April 1, 2015

The Pool, a new online platform for women, launches in UK


Lauren Laverne

Lauren Laverne (image via Flickr)

A new online magazine aimed at women is being launched by BBC Radio 6Music presenter Lauren Laverne, and former editor of Cosmopolitan and Red magazines Sam Baker. The new website, which will be called The Pool, will feature writing, audio and video aimed at women, according to The Guardian.

There’s already a wealth of online-only platforms designed specifically with a female audience in mind: Vagenda, Jezebel, The Toast, Rookie, Hairpin, to name just a few prominent players, and more keep arriving. We wrote about the appearance of Femsplain back in February; also in February Vice magazine announced that it would be launching Broadly, it’s first female focussed channel in the spring. This list doesn’t even include the many traditional print women’s magazines which were forced by the arrival of digital to offer an online counterpoint.

The Pool is interesting case because many aspects of its model are borrowed from print, and yet it has added uniquely digital strands to that model. It’s using big writers who made their names in print to add Establishment heft to the enterprise: Guardian Weekend cookery columnist Thomasina Miers will write a food blog, Times and Evening Standard writer Laura Craik will cover fashion, Guardian Weekend beauty columnist Sali Hughes will write opinion pieces, while journalist and comedian Viv Groskop will feature on an agony aunt podcast.

But it’s also reliant on advertising revenue, just like the biggest print magazines for women. The Pool wants to be profitable within a year, and is organizing brand partnerships before its launch. The editors are “building bespoke packages of content”, meaning friendly content that will nevertheless try to sell things to readers that they probably could do without. In this way it will be like all women’s magazines in print: a queasy mix of editorial and advertorial, the two so closely entwined that the result is an entirely untrustworthy publication. Women have always been aware of this, and they are good and knowing readers of such magazines. It’s just a shame that another model can’t be found for an online platform.

Elsewhere, The Pool is doing clever things with digital and trying out what can be different about a digitally-native site, as the Guardian reports:

Initially, the site will have roughly 20 pieces of content a day, delivered over around seven or eight “drops” tailored to what the audience is doing.

All content will be labelled with how long it will take to consume, and users will be able to search based on how long they have. It also offers a scrapbook function for people to save articles for reading later.

But I’m impressed with how Laverne is using her knowledge about radio, which has long been my favourite medium (if one can have a favourite medium) and is arguably the least acknowledged and appreciated of platforms, despite featuring prominently in many people’s daily routines. As Laverne puts it, “Radio is always the audience of one, where are they, what are they doing. You start with them and work back.” To reflect this, as the Guardian reports:

The Pool will operate on what Laverne describes as a “broadcast” model inspired by the success radio has had in remaining part of people’s daily habits, despite the rise of the internet.

The website is live now.


Zeljka Marosevic is the managing director of Melville House UK.