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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A home online for women, girls

By Barabara Woller
Westchester (N.Y.) Journal News

Andrea Bloome plays with her 5-month-old son, Joey, in their home. Bloome uses the Web site iVillage.com to get information about many subjects, including child development.

STUART BAUER | Westchester (N.Y.) Journal News

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Andrea Bloome wanted to know if her 5-month-old son, Joey, was at the proper stage of development for his age.

"I was not worried, just curious," says Bloome, who is chief executive of DTG Productions, a Web and sound studio she operates out of her home in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. "I wanted to see how he's doing and how he compares to other children."

So she recently did a Web search, and a link to the iVillage Web site (www.iVillage.com) was one of the first to come up.

Not only did Bloome learn that Joey's development was on target, but she says she was delighted to find out that he was actually "a little advanced."

The Web site is part of iVillage Inc., which owns online and offline media-based properties that aim to enrich the lives of women and teenage girls.

It also could be subject to a takeover by a traditional communications/entertainment company that is looking to expand its online presence, according to reports in The Financial Times of London.

This is happening at a time when those traditional companies are looking to expand their presence online, partly because advertisers are migrating toward the Internet.

For example, in the fourth quarter of 2005, the site drew advertising dollars from blue-chip companies such as American Express, AstraZeneca, Citibank, Kraft, Pfizer and Procter & Gamble.

iVillage Inc. did not respond to requests for comment.

The company's offline holdings include Lamaze Publishing Inc. and the Newborn Channel, a satellite television network that provides exclusive programs to new moms in hospital rooms.

And the iVillage Web site covers subjects such as fitness, parenting, beauty, health, entertainment, diet, style, relationships and pregnancy through unique content, interactive features and video.

ComScore Media Metrix, which measures Internet audiences, reports that last month the site had about 14.5 million unique visitors.

Women visit the site for different reasons.

Yvette Jones of Elmsford, N.Y., designs and makes handcrafted jewelry with beads, semiprecious stones and silver. Jones says iVillage.com shows what is new in fashion, colors and accessories so she can incorporate them in her jewelry.

Kristin Krauskopf, a certified public accountant in Tuckahoe, N.Y., says she had visited iVillage to research a health issue when her sister-in-law was very ill.

"She had picked up hepatitis C from a blood transfusion," Krauskopf says. "We were so in the dark. The whole family was really in the dark. What did it mean that she had hepatitis C? What were the treatments?"

Krauskopf says in addition to information about the disease, the site had links to other relevant sites.

iVillage also offers "message boards." There is no charge to visit them but registration on the site is required. There are support groups for debt, spouse betrayal, stress and child conception.

The "local living" section provides a communications forum for women from different metropolitan regions across the country. An item posted on the "New York Living" site, for example, is asking whether anyone can recommend a pediatrician in a specific neighborhood.

Their demographics are appealing to advertisers, which have helped to pump up the company's bottom line.

The average visitor to iVillage.com is 37 and has an annual household income of more than $84,000. About 82 percent have attended or graduated from college, 56 percent are married, 78 percent are employed, and 47 percent have children under age 18.

Its net income last year was $9.48 million, up 245 percent from $2.75 million in 2004.

And all of this is drawing talk of a takeover.

The Financial Times in London reported in November that iVillage was considering a sale that could value it at more than $700 million. The newspaper says that iVillage has hired investment bankers at JPMorgan Chase to explore its options and that News Corp. and Viacom could be suitors.