Complex Sells To Verizon x Hearst

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man…” What started as a clothing brand then a digital magazine has now grown into a digital network so strong that some of the world’s largest brands are thirsting for a taste. Telecom-giant Verizon and reformed-magazine publisher magnate Hearst Corp have agreed to purchase Marc Ecko’s Complex Media under their new partnership banner Verizon Hearst Media partners. The deal represents a huge step change in the urban digital landscape and we’ll break down exactly why.

While terms of the deal have not been released, the Wall Street Journal noted that the agreement would value Complex between $250-300 million dollars. This number may seem staggering but consider what has been happening behind the curtain for the last few years. Remember our friends like NahRight, 2dopeboyz or Pigs and Planes? A while back, Complex banners started appearing at the bottom of their pages, which didn’t mean they sold out but instead entered a partnership that would allow Complex to sell ads against their traffic.

Consider this – while individually, each website may drive a decent chunk of traffic, collectively, all of Complex’s partner websites drive over 55 million unique visitors per month. To an advertiser, those numbers are good – probably great. Their most elusive target is young men and the Complex network absolutely owns that demographic with their portfolio. Multiply the 50 million unique sets of eyeballs a month and it starts to feel like $300 shmilly rocking dollars might not be the top of the pyramid.

If you’ve been on Youtube in the last few years, and research says you have been on it in the last 10 minutes alone, there is no doubt been a highly visible influx of ads playing before and during your selected content. These are necessary evils because good content costs money and the viewer doesn’t want to pay for it so brands subsidize the cost with annoying ads. Complex saw this happening in sneakers, fashion, cultural news, battle rap and more and decided to begin purchasing Youtube channels by the dozen that had large, engaged followings. Jump to the top of 2016 and their portfolio was massive, competing with MCN’s (multi-channel networks) like Machinima, Full Screen, Maker Studios and more for eyeballs.

Do those names sound familiar? Maybe not, but their content likely is. So familiar, in fact, to the average person, that brands like Disney are willing to bet upwards of $1 billion on an MCN to start targeting ads to their subscribers. Years after companies like NBC were trying to sue Youtube, they are now scrambling to buy into networks, like Complex, that can connect them with millenials who cut the cord on broadcast television in their homes. Think of an MCN like Complex or Maker Studio as the wholesaler – they’re willing to pay the smaller networks to push their product (brand’s ads) on their corners because they know that by combining a bunch of the corners, they can triple up on that investment. All in, these MCNs are hitting monthly numbers that dwarf broadcast television statistics with highly segmented audience interests which is making alot of people nervous.

While we aren’t connected to Complex in any fashion, the homeys in the Time Life Tower deserve a round of applause for their hustle. Under the guidance of Rich Antoniello and an All Star fleet of producers, writers and creatives, they’ve grown from a t-shirt brand with the rhino on the front to a 9-figure media giant. Forget popping a bottle, click on some ads to celebrate the success of urban media in a time when DCMA complaints are tanking our most popular cultural outlets.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 at 2:23 pm and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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