Why Gawker Media is getting it right

2009 has seen many fumbling around looking to try and nail this online advertising caper.

A lot of talk has been around charging for content. Other talk has been around more impactful ad units. Even more talk has been around video content.

Gawker this year has increased revenue by following its gut instinct and doing what it does well – strong, unique content and interesting and appealing ad units.


For me, Gawker is a modern magazine business … the kind most magazine businesses wish they were in todays climate. One step ahead, great writers, excellent commercial sense and faster than the competition.

I found this quote from Nick Denton, Gawker owner, from an interview conducted 5 years ago.

“Most good media come out of somebody saying, This should exist, this is something I want to read.”

Sure, it sounds obvious. But it’s a good reality check when you’re looking to push content out either as editorial or branded content. I think for Gawker the above quote also references that Denton and his team know what their audience wants – probably before their audience does.

Locally, Allure Media has some of the Gawker titles and operates a similar model (personally I think at times the Allure titles lack the venom/wit that makes the Gawker titles so addictive) and they are seeing good results in a reasonably tough ad market. Its interesting to note that the major investor in Allure is Netus – which is backed by News Ltd.

So what are 5 things I think Gawker is doing right that we could take note of here

1/ Interesting Advertising Options. The Gawker titles have a flexible platform which means interesting ad options and takeovers aren’t difficult. They are done in a way that is impactful but not overstated. To me they feel like great magazine executions. Commercially they are smart and fast … whilst most were talking about more impactful ad units and debating which sizes and formats would work … Gawker went and did it. Took it to market fast and saw the benefits. Like good magazines http://advertising.gawker.com/capabilities/

2/ Their content is unique. You can’t get the Gawker content and editorial style elsewhere. Unlike many blogs it doesn’t just rip other media’s stories and add some snark … you read the titles because they have a point of view and content you can’t get elsewhere. Like good magazines

3/ Their writers know their subjects and their audience intimately. When reading a Gawker or a Defamer or a Valleywag you know the person writing it is knowledgable, connected and has an opinion. They don’t fall into the trap of employing ‘producers’ as editorial directors … they employ great writers who know how to curate interesting content. Like good magazines.

4/ The company and its titles have a personality. You know what you’re getting and they don’t treat their audience like idiots. It’s not dumbed down … reading it makes you feel like you’re reading something in the know. Like good magazines.

5/ It sets the agenda and doesn’t follow. The beauty of Denton is he doesn’t really give a hoot what others think … that doesn’t mean the titles come across as some sort of arrogant rant collection … far from it … but they are very good at covering topical issues but in a way different to everyone else.

Gawker now has 20m users in the US across 8 titles. They cover gaming, technology, cars, science fiction, sport, womens lifestyle and even porn. Categories that are generally high yield and generally live and die by their credibility.

And their basic sales deck is absolutely kick ass. Awesome.


One response to “Why Gawker Media is getting it right

  1. love this quote from Nick Denton at a recent Magazine Summit in NY: “At meetings at Gawker, we quite shamelessly rip off things that magazines do well…”

    definitely has his own style which generates its own discussion.

    We’ve purposely attempted to alter the tone for the Australian Gawker sites we publish – to remove the ‘venom’ as you call it. This is to ensure we have sites with a tone that will be acceptable to local advertisers.

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