Here comes the site

The new Brides.com is up and I know that won’t thrill most of you, but I’m proud to have helped on the site and the strategy as a consultant and I learned some good lessons from it. It was a fascinating challenge: Conde Nast owns the three big bridal magazines, Brides, Modern Bride, and Elegant Bride, but TheKnot.com has grown to be a potent brand in the field because the internet has proven to be incredibly useful to brides. When you think about it, it’s obvious: The bridal market get totally new consumers every 18 months and they are not necessarily drawn to legacy brands; they go to what works best for them — and today, that’s the internet because it has functionality and information and fellow brides with advice. When my former employer bought Modern Bride from Primedia, I helped get up a simple companion web site that was immediately successful. But it turns out that wasn’t big enough. So now there is a big bridal extravaganza up online: lush, local, and useful. It was built by some great friends, many of them former CondeNetters — two of whom are pictured in yesterday’s Times story on Conde and online: Susan Rerat and Theresa DiMasi.

So now to the lesson: Think of the biorhythms of Bridal media as a speeded-up version of the life cycle that the rest of media are going through. Other audiences may not flush out every 18 months, but the older readers do leave (or die) and the newer readers do have new choices and they don’t necessarily pay homage to legacy brands and value. What happened in bridal, with the shift online, is happening in all media, only quicker. I once said that media executives should look at the shrinkage of TV Guide’s audience and business as a warning to all: It’s the cash cow in the coal mine. Perhaps you can look at bridal as a more positive model: It’s no longer about just printing pretty pictures. It’s about creating the functionality to help people do what they want to do. If you do that, you might survive and succeed.

  • http://donsurber.blogspot.com don surber

    Good job. Needs video. iPod nice touch

  • http://www.engagementalliance.com Jackie Danicki

    Looks interesting (I was just looking for a lot of these resources this weekend), but wish they’d ditch the Flash. Nothing makes me close my browser window faster than Flash that doesn’t help me do a damn thing.

  • http://www.ditisberry.nl Berry

    It does look a bit corporate, which is a matter of too much flash and the wrong fonts, but apart from that it appears OK.

  • Traci

    Jeff, I found your site on yahoo france..I was researching the student riots and you’re on page 5….those wacky French!

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    I would be more impressed if the wedding business wasn’t such a perfect example of the distorted spending priorities in the US. An affair which has no social value whatever costs tens of thousands of dollars. After it’s over, all that is left is a dress that can never be worn again and some photos.

    It would be too rational to take most of the money and use it to get the young couple started on setting up a home, I suppose. Weddings are probably the ultimate in conspicuous consumption. When is the US going to realize that living beyond its means will have repercussions?

  • Old Grouch

    Hey Robert, it ain’t “the US,” it’s various couples making individual decisions. You may not agree with them. But I don’t recall any law or regulation that mandates that people spend “tens of thousands of dollars” on their weddings. (Hint: Lots of couples don’t.) And who died and left you the authority to tell other people how to spend their own money?

    “Puritanism: The haunting fear that, someone, somewhere, may be happy.” –Henry Louis Mencken

  • http://www.engagementalliance.com Jackie Danicki

    Robert Feinman, I am so happy that the US is a country where individuals can choose for themselves what ‘social value’ they place on a wedding ceremony. Aren’t you?

  • http://www.engagementalliance.com Jackie Danicki

    Old Grouch, if I wasn’t already engaged, I might propose to you…

  • http://www.myobligatory.com/ APF

    I never understood the attitude of attacking a technology rather than the interface/interaction itself. Who cares if (f/e) a menu is done with Flash or with DHTML/AJAX/Plain-text/HTML if the interaction is equally efficient? Certainly non-technically-savvy folks wouldn’t care, so long as the bottom-line, navigation, is accomplished. But some folks will assert their prejudices on a piece of code regardless. It’s bizarre.

  • http://www.engagementalliance.com Jackie Danicki

    APF, it’s not about the code, it’s about the intrusiveness of 99% of the Flash out there – including on the Brides.com site. If that’s bizarre to you, then you probably also think that “Sit there watching stuff fly across the screen” is the same thing as “interaction”.

