Cox Digital Solutions is rolling out a new ad network dubbed Appetite Media, aimed at providing marketers with custom placements across some 500 specialty food sites that will collectively reach a monthly audience of more than 22 million.
Appetite Media will serve up specialized ad units and packages including branded recipes, custom widgets, sponsorships, background "skins," roadblocks and larger-format ads geared to food enthusiasts. Partnering on the initiative is Gourmet Ads, an existing food-focused ad network spanning 300 niche cooking sites. To that total, Cox Digital has added about 200 more sites geared to the category.
Through its acquisition of the Adify vertical ad network in 2008, Cox already offers advertising on 7,000 niche content sites representing an audience of 130 million. (Cox Digital Solutions was formed earlier this year through the merger of Cox Cross Media and Adify.) But Appetite Media is expected to be the first in a series of premium ad networks built around verticals such as travel and finance, promising the type of prominent placement typically associated with single site buys.
"We're doing the kind of stuff you can't do buying inventory on an exchange," said Steve Shaw, president of Cox Digital Solutions. "Offering high-impact units and content integration," across pre-selected and verified sites. While marketers can't pick individual sites to run campaigns, they can target by geography, daypart and other criteria.
The new ad network seeks to match brands with an audience that skews heavily toward women (and moms) in the 25 to 54 age range. Within that population, 85% are the primary or dual/primary grocery shoppers and nearly half say cooking is their favorite leisure activity. They are also twice as likely to have searched for recipes online in the last month.
Since the soft launch of Appetite Media three months ago, Shaw said CPMs have been in the high single digits to low double digits. He declined to name any advertisers that have been buying media through the food ad network to date. But the Gourmet Ads site lists advertisers on its network including General Foods, Nestle, Campbell's and Kraft Foods.
To lead the operation, Cox has hired Tori Glendinning, whose background includes serving as food and home sales director at Gourmet Magazine, and as Eastern sales director at Sunset Magazine.
Cox's unveiling of Appetite Media comes on the heels of Meredith Corp. Monday announcing its acquisition of EatingWell Media Group, whose properties include Eating Well magazine, Recipe.com, content licensing and marketing programs, and a recipe app. Meredith Chairman and CEO Steve Lacy said food is the top advertising category across its content brands covering areas such as home, family, health and self-development.