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Yahoo takes a Shine to the majority

Times Staff Writer

Yahoo Inc. is making a fresh appeal to a key demographic: women.

Launching today is Shine, a Yahoo website aimed at women between the ages of 25 and 54. It will delve into fashion and beauty, entertainment, parenting, work and other areas of interest to women.

Yahoo’s future is uncertain in the wake of Microsoft Corp.'s takeover bid. But the Sunnyvale, Calif., Internet giant is continuing to launch new products in pursuit of advertising dollars. With Shine, it’s banking that its highly trafficked brand, which has created such popular destinations as Yahoo Finance, Sports and News, can make a similar play for women.

Shine will collect content from women’s magazines and bloggers in a one-stop shop with a distinctive voice, said Brandon Holley, who joined Shine as its editor in chief from stints at Elle Girl and Jane. Yahoo’s Santa Monica-based media group is launching it.

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“Shine is going to be a magnet for women looking to come to one place to get the best information built for women,” she said.

Women constitute a desirable audience for online marketers in part because they outnumber men. There are 81 million U.S. women aged 18 and older on the Internet compared with 77.8 million men, researcher EMarketer Inc. found.

And websites targeted specifically toward women are drawing big traffic. Nearly 74 million people visited such sites in February, up 43% over the same period a year earlier, according to Web measurement firm ComScore Media Metrix. Overall Web traffic grew only 5% during that time.

Top players targeting women Web surfers include Glam Media, iVillage.com from NBC Universal, AOL Living and Everyday Health, according to ComScore. Other hot properties are BlogHer, a network of women bloggers started by a trio of Bay Area women entrepreneurs, and Sugar Inc., a women’s online media network that includes celebrity-gossip site PopSugar.

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This month, a group of high-powered women, including gossip columnist Liz Smith, television journalist Leslie Stahl and political pundit Peggy Noonan, launched Wowowow.com, a site for upscale women over 40.

The challenge for newcomers: to gain traction in a fiercely competitive market in which established destinations have long been entrenched.

Yahoo says it has an edge because of the vast quantity of data on Web users it has accumulated, particularly from the about 40 million women between the ages of 25 and 54 who visit its websites each month. The company calls women “chief household officers,” who influence or make purchasing decisions for themselves and their families.

“We know what they are looking for and what they click on,” said Amy Iorio, vice president and general manager of Yahoo Lifestyles, part of the media group.

That could be valuable to advertisers, particularly in the packaged goods, pharmaceuticals and retail categories. Those three combined are expected to spend more than $1.8 billion on online ads this year, according to research firm TNS Media Intelligence.

Yahoo will be able to tap the power of its brand, relationships with magazine publishers and major advertisers, EMarketer senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson said. The challenge will be keeping women coming back.

“They have a better chance of drawing an audience compared with a brand-new company trying to stake a claim,” she said.

Yahoo plans to let Shine visitors write blog posts, and the editors will feature some of the best on the home page.

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Stephanie Quilao, who writes a blog called Back in Skinny Jeans and got an early preview of Shine, said the prospect of being featured by one of the world’s biggest websites made her “excited like Carrie Bradshaw seeing the new line of Manolos.”

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jessica.guynn@latimes.com


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