G/O Media Rides The Contextual Wave In Bid For Profitability


G/O Media is aware of all too nicely concerning the headwinds dealing with digital publishers. And it’s betting a contextual focusing on providing will assist it get well from a dismal advert market 2023.

The corporate embodied final yr’s difficult media atmosphere. It underwent two rounds of layoffs in June and November, shuttered Jezebel, offered Lifehacker to Ziff Davis and completed the yr within the pink.

CEO Jim Spanfeller has denied rumors that the corporate is trying to dump its complete portfolio. However the firm has reportedly fielded inquiries from consumers fascinated by its flagship manufacturers, Gizmodo and The Onion – the “G” and “O” in G/O Media. Spanfeller appeared to verify that the corporate is taking part in talks with potential consumers, however didn’t specify which manufacturers have been on the desk.

G/O Media’s disappointing 2023 was largely on account of weak point within the digital advert market, mentioned Lou Tosto, SVP of promoting gross sales, programmatic and advert merchandise. However the firm is optimistic about renewed advertiser curiosity in contextual focusing on, which, Tosto mentioned, has lengthy been a spotlight of its direct gross sales efforts.

To lean into that chance, G/O Media introduced Thursday it’s introducing a brand new contextual focusing on answer known as Veritas Plus. The focusing on device combines first-party contextual alerts and information on viewers shopping conduct to create cross-site contextual segments that may be activated programmatically.

Nonetheless, time could also be working out for G/O Media, which is now about 5 years faraway from its acquisition by personal fairness agency Nice Hill Companions. It’s approaching the standard expiration date at which PE homeowners start rethinking their investments, Spanfeller just lately advised Axios.

G/O’s new efforts at producing advert income could possibly be the deciding issue as as to if its remaining properties get offered off or not.

Content material- and user-based focusing on

Veritas Plus is an improve to G/O Media’s present Veritas CMS, which the corporate launched in 2021 as a manner for its editors to manually categorize its stock and audiences.

The brand new answer permits advertisers to programmatically buy the contextual segments that G/O Media has spent the previous three years constructing, along with shopping for them via direct offers.

With this product launch, G/O Media joins a spate of publishers, together with Vox Media, Dotdash Meredith and Axel Springer, which can be doubling down on contextual as a approach to generate extra enterprise and future-proof in opposition to third-party cookie deprecation.


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Veritas Plus will provide 15 segments to start out, with plans so as to add extra. Classes embody tech fans, motion pictures and leisure, “foodies,” gaming, humor, multicultural thought management, enterprise choice makers, magnificence, journey and well being.

Stock is grouped collectively throughout domains on the website degree. For instance, Gizmodo and Quartz are below the tech umbrella.

However advertisers may goal customers that match into these interest-based classes as they browse different websites in G/O’s portfolio. As an example, if a person persistently reads tech content material on Gizmodo and Quartz, that particular person is perhaps positioned into the tech fanatic phase and later be focused on The Root, which is a common curiosity publication geared towards Black audiences that doesn’t have an express tech focus.

Consumers even have the choice to limit sure websites from their campaigns.

The programmatic pitch

For now, these contextual classes will solely be offered via programmatic assured and personal market offers, moderately than open public sale, Tosto mentioned. Advertisers should buy the segments immediately from G/O Media, or via a DSP and SSP of their selection.

The brand new answer takes the writer’s longtime method to its direct gross sales enterprise and adapts it for programmatic activation to make the most of rising demand for contextual focusing on, he mentioned.

The purpose is to drum up enterprise from new advertisers and get them to maintain spending, based on Tosto. G/O Media hopes it might probably replicate the success it’s seen in retaining present advertisers – it claims to have had a 70% advertiser retention charge in 2023 – with a brand new pool of advert consumers.

G/O Media additionally expects that Veritas Plus will develop the share of advert income it generates from programmatic.

Throughout its complete portfolio, G/O Media at the moment sells roughly 70% of its adverts via direct offers and about 30% programmatically, Tosto mentioned. The programmatic slice of the pie is kind of evenly cut up between open public sale, programmatic assured and personal market offers.

Turnaround techniques

Contextual focusing on is only one manner G/O Media is making an attempt to spice up its adverts enterprise.

The writer can be working with entrepreneurs to beat model security obstacles which have prevented it from monetizing sure stock up to now, and Veritas Plus is a part of that answer.

For instance, Jezebel’s editor-in-chief, Lauren Tousignant, has been outspoken about how model security restrictions spurred G/O Media’s choice to chop ties with the publication, which was later acquired by Paste Journal.

G/O Media now’s engaged on categorizing its content material based on sentiment, as an alternative choice to key phrase blocklists. The corporate will nonetheless honor advertiser blocklists, Tosto mentioned, but it surely’s additionally educating consumers on how blocklists have unintended penalties and the way sentiment evaluation is usually a fairer method to avoiding dangerous advert adjacencies.

Time will inform if these new initiatives can reverse the corporate’s fortunes. Publishers generally are below rising financial strain, and the clock is ticking on G/O Media’s income turnaround.

Replace 2/29/24: G/O Media’s place on potential acquisitions of its flagship manufacturers has been clarified. A earlier model of this story mentioned CEO Jim Spanfeller confirmed the corporate is in acquisition talks with consumers fascinated by Gizmodo and The Onion. Spanfeller didn’t specify that the conversations G/O has had with potential consumers included acquisitions of these two properties.


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