Since NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) acquired iVillage for $600 million four years ago, the women’s content network has tried a variety of ways to make good on that deal. After several brand restarts, NBCU brought in Readers Digest Association’s global digital head Jodi Kahn 18 months ago to finally put the network on better course. To do that, Kahn has been been on a hiring and site-launch spree the past few months. On the hiring end, she has tapped publishing vets like Glam Media’s Joe Lagani to run ad sales, while she has reformed iVillage’s verticals, like entertainment, into fuller sites.
Like the other four that have appeared after iVillage’s Entertainment site launch in September, both the Pregnancy and Beauty channels offer the promise of personalization tools, along with a mix of straightforward editorial and community features draped with e-commerce functions. While she declined to discuss how the pending Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) acquisition of a 51 percent stake in NBC would affect her moves going forward, in a phone interview with paidContent, Kahn said she’s sticking to the basic playbook she outlined when she started the job: Do as much research as possible, followed by a lot of testing and then see what works. The following is an edited version of our conversation.
paidContent: There are a lot of sites for new moms and makeover how-to’s. What’s different about these two new sites?
Jodi Kahn: As was the case for the other sites we launched over the past several months — Entertainment, Food, Astrology, Health — we did a variety of research that told us what women really wanted from the web. They wanted a mix of expert opinion and community and they wanted to find it all quickly and easily. That’s not something that most sites offer.
Specifically, the Pregnancy site is focusing on topics that range from getting pregnant to having a family, all the issues of dealing with children through the tween and teen years. We