Why Time Inc. Acquired HelloGiggles

HelloGiggles TimeIncTime Inc.’s purchase of Zooey Deschanel-founded HelloGiggles, a site geared to young women, had its roots in a strategic relationship the companies put in place earlier this year.

That partnership saw Time Inc. and HelloGiggles partner to create integrated advertising programs. About 15 dual programs ran with retail, beauty and tech advertisers, mainly with display advertising programs.

“Working together as partners reinforced how complementary the brands are,” said Sophia Rivka Rossi, CEO of HelloGiggles. Plus, Time Inc. had additional sales and editorial resources it needed.

That made both parties realize they could benefit from having HelloGiggles become permanently part of Time’s fold. They did not disclose the purchase price, but other outlets have pegged the number at between $20 million and $30 million.

“We think it’s a great brand fit, reaching a millennial audience with a positive celebratory voice,” said Rich Battista, president of People and Entertainment Weekly. He joined earlier this year with a background in television media, another area where the companies have high hopes.

HelloGiggles doesn’t have much of a video presence now, but aims to develop programs in time for next year’s NewFronts. Time Inc. will also explore the possibility of a Vice-style expansion into TV.

Branded Content Synergy

HelloGiggles employs 10 people in its editorial department but sources much of its content from its 400-person strong contributor network, so content ends up being written by and for millennial women with an average age around 26. Many of those contributors have participated in sponsor programs for advertisers like Cover Girl.

Time Inc. plans to build on that contributor model. It can also cross-expose content and branded content across People and Entertainment Weekly, giving it a wider reach.

In September, HelloGiggles’ website posted 11 million unique visitors, according to comScore, not far behind Entertainment Weekly’s 18.6 million uniques, although only a third of People’s 32.7 million.

But according to Candace Tischer, director of sales partnerships for People, HelloGiggles adds to the publications’ unduplicated reach by bringing in more of that coveted young millennial demographic. The audience overlap is 3 million uniques.

Time Inc. also expects HelloGiggles to help infuse its other brands with knowledge about how to thrive in a digital world. “They’re mobile-first and social-first,” Battista said. “Those are capabilities and experiences that we want to bring inside of our company.”

The trade, then, looks something like this: HelloGiggles brings its brand and its knowledge of how to thrive in a digital pure-play world, and Time Inc. brings the infrastructure to scale it up even further, expanding branded content and video along with live events and ecommerce (HelloGiggles sells artwork by its readers on the site).

Other traditional media brands have had the same idea lately.

Last week, Condé Nast bought Pitchfork Media. In April, Scripps Networks Interactive invested in another female millennial-focused site, Refinery29, to the tune of $50 million. Other recent examples include Axel Springer’s purchase of Business Insider, NBCUniversal’s investments in BuzzFeed and Vox, A&E Networks’ investment in Vice and Daily Mail’s $50 million purchase of Elite Daily.

For all the synergies, Battista suggested the purchase came down to the strong bond HelloGiggles has with readers.

“We’re interested in brands that have an authentic voice,” he said.

On Monday, Time Inc. shuttered another property, All You, which was once exclusively distributed in Walmart and focused on reaching the money-saving female shopper.

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1 Comment

  1. Awesome stuff can’t wait to see some of the analyses! Out of csuoirity, you mentioned in the post that traditional models would not predict mixed-use developments for second and third class cities what type of developments would they predict?