Can Sex Sell Online Financial Content? (PLA, TWX)

by: David Jackson

Seeking Alpha founder David Jackson writes: Online finance site has launched a stock picking contest. But this one is different: Playboy Playmates pick stocks, and you can view their portfolios in every sense of the word. Lindsay Vuolo, Miss November 2001, for example, has picked Bluefly (NASDAQ:BFLY), Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Research in Motion (RIMM) and XM Satellite Radio (XMSR).

Now, don't expect rigorous financial analysis. Boyd Gaming is a buy, Ms Vuolo explains, because "all the guys I know love gaming...and I think it's sexy. Besides...I live near Atlantic City and love the Borgota." Beats forward P/E ratios and EBITDA, no?

TradingMarkets's partnership with Playboy (PLA) suggests that the more acceptable side of the porn industry -- Playboy in particular -- may have more marketing potential than previously realised. And it also expains some of the attraction of recently acquired Weblogs Inc to Time Warner (NYSE:TWX).

Here's why. I'd assumed that one of the challenges for most blog networks was that cross-readership between blogs is limited. The Seeking Alpha Network seemed to be an exception to that rule: if you're interested in the Media Stock Blog, chances are you'll likely be interested in the Internet Stock Blog; ditto the China Stock Blog and the India Stock Blog. We even set up a dashboard for the entire network at that lets you view all the headlines in one place. (If you haven't seen it, check it out -- it's really remarkable.)

But the cross-readership potential for the other networks just wasn't clear to me. Weblogs Inc has blogs about cars, gadgets, mortgages, and cancer. And -- get this -- Nick Denton's Gawker Media, the other leading blog network, has blogs about media, food, gadgets, and a blog about porn.

Where's the cross-readership there? Well, TradingMarkets' partnership with Playboy suggests that if people will read stock-picks by Lindsay Vuolo, the blog networks can cross sell anything...