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Memo Pad: Flipping Over... Style Bazaar...

Questions are being raised around the halls of 4 Times Square about Flip.com, Condé Nast's new teen networking site.

FLIPPING OVER: Questions are being raised around the halls of 4 Times Square about Flip.com, Condé Nast's new teen networking site. Pointing to small traffic numbers and a whispered lack of enthusiasm from higher ups about the project, despite a heavy financial investment in the site's technology, naysayers believe Flip has so far been a bit of a flop. "Thank God it wasn't my idea," said one insider. Meanwhile, Flip just lost one of its editors, Holly Siegel, to Ellegirl.com.

But Flip.com publisher Jane Grenier isn't worried. "The site represents innovation for the company," she said, referring to Flip's Flash-heavy technology and the site itself, which is Condé Nast's first foray into online social networking. "Do we all want to see the site be larger? Absolutely. Is bigger the number-one metric by which we define success? Absolutely not."

Unique visitors, a metric used for most Web sites to determine their growth, have averaged around 250,000 since Flip's February launch, according to internal figures supplied by Grenier (for comparison, seventeen.com generated 542,000 unique visitors in August). Grenier said she expects traffic to dip for September and October because marketing the site came to a halt during those months while it added several upgrades. However, said Grenier, "Our determination of whether this site is successful is not based on a panic check of uniques." Measurements that show each user is spending more time on the site are more promising. Time spent per session has grown to 8.5 minutes since February; page views per unique user have doubled to 15 pages per session from eight.

One reason so much attention is paid to the traffic number is because it's a key metric advertisers use to determine whether a site has a big enough audience to merit investing ad dollars. Flip doesn't provide a large reach for advertisers, but it does provide stickiness. In the past few months, the site has added as advertisers Guess and television network CW, which is hosting a number of promotions on Flip around its "Gossip Girl" series.

Grenier said reaching new girls is a challenge Flip will tackle in mid-November. One initiative is the launch of Scholarflip, where users can win scholarships to college. The program will be a partnership with a number of special interest youth groups, from cheerleading organization AmeriCheer to Do Something. — Stephanie D. Smith
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