About.com taps WebMD for health exec

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About.com upped the ante on its health offering, bringing on Marjorie Martin from archrival WebMD to head About Health (health.about.com). 

Martin, who started out as a TV news correspondent and spent eight years at WebMD, most recently as VP and managing director, is charged with adding features and plotting strategy to expand and differentiate the site. She reports to COO Andrew Pancer. 

With 4.9 million unique visitors in March, according to Nielsen Net Ratings, About Health lags behind WebMD (22.6 million) and MSN Health (5.7 million), but leads both AOL Health (4 million) and Yahoo! Health (2.8 million). 

About.com president and CEO Scott Meyer said the site is the strongest of the About.com properties, recently bought by The New York Times Company, and that the firm sought to leverage its expertise and original content to pull ahead of the portals.

“What we really have is two sites [About and WebMD] publishing quality original content, and the portals are really just aggregating content from elsewhere,” said Meyer. About Health, he said, projects the “voice of reason,” with credentialed expert guides trained by the company and paid based on the traffic their sites generate. 

Meyer said the sector had seen sharp growth in online advertising spending recently, from pharmas as well as from device manufacturers and consumer packaged-goods companies.

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