images via Cosmopolitan
Last week, Time Inc. announced that they have acquired HelloGiggles, a web-only lifestyle blog and community for young women. Why? Because since its founding in 2011 by adorkable and influential “it” girl, Zooey Deschanel, the website exploded in popularity though its clever use of social media and digital influencer star power. In the time between then and now, the website has developed a active and devoted readership. Its success is profiled in Forbes’ 2011 article, “How Great Word of Mouth Went Above and Beyond for HelloGiggles.”
Time Inc. is undoubtedly an established and powerful organization, and HelloGiggles is certain to benefit from the established resources that the company offers. It’s not a one way street, though. By absorbing a young, tech-savvy organization like HelloGiggles, Time stands to draw in a whole range of advertisers who never would have purchased space in one of its print publications. Time will also bring on a slew of new, social-media-conscious employees. The purchase signifies Time’s embrace of fresh, new media and a desire to appeal to younger crowds. As AdExchanger puts it, Time Inc. “expects HelloGiggles to help infuse its other brands with knowledge about how to thrive in a digital world.”
HelloGiggles draws in 17 million unique visitors each month, up 12 million from last year. Three in four of those readers are women under 35, looking for news and lifestyle info written from perspectives similar to their own. While the old-school print publications that make up most of Time’s holdings are still important in today’s media landscape, they don’t reach nearly the types of audiences that they used to. We know that print consumption among Millennials is nearly non-existent, and that most of Generation Y gets its information digitally. It’s no surprise, then, that media companies—who rely heavily on brand sponsorships and advertising to generate revenue—would turn to successful websites like HelloGiggles to spearhead their digital operations.
The absorption of smaller, niche publications by huge media companies seems to be part of a larger, growing trend. Earlier this month, Conde Nast (owner of such prestigious magazines as VOGUE, New Yorker, Wired, GQ, et al.) acquired Pitchfork, the indie music review site. Millennials are a powerful demographic with ever-increasing buying power and the messagee is finally getting throug. With these mergers, media companies are finally taking the first steps toward marketing to Millennials on their own turf.
Investors put $1.2 million into the company and, though the terms of Time’s acquisition have not been released, LA Times projects that the deal may be worth over $30 million. The website, which is free to read and engage with, generates most of its revenue from ads. Digital pure-play sites like HelloGiggles have immense, untapped audiences for brands.
The Takeaway lesson:
Large publishers, brands, advertisers are marketing with influential blogs, social media influencers, and creating sponsored content to get in front of a new generation of consumers. Consider your own marketing strategy and how you could be reaching Millennials better.