Thrillist Grows Up – and Out

On Thursday, men’s digital lifestyle magazine Thrillist is unveiling a revamped mobile app, heralding both an expansion of the brand and a narrowing of the focus of its coverage. Instead of all-things-dude, Thrillist’s content will primarily cover food, drink and travel for the modern man.

The company, which until today has primarily distributed its men’s lifestyle content to its nearly 3 million subscribers via email, is essentially conceding that its core audience has changed the way it consumes content – and what it’s interested in.

“We needed to get focused,” said Ben Lerer, CEO of Thrillist. “There are still lots of other areas we touch on, but it all connects to that idea of helping guys figure out how to spend their money in those categories.”

The old app, for example, used to be an afterthought, a dumping ground for repurposed content from the Thrillist website. You’d be able to read the articles, but the content didn’t make sense for the guy who’s out-and-about town, looking for a nearby sushi joint or dive bar. Now, the app is attuned to the mobile environment.

As such, someone who has downloaded the app can see not only the best of the town in whichever category — mainly food or drink — he’s looking for, but also which of those places are closest to where he is. He can look up the 10 best pizzas in New York while waiting in line at the liquor store and be given a list that was created by a local Thrillist editor.

In the past six months, Thrillist has expanded its market, creating targeted content for guys in Montreal, New Orleans, Berlin and Toronto. It plans to be in Paris, Amsterdam and Buenos Aires by the end of the year. Twenty-five cities have at least one Thrillist writer in them. And while its Web audience is relatively small (just 1 million uniques, according to comScore), it has something advertisers clamor for: data.

The company bought JackThreads, a members-only clothing “shopping community” for men, and advertisers like the targeting capabilities that stem from the Thrillist and JackThreads audiences. There’s also Crosby Press, the company’s e-commerce and content arm, which advertisers like because it lets Thrillist readers buy the items they’re reading about.

“You can see them move to a diversification strategy,” said George Hammer, vp and group director of digital strategy at Digitas. “They’re trying to become a lifestyle brand, rather than a push-out model.”
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