Brooklyn-based health and wellness publisher Mindbodygreen is bringing on BuzzFeed exec Tessa Gould as COO to put more juice behind the content and commerce model.
Gould, who started Monday, is the former head of commerce and VP of ad innovation at BuzzFeed, where she helped spur around $75 million in ecommerce transactions through BuzzFeed content last year.
Before BuzzFeed, Gould ran native advertising at The Huffington Post and founded HuffPo’s branded content studio (now AOL Partner Studio), where she was involved with projects for brands like Chipolte, Goldman Sachs and Cisco.
As chief of operations, Gould will be tasked with accelerating Mindbodygreen’s existing revenue streams: advertising, paid instructional videos and events.
Although advertising makes up the majority of Mindbodygreen’s eight-figure annual revenue today, it wants to create a 50/50 split between advertising and ecommerce-based revenue, said CEO and founder Jason Wachob.
“Wellness as a category is huge and growing rapidly, and I believe the advertising opportunity alone is as high as $100 million,” Wachob said. “But looking at ecommerce, the opportunity could be even bigger than that.”
While the ecommerce vision is still taking shape, Gould said it will have to be authentic and noted that BuzzFeed was extremely critical about what it sold through the online commerce portal it launched in October.
BuzzFeed could credibly sell funky tote bags and T-shirts with irreverent sayings, for example, “but is BuzzFeed going to be the definitive place to look for whey protein powder? Probably not,” Gould said. “If you’re going to sell a product, you need to have the expertise and the point of view.”
Mindbodygreen has already dipped its toe into branded content and affiliate marketing with partners like athleisure apparel brand Kit and Ace. Influencers were tapped from the Mindbodygreen community to write sponsored pieces for the brand that included links where readers could “buy the look.”
But regardless of what you call that – branded content, sponsored content, native advertising – it needs to fit comfortably within the publisher’s purview. Otherwise, readers will smell a rat.
“You have to look at it through this lens: Does it genuinely and honestly fit it in with the voice, the look and the feel and the platform?” Gould said. “Then it’s native.”
In addition to enhancing and developing revenue streams and spearheading the ecommerce strategy, one of Gould’s top priorities at Mindbodygreen over the next 6 to 12 months will be to grow headcount by around 50% from where it currently stands at 40, aiming to include more creatives, salespeople with experience selling online and offline content experiences as well as a VP of finance.
Mindbodygreen is in the process of closing a new funding round, having raised $1.87 million in seed and angel funding since 2012.