Hearst tries to catch Buzz from Yahoo

In an effort to heighten brand awareness of its online and print magazine titles, Hearst Magazines Digital Media will participate in Yahoo Buzz.

Yahoo Buzz allows readers to vote on the popularity of online stories. Yahoo then posts the winners on its homepage. Hearst has signed on 10 of its titles, including Esquire, Cosmopolitan and Redbook, as Buzz content partners.

When a reader clicks through the Yahoo homepage to a Hearst article, the magazine’s site serves promotions for a variety of other Hearst offerings, such as recipes, videos and other articles. The sites also promote their print counterparts with special offers on subscriptions.

“Selling subscriptions is a critical part of Hearst’s strategy, but online ad revenue supports our site,” said Chris Johnson, VP, content and business development, for HMD. “Last year, 1.5 million net paid subscriptions signed up on the sites specifically, and that, more than anything, demonstrates the vitality of magazines in the digital world.

“More than 80% of people who bought magazines online last year were not people we had in our marketing database,” he continued, “so they were not people that we were able to reach through traditional direct marketing channels.”

Yahoo Buzz will show headlines and abstracts that link back to Hearst sites whenever Hearst articles are among the most popular. In return, Hearst sites will include “Buzz Up” voting buttons on article tool bars, allowing readers to vote directly from the magazine site.

Buzz is just one of several online marketing programs in Hearst’s queue. The company is also providing content for Yahoo Answers, AOL Home and MSN’s lifestyle channel. Hearst has also partnered with Clearspring to build widgets for its The Daily Green and Seventeen sites. The widgets will help to embed the magazines’ content into social networks, aggregators and blogs.

“Hearst has participated in a variety of programs with social news or social bookmarking – Digg, Delicious, Reddit and Facebook, for example — and has seen increased success,” said Johnson. “When Hearst articles are featured on the Yahoo homepage, even for short periods of time, it drives as much traffic to the site as an entire months’ worth of organic traffic.

“Buzz is different from other social sites because it brings the power and scale of Yahoo,” he added. “It’s a chance to get our great content in front of Yahoo users who have already demonstrated interest.”

Two Hearst articles, both from Esquire.com, have already experienced increased traffic from Yahoo’s 500 million users: after being featured on the Yahoo homepage, the articles received 1.3 million click-throughs. Esquire had total paid circulation of 721,133 as of June 30, 2007. The December 2007 Fas-Fax report places the number at 721,217.

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