UrbanBaby Cofounder John Maloney wrote in to comment on my "Local Baby Site" post yesterday. I had complained that I was "confounded" by CNET's acquisition of UrbanBaby.com, since CNET is basically a real good tech site that’s heavily skewed toward geeky men.
The deal’s ad math I understand. UrbanBaby enables CNET to add more young and affluent women to its demographic mix. It makes CNET a more appealing site for advertisers. But what's next — iVillage adding a link to The World Wrestling Federation site? MTV linking to AARP? Slate being added to MSN? Generally, I like to think that sites stand for something.
Maloney begs to differ — and I appreciate the time and thought he put into his reply. (He also reminded me that UrbanBaby won The Kelsey Group's LISA award for "Best Local Vertical" under my watch in 2000.)
Maloney wouldn't put it this way, but basically he thinks I am out of date. CNET broadened its orientation beyond tech more than a year ago, adding such sites as Webshots, a shared photo community.
Moreover, the sale is not just about UrbanBaby cashing in and CNET being opportunistic. CNET's team understands "affinity brands and audiences, and has a great track record for nurturing and developing them," he says.
Besides, UrbanBaby is not "just" a baby site. "UrbanBaby reaches a passionate group of women — who happen to be in the midst of a major life event. These women use our site and boards as the primary source for both parenting and all the others things that are happening in their lives."
And UrbanBaby’s local ad sales, from internal sales channels, do very, very well. "I can’t speak specifically to the revenue breakdown, (but) it’s safe to say local plays a key part of it. We have dozens of recurring local businesses as clients, many of which have renewed annually for the past 3-4 years," he says. Some advertisers have "moved their marketing dollars away from local print."
I haven't really changed my mind about CNET being a good fit for UrbanBaby. But you can. UrbanBaby is a real good site and a pioneer every step of the way. And I have absolutely observed women’s growing use of tech sites — even though this isn’t about technology. Thanks again for the insights, John.