— Amy Wicks
FLIPPING OUT: Flip.com has a long way to go before it catches up to MySpace, but the teen networking site Condé Nast launched in February is getting a following. The site gathered 288,000 unique visitors in March, according to comScore/MediaMetrix, up from 183,000 in its first month. That's more than cosmogirl.com's 281,000 unique visitors and teenvogue.com's 101,000, but less than seventeen.com's 745,000. MySpace.com saw 66 million unique visitors in March.
The average age of Flip.com users is 17 and almost all of them are female. But they're not all fashionistas from Manhattan. "Some of our deepest users are out in the heartland," said Flip.com publisher Jane Grenier. "There's a hunger for creative outlets in the heartland that this site hits spot on."
Flip.com is independent from any of the Condé Nast magazine titles, but there appears to be little internecine rivalry between the site and Teen Vogue. In addition to Teen Vogue selling subscriptions on Flip.com, the two have been able to create some editorial and advertising links (though Grenier stressed advertising on Flip.com was not sold as a bundle with Teen Vogue). For example, Pacific Sunwear is wrapping up a contest where girls won a chance to shadow a photographer, stylist or producer while the retailer shot its back-to-school ad campaign. As the winners take their apprenticeships, each will document their experiences with digital and video cameras to create flipbooks for Flip.com. In August, Teen Vogue will run a special advertising section for Pac Sun featuring behind-the-scenes images from the ad campaign. Podcasts from the winner's experience will also go live in August on Flip.com, teenvogue.com and pacsun.com.
Though Flip.com limited its advertising to just five partners at its launch, more are signing up. Nike, which was an advertiser during the launch, will increase its presence on the site through the summer. Gillette last week started advertising on the site, and Ugg will run in August. Grenier also wants to expand the advertiser base beyond fashion and beauty to automotive and electronics. "The kind of integrated conversation that can happen on Flip.com can happen in any [advertising] category. Getting her opinion set on a particular brand or product is as important to a cell phone carrier [or] to an automaker as it to a fashion brand," said Grenier.
And although it's too soon to measure it, the company's new line of paper-based craft and storage products is off to a fast start, even though the products have yet to hit the shelves. While formal marketing for the products begins on Sunday, Lyne reported that during its first week in stores, retailer Michaels has already sold more than $1 million — and this is while boxes are still being unpacked.