Digital Trends Invests $10M To Expand Video, Branded Content

The team at Digital Trends is gearing up to expand its video and advertising efforts, after securing a $10 million line of credit from JPMorgan Chase earlier this month. Though a 10-year-old media company, the Portland-based consumer technology reviews publisher doesn’t have the same brand recognition as Engadget or CNET.

Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Budkofsky and editor-in-chief Jeremy Kaplan want to change that. Though a 10-year-old media company, the Portland-based consumer technology reviews publisher doesn’t have the same brand recognition as Engadget or CNET.

Budkofsky said the site, unlike other brands in the tech digital publishing space, focuses on “real tech for real people.” Digital Trends’ reviews and news are “snackable,” Budkofsky said in an interview. “We have an accessible voice,” he said.

The site was co-founded by Ian Bell and Dan Gaul, a marketer and a former engineer at Microsoft, respectively, out of their personal interest in the use of technology.



That mission still stands today. Instead of in-depth information on processors, Digital Trends’ content focuses on how technology products are “useful. We focus on how technology will affect your life,” Budkofsky said.

Instead of going into detail on a list of the latest iPhone’s specs, a Digital Trends review will explain how the new camera is different than the one on the previous generation's phone. This sets them apart from the other tech sites out there, he notes.

And while Digital Trends may not be as well-known, it has grown rapidly in a short amount of time.

The company has been profitable the last two years, reaching its best traffic ever this year with over 26 million unique visitors in August and over 274 million page views in the last three months. That’s a 48% gain over 2015. Revenue has grown 65% since 2015. Last year, the company grew 115% from 2014.

According to comScore, Digital Trends was 10th in the tech-news category, behind CNET and The Verge, but ahead of USA Today Tech, Yahoo Tech and Business Insider’s Tech Insider.

Budkofsky said Digital Trends' business model relies on licensing and direct advertising. It has found notable success in its affiliate business by linking its product reviews and news with buy buttons.

In September, Boing Boing — a tech magazine turned blog with 10 million page views each month — became Digital Trends’ exclusive advertising partner. Digital Trends will manage Boing Boing’s entire ad inventory.

Plus, a partnership with Amazon’s Echo means anytime you ask the hands-free, voice-command speaker for tech news, the content comes from Digital Trends.

This year, new advertising partners have included Dell, Chevy Volt and Home Depot.

Digital Trends “focuses on efficiencies,” Budkofsky said, especially when it comes to producing content. They have roughly 20 writers who produce nearly 100 articles a day.

Digital Trends plans to use the investment from JPMorgan Chase to expand its “DT en Español,” a site created specifically for Spanish speakers and The Manual, a site Kaplan calls Digital Trends’ “little brother” — a crossover of tech and men’s “guides.” The site has been up and running since 2013, but formally launched about eight months ago.

The publication has recently staffed up its business department and is in the middle of hiring a head of video, to oversee the production of roughly 15 videos a day. Budkofsky and Kaplan said they are eager to create more original series, such as their existing "DT Daily," and branded content videos.

The company also wants to expand its sales and events division, such as its “Tech Pop” events, which will also help broaden their brand recognition.

Another plan: create a dedicated team to focus on building distribution partnerships. CNN, Budkofsky said, produces just a few articles a day on technology. Big publishers could benefit from Digital Trends’ tech articles, he said.
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