Thrillist Taps Blanchard As Chief Content Officer
Thrillist Media Group has hired Keith Blanchard as its first Chief Content Officer. Best known as the editor-in-chief of Maxim during the magazine’s heyday, Blanchard most recently
served as chief content officer at indie agency Story Worldwide.
The hire is part of a broader restructuring at THG, under which creative services will be broken off from sales, and, under Blanchard’s command, will champion branded advertising as equal in every way to editorial content. Along with creative services, Blanchard will oversee branded content and events teams.
To the delight of brands everywhere, Blanchard says fewer consumers differentiate between editorial and advertising -- so there’s no reason why publishers should.
“It’s a generational thing,” Blanchard tells OMD in an exclusive interview. “The wall’s coming down whether we like it or not.” Illustrating his point in true Thrillist fashion, Blanchard explains: “If I go to a party, I only care about whether it’s great or not. I don’t care whether it’s sponsored by [a liquor brand].”
While Thrillist has always made a point to label brand messages, blurring the lines between “content” and advertising is in the company’s DNA. Indeed, the men’s lifestyle brand doesn’t have “sponsors” -- it has “allies.”
The approach seems to be paying off. Thrillist is on pace to turn a profit on $60 million in revenue, this year -- up from $33 million in 2011.
Thrillist founder and CEO Ben Lerer says online advertising as we know is dying.
“If it’s not dead, it’s changing very, very quickly,” Lerer tells OMD. “Our goal is to make the content we create for advertisers just as strong as what we create editorially.”
In addition to advertising, Thrillist has sought to break down traditional barriers between editorial and ecommerce -- another strategy that has benefited the company’s bottom line.
According to Lerer, the majority of Thrillist’s revenue now comes from its ecommerce operations -- “between 60% and 70%.” Thrillist acquired discount designer ecommerce site Jackthreads in 2010, which has since grown from 150,000 to more than 2 million members, he says.
Thrillist seems to have Maxim on the brain. Earlier this month, it hired former Maxim digital editorial director Gene Newman as general manager. In that role, Newman has been tasked with broadening the brand’s online and mobile presence.