Complex Media Expands To Create Dedicated Digital Unit

Buoyed by the growth of its vertical ad network, Complex Media is launching a dedicated business unit for digital advertising and content.

The young men's lifestyle brand (parent company of Complex magazine) has brought in Mike Golden--former CEO and president of Home Décor Products--to help lead the expansion, in addition to making key hires in the technology, content development and digital production divisions.

Golden, whose experience includes entrepreneurial and leadership positions at Organic (prior to the Omnicom acquisition) and Global Sports Interactive (now GSI Commerce), will share the title of co-CEO with Complex Publisher Rich Antoniello.

The expansion comes at a time when many print-based media outlets are downsizing or struggling with monetization. But Antoniello said that Complex Media's offering has remained viable because of the brand's knowledge of--and efficiency at catering to--its target audience both in print and on the Web.

"We translate better to the Web than most magazines, because frankly, their sites suck," Antoniello said. "It took us three years to fix it and get it right, but we did. And only after that did we launch the network." Antoniello cites Forbes as one of the few other male-oriented publications with a comparably large online presence. "GQ and Details don't even have their own Web sites," he said. "They're part of that men's network--but how do you claim to be relevant to anyone under 30 and not have your own brand online?"

Besides, there are just seven other sites within the Complex Media Network, all centered around interests like sneaker culture, graphic design, and the hip-hop lifestyle. Combined monthly page views have topped 45 million, with unique visits averaging 3.5 million per month--and while the mean age of visitors is 29, Antoniello said that roughly 52% of the traffic is driven by 21- and 29-year-olds.

Brands including McDonald's, AT&T, Xbox and Courvoisier have run campaigns on the Complex Media Network, but Antoniello cites a recent effort by Adidas as indicative of the full potential of the company's new division. "We worked hand-in-hand with Carat for Adidas, because they came to us and said: 'You know and understand our consumer as well as we do--help us design a concept and create a program that will reach them,'" he said. The company then got to work developing print and online creative with Carat, including video.

Earlier this year, Reebok tapped the network to launch a promotion for its sweet-smelling, Kool Aid-branded line of sneakers, and was met with positive results. "They bought roadblocks on all the sites, and even took over the backgrounds for a day," Antoniello said. "And the CTRs were 10- to-20-times normal."

In addition to Golden, Complex Media has brought on Chris Piazza, who will serve as CTO, and Jason Jercinovic, a new vice president of content and production. Seth Kelly and Brendan Frederick have also signed on as content development director and deputy content development director, respectively. Complex Media is the publishing and new media arm of New York-based Marc Ecko Enterprises.

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