Every publisher needs an in-house branded content studio, conventional wisdom holds — and now every branded content agency needs a publisher, too. At least, that seems to be the thinking behind the latest deal from veteran advertising and media investor Gary Vaynerchuk, who is acquiring women’s lifestyle publisher PureWow with an eye to building a native ad juggernaut.
Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed.
The acquisition of PureWow lays the groundwork for a broader strategy, including the launch of additional online publishing brands, all operating under the aegis of a new company created by Vaynerchuk called “The Gallery.” The new publishing brands will employ similar monetization models, all relying on branded content.
PureWow has built an audience of around 10 million unique visitors per month with content targeting older millennial and Gen-X women. It eportedly generated revenues of $20 million in 2016, with the lion’s share coming from branded video advertising on the site.
Its list of branded content clients includes Cover Girl, Olay and Cartier.
Under the terms of the deal, PureWow founder and CEO Ryan Harwood will become CEO of The Gallery, which will work closely with Vayner’s digital media agency, VaynerMedia. According to Business Insider, Harwood expects VaynerMedia to help PureWow and other planned digital publishing companies achieve greater scale, in part through partnerships with platforms including Facebook and Google.
The fact that PureWow has built its current audience without relying unduly on platforms may have made it more attractive as an acquisition target, as social distribution has proved to be a double-edged sword over the last few years.
Last year, for example, the Daily Mail and General Trust wrote off its 2014 acquisition of Elite Daily, a lifestyle publisher targeting millennial readers, as a total loss, to the tune of $31 million. Founded in 2012, Elite Daily had built huge audiences through social media distribution, especially on Facebook, but this scale proved fleeting.
After achieving a fairly regular traffic of around 35 million unique visitors per month in late 2014, by November 2015, this traffic had fallen by half, to an average of around 16 million per month.