gives foodies more to chew on

The Food Network's online home has a new look, more content and enhanced advertising opportunities including customized sponsorship and pre-roll on video recipe how-tos.

Like Ratatouille‘s Remy elevating the simple peasant’s dish into an epicurean delight, the has relaunched with a new look, a healthy dose of new content and a host of new ad opportunities to go along with it.

The site, which officially debuted this week, now features an interactive members’ community where users can discuss topics, ask food celebs questions, save and organize recipes and post photos or descriptions of recipes they’ve created. It also includes enhanced search functionality for better video- and text-based results.

Redesigning the ‘discoverability’ of the site’s video content was a primary goal in the redesign, Paul Burns, VP digital media, Canwest, told MiC, adding Food Network video content is one of the site’s biggest USPs but had been very much underutilized before. Full-length episodes and specially edited how-to clips accompanying recipes are now included in the site’s main search engine for greater visibility.

Pre-relaunch, averaged unique monthly visits of just under 600,000 (ComScore), a year-on-year increase of about 20%, and month-over-month of about 100%, Joe Strolz, VP digital sales, Canwest, told MiC.

New opportunities to reach that audience – which the company hopes to grow over the holidays, a typically busy time for the site – include pre-roll on all the videos (which will eventually accompany most of the recipes on the site) and a new ‘window shade’ ad unit at the top of the page (which expands and drops down). Advertisers currently running ads on the site include Telus, IBM, Sport Chek and Sunlight.

Customized sponsorship opportunities can be linked to the site’s new search functionality. For instance, Strolz said, an advertiser could sponsor all the ‘kid-friendly’ recipes on the site, rather than just sponsoring a food category. Other opportunities include editorial integrations, advertorials and packages that cross video, recipes, TV and seasonal guide sponsorships.

Creating a community for Food Network fans to interact with one another – and Food Network personalities – was one of the main goals behind the site’s redesign, Burns told MiC.

‘People are obsessed with food,’ he said. ‘The people that are fans of the Food Network – it’s almost an obsession. We recognized that in a big way, just with the amount of people following us on Twitter and Facebook. So at the outset of this relaunch, we recognized that building community functionality was really important to helping people thrive and talk and discuss their passion, which in this case is food.’

The redesigned site is being promoted on-air on Food Network Canada, online across Canwest sites and AOL’s advertising network and on Food Network’s social media properties. It will also be promoted in the Food Network’s mobile app and via its e-newsletter.