Case Study: How BDG Created a Plan for Redesigning Its Media Brands


When Emma Rosenblum joined BDG in 2019 as Editor-in-Chief of the Lifestyle Portfolio, she was tasked with injecting some of her old-fashioned editorial know-how into an SEO-driven growth strategy. and on a large scale that the four brands under his responsibility had grown up with.

Now Rosenblum is responsible for the content of BDG’s Lifestyle Group as well as the newly formed Parenting Portfolio and she is working to take all the lessons from the past two years and apply them to the latest additions to her business – Scary Mommy, Fatherly and The Dad, which were acquired as part of Some Spider Studios earlier this year for $ 150 million.

“I arrived at a time where we felt our growth was not necessarily where we wanted to put our resources,” Rosenblum said at the Digiday Publishing Summit this month. “We understood SEO, we understood the scale. [I was given the job of] maintain our huge audience while improving editorial, look, feel, writing, editing and overall quality.

Rosenblum and her team have created a plan to convert mass audiences into fans of the brands she oversees. Below is an overview of how they executed this plan.


Build a fan base from a massive audience

One of the first steps in updating the lifestyle portfolio was figuring out what audience the Rosenblum team wanted for each brand, as well as what the competitor set was doing.

Prior to BDG, Rosenblum held various editorial positions at several fashion and lifestyle magazines, including Elle and Glamor, legacy publications that had qualities she wanted to emulate in BDG’s lifestyle brands.

“When I was at Glamor, [there] There was always this idea that there were Glamor girls – specific people who loved Glamor and still bought it every month. We didn’t necessarily have that much for [BDG’s] brands, ”she said. “We want people to go to the home page”, not just an article through Internet search.

To address this, the editorial teams added more writers, developed franchises around certain areas of coverage, and prioritized quality in writing and art. This includes producing covers and digital reports to attract more celebrities like Demi Lovato, Janelle Monáe and Camila Cabello in the hopes that it would go viral.

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From the digital cover of Bustle’s August with singer and actress Camila Cabello


How he was executed

The migration of all BDG sites to a centralized operating system was an important step in the modernization and update of the lifestyle portfolio.

In May 2019, BDG acquired The Outline from Joshua Topolsky. While the online magazine was shut down at the start of the pandemic, its technology stack, which the company acquired with the website, was adopted and merged with BDG’s existing system for use by all major BDG brands. . The Some Spider Studio brands will also migrate to the tech stack next year.

So far, this move has given the sales team a streamlined way to sell ad campaigns across all brands. In addition, since all brands have the same building blocks, teams were able to easily manage site redesigns, newsletter launches and e-commerce links.


Findings: creation of an evolving and positive master plan for revenues

The more BDG brands produce these high caliber content packages, the more ad packages they sell.

While Rosenblum does not personally track the revenues of these brands, she said anecdotally, there are more thematic campaigns sold that are tied to the editorial calendar than before the brands were sold as a collective. . “It’s also great for our publicity team who can bring Bustle up and put it alongside Glamor or Vogue,” Rosenblum said.

With updated websites and more consistent editorial coverage, brands can also implement other revenue-generating products, such as newsletters and in-app ecommerce purchases.

Over the past six months, BDG has started relaunching its newsletters, as well as new newsletters that executives hope will create addictive behaviors among subscribers, such as referral programs and reward benefits for the community. reading the email and sharing it with a friend. And now, several of the lifestyle brands are using the content itself to sell products to their readers, incorporating shopping carousels, featured product pop-outs, and branding into content-related posts. , rather than sitting separately in a shop tab. .



Avoid printing for brand building and revenue growth.

BDG’s only print product is owned by W Magazine, which the company acquired in August 2020. The print product is a way to introduce the brand to some of the brand’s sponsors and super fans, but Rosenblum said it was focusing on the growth of digital sites.

Since joining BDG, the company claims that W increased its digital revenue by 199% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, in part thanks to access to the company’s branded content studio. , which allowed luxury advertisers like Celine and Bottega Veneta to purchase their very first branded content campaigns to run on the W.

“Our biggest customers for our other brands are more the mass distribution [and] they don’t care about the print. All they care about is the scale. They care about the quality of your brand and how it looks online, but they’re not looking for advertising for print products, ”Rosenblum said. “These are old school companies that are tied to this printing idea and who knows maybe 10 years from now that won’t be the case.”


Where are you going from here?

For Rosenblum, the goal is to make it a “step-by-step” model that can be used to integrate new acquisitions quickly and efficiently in the future.

It is not surprising that BDG wants to pursue other M&A opportunities in the future. Earlier this year, the company’s CEO Bryan Goldberg announced that he was looking to go public through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), which would open BDG to more money to buy companies. media.

“I think our company’s strategy of building great websites that have traffic and not deviating from them a million times has been really successful for us. My plan is just to get these sites ranked over the next year, see what else we can and want to acquire, and then sort of do the same, ”Rosenblum said.


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