News of the Day

By Adam Glantz   |   Posted at 3:36 pm on August 20, 2012   |   No Comments

Dude, Here’s Your Series A: Ben Lerer’s Thrillist Raises $13 Million

In 2008, Fred Harman and Oak Investment Partners bet big on Ken Lerer and the Huffington Post, and that worked out pretty well. Now Harman is putting his money into another Lerer project.   The twist: This one is from Ken’s son Ben, and his dude-centric Thrillist Media Group empire.

Oak is leading a $13 million round for the newsletter/e-commerce company, along with the Lerers’ own Lerer Ventures and Bob Pittman’s Pilot Group. It’s just the second round Thrillist has used since Lerer started the company in 2005, when he was backed by $2 million from Pilot.   It used to be tempting to write Ben Lerer off as a privileged kid playing around in start-up land. Seven years later, that has become a very hard argument to make.

Thrillist started out as a Daily-Candy-newsletter-for-dudes, but has since branched into e-commerce with the 2010 acquisition of Jackthreads, a Gilt-Groupe-for-dudes. Lerer says the combined company is on track to make a profit on $60 million in revenue this year. And while he won’t disclose a valuation for the new round, my hunch is that it’s more than two times those revenues — at least $120 million.

The new version of Thrillist is now more e-commerce than media business, with about 65 percent of its revenue coming from Jackthreads. And many pure-play e-commerce companies have been struggling recently (see this excellent Chris Dixon post about the industry’s challenges).

But Lerer plans to plow a bunch of the new money into an M&A plan focused on media sites, so he can build out that part of the business again.

Read more: AllThingsD

Three Ways to Use Targeting and Technology to Make Useful Ads

Respect, Engage and Connect With Consumers, and They’ll Respond

Ask any marketer, and I bet they’ll tell you that the abundance of media and ad choices they enjoy today — the sheer breadth of their arsenal — is as much a curse as a blessing. Simple, one-size solutions don’t exist anymore. And in an era where consumers wield the lion’s share of power in such a diffuse media landscape, the onus rests on brands to find new ways to create meaningful relationships with their customers.

Consumers no longer have patience for advertising that doesn’t inform or delight. They don’t need to. The same technologies that bring content to audiences anywhere and anytime often allow those same audiences to skip, block, and opt-out of the advertising that pays their freight. Learned behaviors keep evolving as users get better at blocking our messages. This leaves brands pushing harder and harder to measure and improve ad viewability and work around still-pervasive banner blindness.

The challenge is there for even the savviest marketer, but so is an enormous opportunity: to produce advertising that respects, engages, and connects with consumers. Advertising in the interest of the consumer.

Here are three ways that marketers can leverage the opportunities of our still-evolving world to engage people and capture their diminishing attention:

Respect Consumers. The emphasis on user experience comes in and out of vogue, and one place we need to revisit it is video. Video is on the rise — content and ad plays are skyrocketing — and there’s a ton of momentum for brands to leverage. Users want to see video advertising that’s relevant to the content they’re viewing, puts them in control with user initiation and enables choice about when and how to engage. Ads that can put the user’s needs first will be able to deliver on the true promise of digital advertising: accountability and engagement.

Read more: AdAgeDigital

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