Refinery29 goes beyond fashion in serious news push
Refinery29 is betting that serious coverage of the California drought can live next to advice on what to wear to your next dinner party.
The fashion and beauty site, founded in 2005, has slowly expanded its editorial remit to politics, technology and culture over the past few months. In the last week it has covered a range of serious stories, including gun violence, the Boston bombing trial and abortion laws. The moves have been driven by a series of new hires, including former MSNBC reporter Meredith Clark and Wired alum Christina Bonnington, who will cover politics and tech, respectively. Refinery29’s total headcount has doubled to 230 people since last year.
“Beauty and fashion are important to our readers for sure, but they also want all the other things they experience each day filtered through our lens,” said Refinery29 vp of editorial strategy Neha Gandhi, who said that the site hopes covering more serious topics will deepen its relationship with readers.
Such editorial expansions are fashionable these days. Mashable started out covering social media before expanding to general interest and hard news, and Business Insider, formerly Silicon Alley Insider, started out covering the New York City tech scene before going broader. Ditto for the Verge, which is going beyond covering the minutiae of tech news in favor of a Vice or Wired-like lifestyle remit. And, of course, BuzzFeed was a cute viral cats site before its major push into hard news.
One thing all of these sites share, of course, is venture capital. Refinery29 has raised $30.4 million since 2010, and it’s rumored to be raising another $50 million. With such funding, however, comes the mandate to churn out more content, get in front of more readers and attract a larger stable of advertisers.
Refinery29 has gotten the growth part already nailed down. The site’s traffic has more than doubled over the last year from 9.3 million monthly unique visitors to 23 million, according to comScore, which ranks the site second in the beauty and fashion category, above competitors such as Yahoo, Hearst and Mode Media.
Such expansions do have their downsides, however. For one, there’s no shortage of general interest, technology and politics outlets on the Web today, which puts the pressure on Refinery29 to differentiate itself from the many alternatives readers already have. Gandhi said that Refinery29 plans to use its female focus to hone in on the coverage areas that she said are underserved, particularly how fashion intersects with technology and issues around women’s rights issues, reproductive rights and transgender concerns.
There’s also the risk that expanding too far could dilute Refinery29’s existing brand and drive its current readers away. But agencies say that that’s an issue Refinery29’s largely shielded from.
“I don’t think this is too big of a jump at all. A big jump would be if they did something extreme like cover Congressional politics,” said Tracy Quitsol, director of Ignition Factory East. “It’s natural because people aren’t one-dimensional, and there’s room for publishers to think about what else their customers are doing and care about.”
But while many publishers are feeling the pressure to expand their editorial mandate, not all are coming from the same space. Unlike tech and business, which are notoriously difficult verticals to monetize, the fashion and beauty categories are already full of lucrative endemic advertisers. The New York Times said it launched a men’s fashion section this month due in large part to inbound interest from fashion brands.
“Publishers are broadening in order to find more attractive advertising markets. They don’t have the same luxury of choice that Refinery29 does,” said Bryan Goldberg, CEO of Bustle. “Refinery29 can do this at their own pace — it’s a great position to be in.”
Why an evolved B/R Gaming is investing in its linear, televised gaming content
B/R Gaming’s investment in televised content is proof that linear broadcasting companies are realizing the potential value of the gaming and esports audience.
Member ExclusiveCase Study: How Dentsu is pushing advertisers to embrace brand integrity
After 2020, brands got serious about brand safety, taking steps to ensure media placements weren't appearing alongside harmful content. At Digiday's Media Buying Summit, Dentsu's Brand Safety team talks about what it'll take to create industry wide media buying standards.
‘I think it’s all talk’ about DE&I: Overheard at Digiday’s Media Buying Summit
Participants in a breakout session at Digiday's Media Buying Summit ripped away the proverbial band-aid that might have made anyone feel significant progress is being made on DE&I in the media agency world.
SponsoredWhy boldness matters for publishers in the post-cookie future
Michael Zacharski, CEO, ENGINE Media Exchange (EMX) Fortune, it is said, favors the bold, and for digital publishers, the prospect of a cookieless advertising future should be viewed first and foremost as not only an opportunity for boldness, but as a time when boldness will be necessary. As an industry, marketers need to be bold […]
‘I could barely walk’: Some COVID long-haulers radically reduce work hours to cope with symptoms
Professionals who are COVID long-haulers, have had to radically adjust their working schedules in order to cope with symptoms.
Member ExclusivePublishing Summit Recap: Publishers establish infrastructure to future-proof data sets
Publishers shared insights at the Digiday Publishing Summit at the end of September in Miami.