GAWKER: We're Making A Ton Of Money From E-Commerce And We're Moving Into Sponsored Content

nick dentonBlog mogul Denton.

Photo: Michael Seto

A very interesting memo from Nick Denton of Gawker Media…Gawker has promoted three long-term execs to senior management positions (all deservingly so, based on our interactions with them).

But more interesting are the positions themselves.

The former editor of Gawker site Jalopnik is moving to a new “Content” division within the sales organisation. This group will write “branded content” and manage events and other functions.

Also interesting: Erin Pettigrew will now be managing what has “accidentally” become a big business for Gawker: E-commerce.  Gawker generated a startling $70,000 in affiliate fees from Amazon in December alone–without even trying. So Erin’s going to focus on this initiative.

Bottom line: These are more moves “beyond the banner ad”–the advertising unit that has supported most content businesses like Gawker’s for the past decade.

Here’s the memo…


———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Nick Denton
Date: Thu, May 10, 2012 at 3:10 PM
Subject: New business initiatives at Gawker — and the managers who are going to run them
To: All Staf

We’ve been doing this nearly 10 years. I’m not nearly ready to retire yet — or cash in. But we need to recognise there’s a new generation of management at Gawker Media. Today I’m going to talk about Ray Wert, Erin Pettigrew and Scott Kidder.


  CONTENT   We are creating a new content department within sales to be headed by Ray. It will encompass the existing creative services team and several additional functions: primarily branded content, marketing communications and events. Ray is the first editor to move to sales. (Ray’s deputy Matt Hardigree will take over Jalopnik.)    We all know the conventional wisdom: the days of the banner advertisement are numbered. In two years, our primary offering to marketers will be our discussion platform. Expanding on our existing sponsored post program, Ray’s team will recruit and identify a client’s spokespeople and advocates, advise them on web etiquette and language, and help make their most persuasive case.    Ever since the Cluetrain Manifesto, marketers have tried to adopt a more human and conversational tone in their communications with customers. The web may finally be ready to deliver on that promise.    ………………………………………………………..   BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT   The second main growth area for Gawker Media is content-driven commerce, ranging from affiliate marketing to in-page transactions. A historical tidbit: the original business model for Gizmodo was affiliate fees from purchases of gadgets through Amazon. We didn’t have the scale then to make that work. We do now. In December we made $70,000 from Amazon. Without really trying. No seriously, it was an accident.   E-commerce has been in limbo between sales and operations departments — and has accordingly never received full attention. We will rectify that. Erin will continue to work on the direct business, managing sales strategy, marketing and operations. But in addition she will take responsibility for business development, revenue partnerships and e-commerce integration.   In particular, we will be looking for revenue growth from affiliate partnerships and mobile. But Erin’s mandate will be to optimise our entire revenue mix.   ………………………………………………………..   MANAGEMENT   Joining Erin and Scott (about whom more in a future email), Ray will be on the operating committee. You know those Monday morning meetings in the red room or the glass conference room upstairs? Yeah, well that’s the operating committee. Fancy name, eh? It’s as close as we have to a management group.   Beyond the boost to three egos, these changes carry with them a few implications. First, we expect that the banner ad business will be supplanted by our content services and content-driven commerce. Second, unlike most companies during this bubble, we are planning for an independent existence for the next decade and beyond. And we don’t need to hire big names from outside to get us there; we grow our talent in-house.Gawker is the high-brow gossip sheet covering media, entertainment, politics and technology.

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