While monolithic corporations like AT&T may be looking to grow by snapping up other giants like Time Warner, some longstanding Internet brands are winning by taking the exact opposite approach.
About.com has just unveiled its new brand, Lifewire, a technology site focused on helping everyday consumers manage their devices. The site's tagline is "Tech Untangled," which it does using a very clean, matter-of-fact interface. It is organized into four categories: How To, Fix, Buy, and Do More.
It is the third standalone media property debuting from About.com this year, following personal finance site The Balance, and Verywell, a platform devoted to health and wellness. The Balance launched in early September - not even a full two months ahead of Lifewire.
Lifewire's content is put together by roughly 40 experts, who have put together 16,000 articles focused around the unifying theme of simplifying technology. Rather than just being a how-to site, Lifewire is designed to focus on actionable content: for example, The 7 Best Drones to Buy in 2016, or 13 Ways You're Screwing Up Your Computer. Of course, there's still plenty of how to content as well, from How to Rearrange Icons on Your iPhone to How to Take Screenshots on Android - the kind of content About.com has been providing for years.
The site is designed to teach users how to use their devices for productivity, sure, but also to have fun with them. It's going for that perfect balance between helping everyday consumers make the best purchasing decisions, and then how to troubleshoot their devices during their entire life cycles.
Lifewire is focused on users who are tech savvy, educated, and typically use their tech to save time as well as money. Unlike some text sites which cater primarily to men, it's important to note that a majority of the site's users are women, and use technology for just about everything, but don't really have the time to be obsessive with respect to the underlying Technology. "We know that women are just as interested in tech as men," says About.com CEO Neil Vogel. "We've built a site focused on the mindset of these users."
In comparison to other leading technology properties, Lifewire boasts a 50% larger proportion of female users. Overall, its uses are far more likely than average to be working in fields related to tech. Assisting in connecting with those users is IDEA Studio, About.com's in-house content studio. The internal agency - IDEA stands for "Intent. Data. Expertise. About." - was founded mid-2015, and leverages data sciences to better predict the future of what consumers want to know. The goal is use IDEA Studio's range of capabilities to create native and branded content that will be incredibly valuable to brands looking to connect with the Lifewire consumer.
Lifewire is the next phase in About.com's massive pivot to become a leader in content verticals. "Brands matter and we've learned that you can't be everything to everyone," says Vogel. At the same time, Vogel adds, there's a commonality that unites all these new About.com properties: "there is a similar thread in all of our brands and that's demystifying complicated subjects in a way that is simple, approachable and friendly," says Vogel.
If the successful launches of The Balance and Verywell are any indication, Lifewire is just another sign of the times: smart media brands are embracing fragmentation to get more focused, not less. Whether you're a pre-revenue startup or a well-established firm, there's certainly a lesson in that.