About.com At a Glance:
Site: About.com / About.com/espanol
Owner: New York Times
Unique Monthly Visitors: 62.5 million
Target: US Hispanics (mostly) and Latin Americans.
Launch: About in Spanish – April 2011
Staff: Freelance writers
New York Times owned About.com has 62.5 million unique monthly visitors and is profitable. However, in a recent earnings call the New York Times Company revealed that the network of information sites suffered a 67% drop in profits and that revenues had fallen by a quarter in Q4 2011. The lower earnings and revenues may be a reason for why last year About.com diversified and introduced About.com/espanol, a site with more than 100 channels aimed at U.S. Hispanics. Even though the site has visitors from Latin America, right now its only focus lies in targeting the U.S. Hispanic population.
“About en Español launched in April 2011 with nine topics. Since that time, it has grown by leaps and bounds, and we now have 100 topics that are written on the site, covering a broad spectrum of interests, from sports and entertainment to history and politics”, a spokesperson for About.com tells Portada.
According to the spokesperson, “nothing like About.com has been attempted for the Spanish-language market-not only in terms of creating a content network of this size, but also regarding the selection and training of such a large number of web writers from all over the United States, Latin America and Spain.”
About mostly works with Guides (in Spanish Guias or Topics) which are written on topics that About’s editorial team deems as most interesting to Hispanics. There are not many Guide or Topic sites (e.g. About.com, Ask.com) in the Latin Digital Media world, another example is Spain’s Grupo Prisa’s ParaSaber.com. About.com/espanol topics include main themes such as Coches (Cars), Casa (Home), Cocina y recetas (kitchen and recipes), Educacion (Education), Deportes (Sports), Viajes (Travel) etc… These main themes are then split into subthemes (e.g. Viajes en Nueva York, “Travel in New York”).
The site publishes approximately 400 texts per month. About.com/espanol hires writers which are experts in the topics they cover.
Writers are paid per traffic
Writers are paid a fixed amount and a variable amount depending on the traffic their articles get. They are also taught how to maximize the traffic to their articles via SEO (e.g. Keyword Selection, Titles, Metatags etc.) To some extent a site like About.com/espanol is a content farm as the content clearly gets optimized to generate traffic via search engines. However, being a New York Times company quality seems to play an important role. “About.com is a part of The New York Times Company, the parent company that also owns The New York Times. About.com and The New York Times are run as completely separate businesses, though they both share the Company's core purpose, which is to create, collect and distribute high-quality news, information and entertainment,” the About.com/espanol spokesperson tells Portada.
About.com/espanol sells keyword online advertising around its articles. For now it is using mostly Google Adwords and the sales force of the English About.com site. In the future it expects to have a dedicated salesforce for its specific Spanish-language site. About.com attracts a wide range of advertisers in categories including consumer packaged goods, automotives and personal finance.