Thrillist Goes Where The Boys Are
In an increasingly tough climate for ad-supported media, Thrillist claims to be thriving with little help from its most prominent investor, Bob Pittman's Pilot Group LLC.
"We could get more money from them if wanted, but we're growing very well without it," said Thrillist co-founder and CEO Ben Lerer.
Along with rival UrbanDaddy, Thrillist is often likened to the male version of DailyCandy, a trendy women's e-newsletter, which Pittman's Pilot Group sold this summer for $125 million.
Thrillist targets young "successful" men with tailored product and service recommendations in the areas of food, drinks, services, gadgets, gear, sports and travel.
Since launching in 2005, the newsletter has grown to include close to 500,000 daily subscribers, with a growth rate of 1,000 new users per day, according to Lerer.
By contrast, UrbanDaddy, which also debuted in 2005, now claims some 350,000 subscribers in five U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami. Leaving them both in the dust, however, is DailyCandy, which currently goes out to 2.5 million readers.
Since 2005, Thrillist has expanded to eight coverage areas, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Vegas, and Miami, along with a national edition.
Within the next month, existing ad partners, including JetBlue and Jose Cuervo, will both receive premium positioning on the new site. But unlike UrbanDaddy, Thrillist has no plans to produce original content for its sponsors.
"I have a problem with that model," said Lerer. "I don't think it's scalable and it can't be repeated easily. The idea is to engage our readers with the content we're already producing."
UrbanDaddy, on the other hand, is betting big on customized campaigns, which include any combination of co-branded microsites, contests and sweepstakes, events, parties, tastings, live music and private sales. Most recently, in September, UrbanDaddy launched a customized microsite for Don Julio Tequila.
Thrillist's relaunched Web site is also expected to include Interactive media and video slide shows lending additional support to articles; a "My Thrillist" tool for readers to create personalized Thrillist pages; and the ability for logged-in readers to disable the site's prominent and persistent subscription solicitations.
In addition, the site's mapping service will be added to all relevant article pages, while articles with multiple items will be broken into multiple mini-articles for easy searching.
"By building a pre-filtered city guide destination, we'll give our guys the information they want and nothing they don't," Lerer said.