Friday, June 30, 2006

IAB Co-Founder Expands Health Network

IAB Co-Founder Expands Health Network
by Shankar Gupta, Friday, Jun 30, 2006 6:00 AM ET
AFTER QUIETLY BUILDING OUT ITS properties for the last several months, ChoiceMedia Thursday officially unveiled a new network of health sites, dubbed Health Central Network. The company--which recently received venture financing from Sequoia Capital, Allen and Company, The Carlyle Group, and Polaris Venture Partners--also formally changed its name to Health Central Network.

The company now operates 25 health vertical Web sites, each focused on a specific condition or wellness issue, such as migraine headaches, diabetes, or skin cancer. Marketers include all the major pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson; the company also is in talks with health-related consumer packaged goods manufacturers, including Procter & Gamble and Yoplait, said Christopher Schroeder, Health Central president and CEO.

Schroeder added that company's focus is to provide in-depth information about specific conditions. "We're not looking to be another generic one stop shop health encyclopedia. The portals do that very, very well," said Schroeder, former CEO of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive and a co-founder of the Interactive Advertising Bureau. "People are overwhelmed with the amount of information, and they're overwhelmed with the amount of information that's hard for them to understand."

Each of Health Central's individual sites is authored by several "patient experts"--bloggers, authors, or medical professionals--and aims to get not only the clinical information, which Schroeder said has become "commoditized," but also experiences and stories from writers who have lived with each condition. "They write content not just about the clinical ramifications of the illness, but also the personal ramifications," he said. "These types of content are unbelievably emotive, they drive a lot of reaction from the community."

The Web has seen a bloom of health-related services with all the major portals offering some sort of Health vertical--Google most recently entered the market, launching a health category for its Google Co-op product, joining MSN Health and Yahoo Health, both major players.

Other, more niche offerings have also cropped up. American Online founder Steve Case last year launched Revolution, a network focusing on lifestyle, health, and wellness.

buzz this