In the startup world, funding announcements happen daily. The “Uber of this” and the “Tinder of that” is the common nomenclature in the headlines showcasing how many millions of dollars a company has raised and the billions at which it is valued.
However, modern advertising has changed what one considers a startup; the term is no longer exclusive to apps and games, but has broadened to media companies and a new brand of publisher which blends the best aspects of the aforementioned ventures.
Here’s a look at some of the publishers raising massive amounts of cash as keen investors observe their novel approach to content and modern advertising.
A leader in native advertising and one of the very first to harness the true power of social in publishing, BuzzFeed was recently infused with $250-million USD in funding from Comcast. By generating fun, shareable, bite-size pieces of content which slot well into Facebook and Twitter feeds Buzzfeed has created the optimal portal for brands to get in front of audiences again - their ubiquitous listicle has proved the format of choice for consumer product and entertainment marketing. Open up your Facebook feed and scroll - you’ll hit a BuzzFeed post before you hit any of the traditional news publishers.
Before you start thinking hard news is over in the age of short attention spans, Vice’s news portal proves millennials crave serious content catered to their generation. Vice Media received $500-million in funding in 2014 from a combination of Technology Crossover Ventures (an Electronic Arts and Netflix investor) and A+E Television networks to expand their operation will you will find nary a banner ad and instead a focus on native advertising.
Vice’s mobile friendly mix of serious content through News, Noissey (their music portal), and Munchies (food review) amongst many others mimics a traditional news network but with an authentically modern voice. No wonder brands are clamouring to have their sponsored content on the site and its founder Shane Smith claims “Vice will be 10 times bigger than CNN.”
What was initially a scrappy network of sports blogs run by fans in cities across North America, the former SBNation transformed into Vox Media when a group of disgruntled AOL Editors exited Engadget and took advantage of the software the company had built and made it the backbone of The Verge. Vox Media has emerged as a growing media empire in and of itself. Now it powers the technology site The Verge, Polygon, Vox, Eater, Racked, Curbed, Re/Code and the initial sports blogs which started it all.
The technology-first approach to publishing hits a chord with audiences looking for the latest news on all of their streams, and Vox’s in-house creative team led by Lindsay Nelson produces stunning sponsored videos which rival the glossiest made for TV spots, bringing in major ad dollars and peaking investor interest. Funding has come from a steady stream of sources so far including Comcast Ventures, Accel Partners, and Telus Mobility among many others totalling more than $70-million USD.