lifestyle sites, like Yahoo’s Shine, the Glo site is dominated by a giant, magazine-cover like photo — overlaid with teasers to the seven packages of content that are being added to the site each day. As a user scrolls down the page, the features — which cover topics, like favorite items of clothing and items worth buying — show up. Readers can also take individual items and save them to an online “scrapbook.” BermanBraun partner Lloyd Braun tells us that the site is trying to create an “emotional connection” with readers and replicate — online — the “endorphin rush that happens” when someone picks up an Elle-like magazine at a newsstand.
The three companies announced their plans for the site in December — and they have already lined up a number of big-name sponsors, including JC Penney, Vaseline and Fox. MSN is selling the ads, although the companies say they are all working in “close partnership” on the ad front. The companies say they will also soon launch their “own shopping solution” on the page within the next month or so (Currently, links to recommended products go outside of the site).
About half of the content on the site will be original, while the remainder is being provided by Hachette Filipacchi, as well as Sugar and LimeLife. The editorial side of the site is being led by Anne Weintraub, the former online director at Elle, who was also the founding editor of the now defunct Beautyjungle.com. An editorial team is working on the site from BermanBraun’s offices. Weintraub’s approach: “We’re looking at each of these categories (style, beauty, living and relationships) through recreation and fun — this being a happy place, an every day escape for women.” During our chat, I asked Hachette Filipacchi Digital Media SVP Todd Anderman why it made sense for his company to partner with MSN and BermanBraun rather than launch a stand-alone site of its own. His response: “We are focused on the core brands in our portfolio. Glo becomes another one of (those) brands.”
MSN is teasing Glo from the lifestyle vertical on its home page, much like it does Wonderwall from its entertainment vertical. It comes as Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has said “lifestyle” is one of five key verticals it is emphasizing as part of the MSN home page’s recent redesign. And, since increasing Bing’s market share is Microsoft’s top online priority, there are lots of tie-ins to the search engine throughout Glo, including seemingly random thought-provoking quotes in between some features that — surprise! — encourage users to “Bing even more.” “Every possible tie-in to Bing that’s possible, we’ve tried to do,” Braun says.
— David Adds: For the past few years, Hachette Filipacchi has been revamping and streamlining its magazines and related websites. Given the arduous task involved in managing its mag titles, it makes sense for the publisher to get some high profile partnerships as a way of extending its content to new users, while offering advertisers an additional outlet — all without the risk of starting a new online venture on its own.