The acquisition presents an opportunity to leverage TechMedia Network’s commerce functionality with Bestofmedia’s community brands, making clear that TechMedia Network’s definition of digital media is vertical media. I gave Greg Mason, the CEO of TechMedia Network, a call this morning to get some more details on the deal.
TechMedia’s e-commerce site TopTenREVIEWS currently drives 1 million purchases per month, a rate it hopes to see jump when sales are integrated with Bestofmedia’s sites, Tom’s Hardware, Tom’s Guide, and Tom’s IT Pro. The goal is to nestle content, advertising, community, and purchase recommendations into one money-making user experience.
The question is how to convert Tom’s readers to sale. Pairing content with commerce on a site like TopTenREVIEWS, when the reader is already looking to make a purchase, is much easier than moving a user from content to purchase when they aren’t necessarily in the mindset to buy.
TechMedia Network’s solution is pretty simple: use TopTenREVIEWS.
The Tom’s sites currently engage in commerce to the extent of linking through to merchants. Mason said the newly acquired sites would likely have more direct linkage from product reviews and feature stories to TopTenREVIEWS’ review platform, which is already effective at converting consumers to sale.
The thinking is that if you’re reading an article on identity theft, you might be interested to take steps to protect your identity. That’s where they link you through to TopTenREVIEWS.
Because tech news is inherently product-based, this plan stands a better chance than it would on many other news sites. But that is assuming that a person reading a feature story will convert to a purchase mindset simply by entering the TopTenREVIEWS environment.
Moving forward, TechMedia Network is looking to get into the UK market, Mason said. Bestofmedia has a European center of gravity but has little presence in the UK; TechMedia Network has none there. They also plan to develop the editorial staff and content for Tom’s Guide and Tom’s IT Pro, as Tom’s Hardware is currently Bestofmedia’s primary traffic driver.
Mason wouldn’t give numbers, but he said that both TechMedia Network and Bestofmedia are profitable. Aside from ad and commerce revenue, TechMedia syndicates its content to media sites including Yahoo, TechCrunch’s parent company AOL, MSNBC, and FOX.
As a point of contrast, TechMedia Network (and AOL) competitor Vox Media has been building its own vertical integration for a while. Vox, which publishes the SBNation, Verge and Polygon blogs, announced the creation of a new division of the company meant to function as an in-house advertising service at TC Disrupt in April. Because it has its own publishing platform, Chorus, Vox is able to fit its advertising closely with content and track each campaign.
From what Mason said of the commerce integration into the Tom’s sites, it doesn’t seem that points of purchase will disrupt the reading experience too much. Bestofmedia has given TechMedia Network a swath of active community members on which to monetize. We’ll see how effectively the two companies are able to leverage each other in the coming months.