Kara Swisher

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Will BermanBraun and Hachette Give MSN a New "Glo" With Launch of a Dramatically Different Women's Site?

It’s more than a little ironic that the new “Glo” Web site–a highly stylized women’s lifestyle destination MSN debuted just after midnight today in partnership with Hollywood’s BermanBraun and Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.–will likely be one of the online media sites that shine best on the new Apple (AAPL) iPad.

Even though it was conceived before the tablet was announced and currently uses Apple-barred Adobe (ADBE) Flash in its headline rendering (soon to be adjusted), Glo is actually more aimed at upending the notion of what makes a good women-focused Web site.

With a vertical sweep, simple clean lines and a swoosh navigation bar, it’s the kind of new Internet sensibility informed almost entirely by touch, feel and–especially–visual elements.

And while it has a decidedly glossy magazine tone, Glo is also heavily laced with tools such as online scrapbooks and is strongly social, with deep links into Facebook and Twitter.

Of course, since it is a Microsoft (MSFT) property, Glo also was required to make copious use of its Bing search engine, links to which are constantly present and mostly useful.

Glo is the second dramatic site designed, created and run by the Los Angeles-based production company run by former Yahoo (YHOO) media chief and well-known television exec Lloyd Braun and his business partner, Gail Berman.

The first was a very different kind of celebrity site, Wonderwall, whose consumer engagement metrics have pleased advertisers so much that MSN ordered up another one aimed at fashion, decor, relationships and beauty.

“Obviously design plays a huge role in all we do,” said Braun in an interview with BoomTown yesterday. “We think there is an enormous opportunity to create content and program in a very different way.”

Braun said the site was trying to approximate the “endorphin release” that occurs when women get a new fashion magazine in their hands.

Berman agreed. “There is something very powerful about the connection you can establish with a magazine that has not yet been replicated online as well,” she said. “We are aiming to have a true voice to reach this kind of level of emotional connection with our readers.”

To help that along, as part of the deal with MSN, announced in December, magazine giant Hachette–publisher of Elle, Woman’s Day and Elle Decor–is providing content and editorial expertise to Glo.

There will be seven “packages” a day, with access to archival content too.

Like Wonderwall, Glo will aggregate original, Hachette and third-party content from a variety of partners, but have a voice that new Executive Editor Anne Weintraub–who has been online director for Elle magazine–called “inspirational and also aspirational” and with a heavy dose of imagery.

Instead of the unusual horizontal design that scrolls like Wonderwall, though, Glo goes steeply vertical, although still using a plethora of images and a deeply visual sensibility to attract the eye.

“We are trying to grab the reader in a different way, through linear narration,” Weintraub said in an interview yesterday. “And we also want the women who read it to feel that they are one step away in terms of aspirations, that we reflect their reality on a really good day of theirs.”

The business plan, of course, is advertising. The companies said MSN will lead the advertising sales efforts along with HFM U.S. on selected accounts, with JCPenney, Vaseline and Fox Broadcasting Company (think “Glee” and you get the demo being targeted) as inaugural advertisers.

“Advertisers have been looking for premium content opportunities online and they really are not there in this important space compared to what’s out there in print, for example,” said MSN U.S. head Scott Moore. “Like the celebrity category, we see a lot of room to grow by offering something different and of higher quality.”

Todd Anderman, SVP for Digital Media at HFM, which already has Web sites for its well-known magazines, noted that the company was in uncharted territory. “This is a new brand for all three of us,” he said.

Here are some screenshots from today’s debut (click on the images to make them larger), as well as the full press release below:

MSN, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. and BermanBraun Unveil Glo, a Premium Online Lifestyle Destination for Women

New site features an innovative design that creates the feel of a magazine experience on the Web for women seeking style, beauty and lifestyle content.

REDMOND, Wash.; LOS ANGELES; and NEW YORK–April 6, 2010–MSN, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. (HFM U.S.) and BermanBraun today announced the launch of Glo (www.Glo.com), a lifestyle site that focuses on style, beauty, living and relationship content through a uniquely engaging and dynamic experience. Glo provides users with everyday inspiration and practical ways to attain their best life. It combines the imagery and feel of a magazine with the appeal of a dynamic site such as WONDERWALL, to offer an online destination that is neither traditional Web nor print, but a unique escape for women on the Web.

