WHIMN: News Corp’s quest to attract women online

Felicity Harley discusses building WHIMN’s place in the local market

When the news of Kate Middleton’s pregnancy was made public early this month it instantly became a trending topic on social media, was given a place near the top of many news rundowns, and was the obvious front cover story for most weekly entertainment titles in Australia. As it did on many other women’s websites, the story worked well for News Corp’s digital women’s destination WHIMN too. However, the announcement had a personal connection for WHIMN editor, Felicity Harley.

“I’m pregnant with my third as well,” she said during a recent visit to the Mediaweek HQ for a recording of our regular Seven Days podcast.

“We are excited by it – another one for the football team,” Harley said. Her husband Tom Harley is a former AFL player. “I was hospitalised with morning sickness like Kate. I wrote a piece about it.”

Stories to do with the royal family perform well for WHIMN.com.au, Harley noted. However, real life stories are more consistent performers than celebrity stories.

“What’s been going really well – and has been a surprise to me – is real life stories. These are really strong stories about women whether it’s them going through a horrible pregnancy or coming out of a break-up and how they dealt with it.

“I hate to say this, but the more bizarre it is, the more likely people are to click.”

Opinion pieces also perform well for the website.

“We have one about the burqa and if they should be banned or not. Those sorts of pieces are going well for us. There is a market for women who want to read about meatier issues affecting women,” Harley said.

A study by the National Bank of Australia in 2015 showed that Australian women are more likely to take control of the household budget. Going by this, it would seem pretty obvious why a brand would want to be on this market’s good side.

There’s fierce competition in the space with many major networks having a digital destination for women’s content such as Nine’s 9Honey, Yahoo7’s Be, Mamamia, as well as News Corp’s WHIMN – which stands for With Her In Mind. At the time of the launch earlier this year, Nicole Sheffield, the managing director of News DNA, said that the website would offer premium content for women. As a result of their extensive research for the new site, Sheffield said, “It became very clear that Australian women are not satisfied with the current local women’s sites.”

According to the research conducted by News Corp, Australian women were increasingly consuming from international brands. Therefore, News Corp Australia’s aim with WHIMN is to “create something which is local in nature and global in flavour”, Sheffield said.

Stepping into the digital world after 18 years in magazines was a big change for Harley. “It’s been a great learning process,” she said. “The site is going really well. The beauty about digital is that it is about trying lots of things and seeing what works. You know the next hour or day whether some thing has gone well or not. Then depending how something’s gone, you can say ‘not doing that again’ or ‘right, more of those ones’.

This is an excerpt of the full article, which appears in the latest issue of Mediaweek magazine. 

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