To the casual observer, People—a weekly magazine in the ultra-competitive, cluttered, often frantic 24-hour celebrity news category—has in recent years ceded space to popular celebrity bloggers and round-the-clock Web sites like TMZ (like People, owned by Time Warner), Perez Hilton and Defamer.com.
Lots of Competition
But People.com competes in an even broader category, says Fran Hauser, People.com general manager. “We compete with any site that has female readers,” says Hauser. “Eighty-seven percent of our visitors are female. That means we compete with sites like iVillage and Glam.com as well as the blogs.”
Such competition makes its Web real estate, People.com, critical to the magazine’s success. As such, the magazine has been gradually redesigning its site over the last nine months—increasing it’s size by 35 percent—and leveraging what its bloggy competitors don’t always have: access. Along with a dedicated video channel, the magazine launched regular behind-the-scenes franchises online such as its Style Watch channel, red carpet coverage and something called Celebrity Central, an online database that churns out mini-sites for the top 100 celebrities the magazine covers.
All of which adds up to consistent traffic growth (7.4 million unique visitors in September, up from 6.7 million in August, according to comScore Media Metrix) and engagement—24 minutes per visitor per month, Hauser says.
Up next for People.com: an archive. The magazine is taking all of its content—30 years, some 40,000 pages and 1,600-plus covers—and putting it online. “It will give our readers a much deeper experience,” says Hauser. And, like Time’s much-celebrated archive, which debuted in 2005 with great fanfare, People.com’s archive will be ad-supported and free.
Judges Comments: “It kept me reading about Angelina and that’s what this magazine is all about.”