Glo utilizes a unique vertical scrolling method, a feature that is exclusive to the site as an online lifestyle destination. Glo presents its topics daily with a fresh and in-the-know perspective, filled with glossy, full-screen photo galleries, videos, and unique features. Glo features original content from its editorial team, HFM U.S. properties, MSN properties and relevant content from popular lifestyle sites including Sugar/Sugar Entertainment, LimeLife, Modelinia, Remodelista and more. Key features of Glo include the following:

• Scrapbook. This feature allows readers to save a custom page of their favorite images and ideas from the site, just as if they were tearing them out of a magazine.

• Sharing tools. Sharing tools are included on each page and allow readers to share articles, videos and more with friends and family via e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and Windows Live.

• Bing integration. Bing, the new generation of search from Microsoft, is deeply integrated throughout Glo. Bing is a decision engine that offers a faster way to make more informed choices.

• Facebook. This feature allows customers to comment on articles and videos they see on Glo using their Facebook login information.

• Full-screen photo galleries. Glo is loaded with visually compelling, full-screen photo galleries, covering a range of topics that are better seen than read, such as the best shade of red lipstick and chic body art.

The design, programming and operations of the new digital brand will be spearheaded by BermanBraun and HFM U.S. Glo is accessible at www.Glo.com, as well as through the MSN home page, editorial programming across the MSN network, and across HFM U.S. online properties.

MSN will lead the advertising sales efforts along with HFM U.S. on selected accounts. Major brands such as Vaseline, JCPenney and Fox Broadcasting Company have signed on as inaugural advertisers.

“We are very happy to be partnering with MSN on the launch of the Glo Web site on behalf of the Vaseline® Aloe Fresh lotion line,” said Srini Sripada, marketing director, Unilever Skin Care. “Our goal is to communicate the light, refreshing sensory benefits of the line, and we believe that Glo provides a unique opportunity to reach women who are looking for light, fresh content. We are excited to be engaging in this endeavor.”

Anne Weintraub, who has held various positions at ELLE including former online director, has been appointed as the executive editor of Glo. She has deep editorial experience running online lifestyle experiences dating back to 1999 when she was the founding editor of Beautyjungle.com. Weintraub also worked as a beauty editor at Vogue, and as a freelance journalist for magazines such as InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar and Self.

Women spend more time online looking at lifestyle content than any other category, with 68 percent saying that going online is a great way to relax and 45 percent marking it as the most peaceful part of their day.1 For MSN, lifestyle is among the most popular content categories, reaching more than 8.2 million unique users a month. MSN will offer Glo in conjunction with its lifestyle portfolio, including MSN Lifestyle, Delish and MSN Health & Fitness.

“Lifestyle is one of our top content priorities because of its popularity among consumers and advertisers, and Glo is a great addition to our lifestyle portfolio. The launches of the new MSN home page and WONDERWALL have shown us the importance of delivering visually compelling and innovative designs and how quickly we can attract millions of customers using the distribution power of MSN,” said Scott Moore, regional partner executive producer, MSN. “We’re excited to build on our successful partnership with BermanBraun, adding the category branding expertise and panache of HFM U.S. to deliver a compelling new lifestyle experience on MSN.”

“Following our successful partnership with MSN in bringing WONDERWALL to the celebrity entertainment space, we are thrilled to be partnering with Hachette and MSN to create Glo–a new and unique lifestyle brand. We believe the innovative design and distinctive tone of Glo will excite both the online audience and our advertising partners,” BermanBraun partners Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun said in a joint statement.

“Like all publishers, we are exploring different ways to deliver content onto all platforms,” said Alain Lemarchand, president and CEO, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. “We are very excited about creating a Web-only brand with an original voice that fills an open position in the marketplace. Our collaboration with our two outstanding partners MSN and BermanBraun has been a rich one with each team bringing distinct strengths and voices to the project.”

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