Social networking for women got a boost yesterday as media conglomerate Meredith Corp. acquired an undisclosed minority stake in Real Girls Media Network. The San Francisco-based network encompasses about 30 sites and portals for women — notably, DivineCaroline, a largely user-generated advice page.

In addition to bringing Real Girls’ 3 million unique viewers to Meredith’s properties each month (upping its total to 15 million), the deal will combine the two companies’ advertising inventories and sales forces. This should jumpstart revenue on both sides. Also, Meredith will now have access to Real Girls technology that could update the look and feel of its other sites, hopefully attracting more traffic. The large public company had an online presence before, but the partnership will automatically land it in the top five women’s networks, according to ComScore.

Even so, it’s got quite a fight ahead considering its formidable competition. The woman-targeted Glam Network alone drew 52 million unique visitors in September and continues to steam ahead (recently introducing a new advertising application service). The other heavy hitters, iVillage and AOL Living, bring in about 20 and 15 million a month respectively. But NBC-backed iVillage struck a lucrative deal with BlogHer in July, adding over 2,000 blogs to its network. It’s questionable whether there’s enough room for another major player in this space.

Meredith’s forte still lies in publishing, boasting magazine titles like Better Homes and Gardens, Parents and Family Circle. But it’s diversifying into television and the web quickly, making about $1.6 billion this year. By contrast, Real Girls is still relatively young. It raised $6 million from the 3i Group and Walden Ventures in 2006 after its inception.

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