The Customer Effect

With new finance site, About.com targets the ‘adulting’ generation

  • About.com creates a standalone site for its financial content, The Balance.
  • The site targets millennial readers interested in personal finance and home buying.
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With new finance site, About.com targets the ‘adulting’ generation

There’s no shortage of sites catering to people who have lots of money and want advice on how to spend it. So with a new personal finance site, About.com is going for the “adulting” market.

Half the audience that comes to About.com for financial-related articles are aged 18-34 and skew female. So with its new vertical, The Balance, it’s aiming at young adults making big financial decisions — like opening up a retirement account or buying insurance for the first time — with 34,000 pieces of content around personal finance, investing, money hacks, career advice and small business tips. That content was previously housed in About.com’s business/finance network, which ranked 24 in business/finance sites as measured by comScore. It had 4.8 million unique visitors in July, down 17 percent versus a year ago.

“We help you understand big decisions in your life and tell them in a straightforward, accessible way,” said Neil Vogel, CEO of About.com. “We are financial advice for the 99 percent.”

The Balance is the second vertical that About.com has launched as part of a strategy to unbundle its content into distinct brands, recognizing that as the internet has matured, people are preferring specialty sites over big-scale portals. The first was a health site it launched in April, Verywell. A tech vertical is set to follow later this year.

About.com gave Verywell a friendly, graphics-heavy design scheme and pages that are light on ads and editorial elements. About.com applied a similar approach to The Balance, but played it a little straighter, reflecting the weightiness of the topic. “It looks a little like a finance site, but it’s so much nicer and friendlier,” Vogel said.

about.com's new financial website
The Balance website

Kirk Olson, vp of Trendsights at Horizon Media’s Why Group, a unit that looks at consumer trends and applies them to brands, said despite the fact that a lot of millennials face challenges getting on their feet, a significant number of them are buying homes and planning for their financial future. The challenge for The Balance will be to educate advertisers that still lump all millennials together.

“There are marketers who are aware there are millennials who have entered this phase, but from what I see, a lot of marketers are still stuck on those old ways of thinking about millennials,” he said.

Having fewer ad placements also means The Balance has to sell more of them to make the same amount of revenue. Vogel is confident the demand will be there, though, as clients are asking for financial editorial content for young consumers (for them, The Balance even has a sales package called “adulting.”) His bet is also that having a clean, easy-to-read site will induce consumers will lead them to come back more, which will make up for the loss in ad inventory.

“We’re trying to differentiate by appealing to advertisers by not annoying consumers,” he said. “We’ve learned how to say ‘no’ to advertisers.”

This article originally appeared on Digiday.

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