Meredith Corp. acquires Healia

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Media and marketing company Meredith Corp. has acquired Healia, a consumer health search engine specializing in finding high quality and personalized health information online. Acquisitions like this allow diversified media companies to reshape the traditional print publishing business.

More and more traditional media companies are investing in online media properties to diversify their revenue mix. Some examples are Fox's purchase of MySpace, Hachette Filipacchi's purchase of the jump-start Web sites and Reed Business buying BuyerZone.com.

"This trend is gaining speed and is likely to increase dramatically over the next few years, as most major diversified media companies invest in online media properties to tap into new revenue growth and continue to service their advertisers and readers," said Tolman Geffs, managing director at Jordan, Edmiston Group Inc., a New York investment bank that represented Healia in this transaction.

In addition, the demand for health information has exploded, and women seem to be the most concerned. Meredith reaches more than 75 million American women on a monthly basis through publishing, broadcasting and online media brands and services.

"We believe this acquisition further strengthens our reach and capabilities in the digital delivery systems," said Patrick Taylor, a Meredith spokesman. "As the leading publisher of information for women, we believe Healia enables us to further build our connection with them by delivering the most relevant and personal health information available. It also creates further opportunities for us to expand our trusted health information through Healia's search technology."

This acquisition marks the first major search engine purchase for the publisher. Other recent purchases include marketing services firms O'Grady Meyers, Genex and New Media Strategies. Additionally, the company has redesigned its Better Homes and Gardens site and launched its first broadband video channel, Better.tv. Next month, Meredith will launch a new parents' portal, Parents.com, as well as its second broadband channel, Parents.tv.

"By acquiring Healia we rapidly advance our leadership in [search] without having to build this capability from the ground up," Mr. Taylor said.

In the coming months, the Healia technology will be integrated into Meredith's existing sites. In addition, Meredith and Healia will expand the functionality of Healia.com and will offer the technology through licensing and distribution agreements with select health organizations, consumer sites, employers and other premier partners.

Vertical search is a growing online marketing platform. Healia is well positioned in that market, presenting consumers a means of narrowing search results by gender, age and racial/ethnic group, as well as contextual filters for consumers to focus their search for prevention, causes/risks, symptoms, diagnosis/tests, treatment or side effects. These capabilities provide opportunities for demographic and contextual targeting of health consumers.

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