In the last few years, big magazine publishers have been branching out into new, complementary areas of business such as marketing services through acquisitions and joint ventures. The trend is continuing: Hearst Corp. has acquired a 20% stake in Stylus Media Group, which provides business intelligence to consumer-facing companies in categories including automotive, technology, media, retail, fashion and hospitality.
The information and analysis provided by Stylus is used by design, marketing, branding and business development departments to refine their products, marketing, and business strategy. The list of Stylus corporate subscribers includes Saatchi & Saatchi, Starwood Hotels, Mulberry, Sony, Ford and Marks & Spencer. Hearst’s stake in the company will be managed by its Interactive Media Group.
Hearst CEO Frank A. Bennack, Jr. stated: “.. spotting the next trend can mean success or failure. We believe that Stylus offers information that no company should be without.”
While details are not yet available, the consumer and market information gathered by Stylus could conceivably be put to use by Hearst and its advertising clients in a number of ways, including brand positioning, ad targeting and competitive intelligence about marketplace rivals.
This isn’t Hearst’s first investment outside the publishing world. In February, it increased its stake in the Fitch Group, the financial ratings and analysis outfit, to 50%; Hearst first took a 20% stake in 2006 and added another 20% in 2009. Back in June 2010, Hearst acquired iCrossing, a digital marketing company that does planning and development for Web, email, mobile, search and social media marketing.
Hearst has also invested in a number of online and tech-focused companies, some of which are connected with digital publishing. Its venture capital arm, Hearst Ventures, has recently acquired stakes in HootSuite and BuzzFeed. Hearst also acquired, and then sold, a stake in online music service Pandora.