United Online (NSDQ: UNTD), which is trying to turn around its struggling Classmates.com social network, is planning a major revamp of the site, in order to establish it as a resource for “nostalgic content.” During the company’s earnings call Wednesday, CEO Mark Goldston said that while users will still be able to upload their own content and edit profiles, they will soon also be able to access a “vast” amount of “nostalgic content,” including vintage videos, movies, TV shows, commercials, music, magazines and newspapers.
Already, the company has scanned 20,000 high school yearbooks and uploaded them to the site, and Goldston said Classmates expects to put 70,000 online by year-end.
Goldston said the changes would let the social network “enhance the value proposition” for both its paid and free members and also allow it to monetize the site in ways beyond advertising and paid subscriptions. For instance, Goldston said the company would be able to make money through merchandise sales (it’s going to be selling reprinted high school yearbooks), as well as by charging users for day passes to access some of the “nostalgic content.”
As it stands now, United Online’s Classmates Media segment, which includes the social network, is in decline. Goldston, who tends to always be upbeat during the company’s earnings calls, acknowledged Thursday that Classmates faces “challenges from a number of fronts, including the economy, the continued increase and adoption of free social networking features and the maturity of Classmate’s historical value propositions.”
For the quarter, both advertising and subscription revenue at Classmates Media were down by double-digits. Ad revenue dropped to $15.6 million from $19.4 million during the same quarter a year ago, while services revenue dropped to $33.2 million from $38.7 million. The unit has gone through two rounds of layoffs over the last year.