  • http://www.myobligatory.com/ APF

    What was intrusive to you? What flew across the screen?

  • Old Grouch

    “if I wasn’t already engaged, I might propose to you…”
    (blushes!)

    BTW, I don’t run Flash, either. (‘Scuse me while I go complain to Volkswagen.)

  • Taylor Walsh

    The problem with this site is the following: it does not sufficiently reflect the fact that most purchases related to weddings are made locally. The site offers a locality feature, but it takes an inexplicable two steps to get to a list of services organized by topic.

    As an alternative, take a look at http://www.mydcwedding.com, which is the Washington, DC site in a local network. Weddings, like cars, are major expenditures for which the web provides a great research tool. In this structure, you can scan service options and set aside those you have an interest in.

    As interesting is the position this site – the creation of a web development group apparently – in relation to traditional media that serve this customer base: magazines and local newspapers. myweddings.com has done a better job in my view than either of the traditional media cos.

  • http://www.towersystems.com.au/fhn_blog/ mark fletcher

    Jeff, I think you’re right about the lifecycle. Just look at magazine categories where the next generation has moved online. Computers, Buying and Selling (secondhand cars etc), Science, Crafts and Hobbies. Publishers will disagree because they want to retain the current supply chain until they are completely ready with a commercially viable online offering. The Conde Nast strategy is timely and well attuned to their marketplace. I make these comments as an Australian Newsagent – there are 4,600 of us who rely on newspapers and magazines for more than 70% of our customer traffic.

  • I. F. Stoner

    PERHAPS THIS SITE SHOUD BE RENAMED
    The Self-Generated Buzz About Jeff Jarvis Machine…

    This item ledes with:
    “The new Brides.com is up and I know that won’t thrill most of you, but I’m proud to have helped on the site and the strategy as a consultant and..”

    and the Katie Couric denouement is:

    “[I] Just phoned into NPR’s On Topic about this very topic with Howard Rosenberg, ex-LA Times and now j-school prof; Jane Clayson, ex CBS morning host; Michael Wolfe of Vanity Fair; and David Blum of the NY Sun. The podcast will be up later. ”

    and the item about The New York Times reminds us that Jeff is a consultant:

    “The New York Times. I don’t mean email that comes in the course of my consulting for other parts of the company or from people I know there…”

    and we are remined that Jeff is also a consultant for The Guardian:

    “Here’s a Guardian column based on my defense of bullshit post”

    Of course, it’s Jeff’s site, and he has every right to say what he wants, but the self-promotion has started to border on self-centeredness. How many items a day are we to see reminding us of how Jeff singlehandedly created/legitimized the blogosphere?

    Just my take, Jeff. Nothin’ personal.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    Without getting into a whole discussion of the libertarianim implicit in the criticisms of my remarks about the social value of lavish weedings let me just make a couple of points.

    The belief that people are entitled to as much wealth as they can amass, and that they can spend it as they see fit is only supported by a small fraction of the world’s peoples. Even the principal religions teach a disdain for wealth (something about the eye of a needle, in one of them, as I recall). Amassing wealth is not a value neutral activity. It is supported by actions of the state which facilitate the creation of inequality. This can be via tax laws, inheritance laws, property laws or even police power.

    The defects in a society which has an overemphasis on materialism and opulence have been treated by writers starting with Thorsten Velben and extending up to the present. More recent writers have emphasized how tastes are controlled by an increasingly sophisticated advertising industry.

    I’ve written about this in several essays on my web site. If anyone wishes to debate this at length I suggest taking the discussion to a site which permits posting original items. My current suggested site being tpmcafe.com. I look forward to seeing essays from any of you who disagree with me posted there…

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    I.F.: And what should I write about? The things I DON”T do? It’s my blog. I talk about what I do. I also make sure to disclose conflicts. Please do link to your blog, where you discuss the cosmos. I’d love to read it.

  • http://www.tvguide.com Jay Bryant

    Jeff–speaking of your favorite cash cow…

    We launched blogs for the Watercooler at TV Guide yesterday: http://www.tvguide.com/watercooler