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Leavitt Communications' president writes about one of the newcomers to the social networking scene-- an obituary site; the audience is the desirable senior crowd.
A new service catering to the 50+ crowd not only offers an online obituary database dating back to the 1930s, but members can also read morbidly humorous stories about how people met their demise in the strangest ways-- online snippets somewhat analogous to the opening two minutes of each episode of the now defunct HBO series, "Six Feet Under."
Launched on July 31, Eons.com was started by Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor (who is 45). According to Linda Natansohn, senior vice president of strategic development, Eons.com was established to help connect this wealthy group, which according to the U.S. Census and Federal Reserve, controls about $28 trillion -- or 67 percent -- of the nation's wealth. Households headed by someone in the 55-to-64 age group also had a median annual net worth of $112,048 in 2000-- 15 times the $7,240 reported for the under-35 age group. And within five years about a third of the population is going to be at least 50 years old.
With statistics like these, small wonder then that the folks at Eons.com believe they have tapped into a MySpace-type of environment for the Baby Boomer generation-- and are also hopeful that the site will be a virtual moneymaker.
Eons.com offers a number of what Natansohn calls "robust products, all of which can be enjoyed without an ounce of social networking." Click on "Fun," for instance, and there's a welter of information on interactive games, entertainment, hobbies and interests. The "Love" icon has lots of useful information subdivided into categories, some of which include "Friends," "Kids," "Grandkids," and "Caring for Parents." Punch up "Money" and Boomers can find career advice, learn about retirement planning, insurance and more.
But what's piqued the interest of so many viewers is the "Obits" section, which among other things, features a Longevity Calculator that uses a variety of baselines and benchmarks to determine how much time you have left on the planet. Click on "Local Obits" and you can read about luminaries who have departed to the great beyond. "Tributes" include comprehensive write-ups and photos of a wide variety of well-known people-- from Don Adams to Simon Wiesenthal. You can also sign up to receive an alert when someone dies or in response to pre-defined keywords like a school name or company.
"We are reinventing obituaries, which have seen little or no innovation in 100 years and have created the first age relevant search engine," said Natansohn.
One of the most hilarious offbeat sections in "Obits" is "Way to Go," which chronicles how various people met their maker. In one example, as reported by the Lancashire (UK) Evening Telegraph, a man failed to take his own life, then managed to do so accidentally-- he tried tying a noose around his neck and to a telephone pole and then set off at high speed in his red Skoda Fabia. But he died after the noose snapped and he lost control of his car.
Death jokes aside, Eons.com, said Natansohn, is already generating revenues from a variety of sources, including advertising, sponsorships, listings in is obituary database, revenue sharing and lead generation.
"We recently announced five industry-leading corporate founding partners who share our vision about the power of this generation, including Harrah's, Humana, Hyatt, Verizon Wireless and Liberty Mutual," Natansohn said.
Founder Taylor recently summed his philosophy that prompted him to start Eons.com.
"We now live about 20 years longer than our grandparents. These are people who want to spend money to save time, rather than spend their time trying to save money."
Neal Leavitt is president of Leavitt Communications.
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