Doubling down

In August, I wrote a post that encouraged publishers looking to test new approaches to "start with an audience, focus deeply on its needs and keep the established entity at bay". One of the examples I used was Refinery29, a retailer that had grown its own content-driven online presence.

Writing about Refinery29, I observed that a "first-time visitor could easily mistake the web presence for a lifestyle media site." Apparently, investors think so too.

Last month, the retailer announced that it had secured $20 million in additional financing to expand its content focus. An article by Erin Griffith of PandoDaily (now just Pando) notes that this is just one of several content-related deals:

The decision to double down on content is a sign of the times. Refinery29′s fundraise follows an even bigger raise from its fellow NYC media startup, Vox Media. The parent of The Verge and SB Nation closed on $36 million of a $40 million round, bringing its total funds raised to an eye-popping $80 million. BuzzFeed has turned profitable after raising $46.3 million. Business Insider raised $18.6 million. Vice Media is worth $1.4 billion.

Agreed, Refinery29 is a vertical and Buzzfeed is not journalism. But there is funding for content-related ventures. Established publishers should be thinking about "doubling down" on content plays of their own. I should, too.

Edited on November 27 to add: On Twitter, Peter Collingridge fairly noted that "Buzzfeed does some good journalism". I clarified on Twitter that "the aside isn't an indictment; more a call to think about journalism as a still unfilled niche". I struggle with the list-driven approach that dominates Buzzfeed, but its success is evident.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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