TMZ Courts Bigger Advertisers With New, Softer-News Website

Celebrity gossip site TMZ has quietly unveiled a gentler fashion-oriented offshoot called Too Fab. Although TMZ maintains high traffic — February uniques were up 6 percent to 14 million, per comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) — and gained new credibility by breaking the news of Michael Jackson’s death last year, many advertisers remain uncomfortable with the main site’s daily diet of in-you-face Hollywood crime and debauchery. But its advertisers tend to be Google-served ads and smaller businesses.
So where the main TMZ site features news of the David Letterman stalker’s guilty plea or an item about Gary Coleman having a seizure, Too Fab tackles safer stories — about Russell Brand’s $315 sunglasses, for example, and Conan O’Brien offering to foot the bill for a Twitter follower’s wedding.
While Too Fab today sports a banner and video ad for Disney’s Alice In Wonderland and sponsorship from Chase credit cards, the most prominent spot on TMZ went to technical school DeVry University. But one question is whether major marketers will pony up to advertise on a site that won’t have anything close to TMZ’s traffic.
TMZ declined to comment about Too Fab, which is being promoted in two links on the homepage. Sources did tell paidContent that TMZ plans to launch other verticals, including a long-planned celebrity sports news site sometime this year.
Figuring out how to sell ads wasn’t something that TMZ had to worry prior to the middle of last year when it decided to take its ad sales in house after separating from former parent AOL (NYSE: AOL) in advance of the Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) spinoff. Up to that point, AOL was placing remnant ads on the site. (TMZ still has a content relationship with its former AOL blog sibling, Pop Eater, along with several other unrelated gossip sites.)