A Redesign’s Afoot for About.com

Portal site About.com will undergo a complete site redesign and editorial re-packaging in the first half of 2004, according to its parent company, Primedia.

Peter Horan, who was named CEO of About.com in December 2003, is planning the makeover with an eye to increasing visit frequency and page views, according to the company’s fourth quarter earnings report.
The revamp makes sense given new leadership both at About.com and at Primedia. The parent company’s president and CEO Kelly Conlin just came on board last October, to replace the interim CEO appointed at Tom Rogers’ departure.

The rebranding is part of a reorganization at Primedia creating four new business units. About.com, along with all of the company’s consumer magazines and their Web sites, fall into the Enthusiast Media unit. Other groups include Consumer Guides, Business Information and Education and Training. The shakeup was announced Thursday along with Primedia’s fourth quarter 2003 earnings, which notched a small profit of $4 million, or 2 cents per share.

Primedia is initiating “the largest product upgrade” in the company’s history, Conlin said, and About.com’s makeover is part of it.

About.com isn’t the only Primedia Web site getting a revamp. Primedia will extend its current advertising partnership with Google across all the company’s Web sites to maximize its contextual advertising offerings, Conlin said. That move comes as part of Primedia’s October 2003 deal with Google which had the publishing company sell its own contextual ad unit, Sprinks, to its competitor.

Primedia’s About.com and its magazine-branded Web sites are the 10th most visited collection of consumer Web sites in the U.S., according to a 2003 report by Nielsen//Net Ratings.

This is by no means the first redesign effort for the major portal. About.com has undergone many changes since its 1997 launch as the Mining Company, though it still retains its unique guide offerings, with content areas moderated by experts in various subjects.

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