WebMD searching for new business

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David Schlanger
David Schlanger

WebMD is on the hunt for something new. In addition to the company's May 7 announcement that CEO of almost-a-year Cavan Redmond has turned in his washroom key and longtime exec David Schlanger is stepping in as interim chief, WebMD revealed that it has other changes in the works.

Among them: nudging advertisers towards a wraparound marketing approach, known as a multi-screen pitch. This is not the same as Google's move in which mobile is built into the advertising offerings, but rather, Schlanger said in the earnings call, WebMD is “promoting to advertisers multi-screen solutions… to encourage them to include mobile as one of their marketing tactics.” WebMD's analytics indicate the mobile push is where advertisers should be.

Just-appointed CFO Peter Anevski said US desktop traffic fell 19% for the first quarter of 2013, compared to the same period last year, and that of the mobile traffic which provides 34% of overall traffic, 20% is from tablets. The CFO also said the company's decision to revise its rate card in 2012 has paid off, saying “we feel we're in a great position competitively.”

The company also said it now has an appetite for acquisitions and collaborations. Though vague on details, CEO Martin Wygod cut off an analyst's query about whether he was priming the company for a takeover (as the company had sought a couple years back, on former CEO Wayne Gattinella's watch) with this curt response: “We'll ignore your last question.”

The company was willing to discuss the expected summer launch of a healthcare reform information section for its website, and announced that it has landed a federal contract to provide health and wellness information for the 5 million members of the federal Blue Cross Blue Shield program. The company's first program for federal employees, it's also part of a larger business called WebMD Health Services which provides similar information for what Hahn described as 225 of the country's leading employers.
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