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Smells like `zine spirit: On-line girl mag network grows ad clout

Teen Net nerd-ettes are hitting the Web as a united front these days, thanks to the efforts of a fledgling on-line `zine network called ChickClick. Launched in February 1998, the umbrella site (www.chickclick.com) consolidates hip girl Web sites into a giant...
July 1, 1999

Teen Net nerd-ettes are hitting the Web as a united front these days, thanks to the efforts of a fledgling on-line `zine network called ChickClick. Launched in February 1998, the umbrella site (www.chickclick.com) consolidates hip girl Web sites into a giant revenue-sharing advertising force that garners an average of 35 million page views each month.

Big-name advertisers that have glommed onto these hefty eyeball tallies (including Procter & Gamble, Sony Music, The WB, Columbia TriStar, J Crew and Esprit) are drawn to ChickClick because it’s an effective tool for tapping into a female audience ages 13 to 35. ‘Ninety-three percent of our visitors are young women,’ says Heidi Swanson, ChickClick’s 25-year-old founder, ‘and since advertisers pick and choose which sites they want to appear on, they can hone in on really specific age and geographic demos.’

Brisbane, California-based ChickClick offers its affiliates a 50/50 split on all ad dollars generated by their sites, meaning that fave femme-`zines like Maxi, Hissyfit, Riotgrrl and Bust are currently earning four figures a month. Swanson hopes these revenues will jump to five figures later this summer when ChickClick launches six new content channels, including a women’s news service called SheWire and a teen channel that will lump all of ChickClick’s current teen Web sites into a unified area.

According to Swanson, the growing teen push in the entertainment biz has already played out in ChickClick’s advertising (pre-launch banners for Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Cruel Intentions and I Know What You Did Last Summer), so beefed up teen content must follow. ‘[The Net] is the perfect medium for teen girls because they don’t need a car to participate,’ she says. ‘It’s like the phone, but better because they can swap Jpegs.’

The network has also signed on as a top-level sponsor (along with Chevrolet and Tommy Girl cologne) for Lilith Fair, the Sarah McLachlan-spawned summer concert tour that’s been dubbed the Lollapolooza for girls. In addition to providing e-mail service for the 40-gig summer event, ChickClick will be in attendance at every show, and will broadcast tour highlights on its Web site.

ChickClick was spun off from parentco Imagine Media in February to form Affiliation Networks, a Web entity that will provide content for the so-called ‘Internet Generation’ of 12- to 29-year-olds. The three other affiliates in the net quartet are gaming network IGN, entertainment site The Den and the Power Students Network. The ‘network of networks’ will share a technological infrastructure, as well as ads and sponsorships.

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