United Online (NSDQ: UNTD) is essentially retiring one of the most omnipresent brands on the internet. As part of a plan announced earlier this year to remake its Classmates.com social network as a “nostalgia content” site, it is now redirecting visitors to Classmates.com to a new site it has launched called MemoryLane.
The new site, according to the company, features “vintage magazines, historic newsreels, classic sports highlights, movie trailers, song samples and cover art from memorable albums, timeless photos, and the most extensive catalog of digitized high school yearbooks online.” Some of the content is free, although the company is pushing “all access passes” for $39 a year. Users can still access and edit profiles on the Classmates.com social network but it is a subset of the new site — and is only accessible from a small box in the upper right hand corner.
The changes come as the performance of Classmates.com has deteriorated. In 2010, revenue at United Online’s content and media business — which includes the social network — dropped nearly 15 percent and operating income fell by roughly 25 percent. The number of active accounts also fell by nearly 30 percent to 13.7 million.
When he initially announced the company’s plans to relaunch Classmates.com over the summer, CEO Mark Goldston acknowledged the existing site faced “challenges from a number of fronts, including the economy, the continued increase and adoption of free social networking features and the maturity of Classmate’s historical value propositions.”
In a statement today, Goldston says MemoryLane will “enhance our competitive differentiation and create new revenue streams from e-commerce and pay-per-view transactions in addition to the revenue we derive from paid subscriptions and advertising.”