Group Nine Media is bringing in a digital ad agency veteran to help accelerate its revenue growth.
The media company has named Adam Shlacter as its first chief marketing officer for advertising & creative Services. Shlacter has logged nearly two decades in the digital media buying world, including stints at agencies such as Lowe, DigitasLBi, and Zentih. He was most recently president of global innovation for PMX, a division of Publicis Media.
Group Nine Media is a recently formed rollup of Thrillist, the animal-centric social brand The Dodo, the social news focused NowThis and the Discovery Communications science brand Seeker. Last year Discovery pumped $US100 million into the venture, which is now valued at $US585 million.
The company sells traditional ads, but increasingly has looked to produce big custom content offerings for paying advertisers. For example, NowThis now publishes a personal finance site on behalf of Chase, while Thrillist has cranked out a content outlet focused on booze for the liquor marketer Diageo.
It’s these sort of big ideas that Shlacter will be tasked with ramping up. The bet is that the veteran will bring an insider’s knowledge of how big marketers and top media executives think and make decisions, said Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer.
“If you look at the size of our audience and the rate that revenue is moving [from traditional media], there is a meaningful disconnect between the two,” Lerer said.
“The money is definitely moving. And you can take the 20-year approach, or you can say, ‘how do we move as quickly as possible and make that shift happen?’ To do that you need to understand how it’s set up [at agencies]. Adam’s here to help us figure out how to package up our marketing programs in a way that money really moves. There’s no better person to do that.”
Shlacter said he was attracted to Group Nine in part because the publisher is often first to test programs like Snapchat and Facebook Watch — while also benefiting from Group Nine’s ties to a traditional media giant in Discovery.
The challenge will be in helping bring marketers along for the ride. “If you look at how stories are being told and how audiences are behaving, the idea that I’ll be able to help shape it and help direct how brands approach this is really attractive,” he said. “I’ve gotten to work with clients of all sizes with all different types of business challenges, and I feel like the ad marketing community is really just scratching the surface in digital content.”
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