Webmedia nets double win for site rebuilding

Friends of the Earth and bookseller Blackwell’s appoint Megalomedia

Webmedia, the new media agency part-owned by Maurice Saatchi’s Megalomedia, has picked up two account wins, with business from Friends of the Earth and academic bookseller Blackwell’s.

The agency won a formal pitch to advise on the rebuilding of Friends of the Earth UK site, which the pressure group admits may have become too unwieldy and “information laden”. Webmedia will advise on how to boost traffic, membership subscriptions and other revenue raising efforts on the campaigning site.

According to Sam Michels, director of online traffic at Webmedia: “The site has grown over the past three years. It’s now creaking with the amount of information on it.”

Friends of the Earth accepts that there is a need to improve the presentation and accessibility of the site’s campaigning information, but insists there will be no slimming down of content on the site. Both sides also stress that operation of the site will remain in-house despite the consultancy deal.

The move follows the similar hirings of commercial new media agencies by “rival” pressure groups such as Amnesty International over the past year, aimed at improving the presentation of campaigning information and fundraising among the general public.

Likewise, Blackwell’s decision to appoint Webmedia to revamp its merchandising site follows a year of aggressive moves by rival booksellers to promote sales-driven sites.

Webmedia will redesign the two-year-old Blackwell’s Online Bookshop as well as develop a database system to handle online book orders.

Elizabeth Van Couvering, account manager at Webmedia, says she accepts the development of bookselling sites by Waterstone’s, The Internet Bookshop, Penguin, and US players Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble has made the general field in online book sales crowded.

But Blackwell’s will try to exploit its reputation for expertise in specialist academic and “hard-to-find” books to establish a niche in the international market, says Van Couvering.

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