Val Morgan Digital is working towards cementing itself as an advertiser’s playground after expanding its publishing stable with the acquisition of Thrillist and Popsugar in Australia.
Val Morgan Digital (VMD) announced on Wednesday it had teamed up with Group Nine Media to take over the Australian license of POPSUGAR and publish the local edition, POPSUGAR Australia. It joins Val Morgan’s other publications including The Latch, Fandom, and fellow Group Nine brand Thrillist.
In a bold move – launching two new publications amid an ongoing pandemic and crowded market – VMD managing director Brian Flordio (feature image) told B&T he’s confident of the decision to expand VMD’s publishing fleet.
“You can only control what you can control. Where our confidence comes from is that there’s a lot of experience within the current publishing team. We feel really confident, and we do stand apart from other digital publishers – especially the independent publications.”
Perhaps VMD’s true point of difference is that it sits comfortably under the Val Morgan Cinema Network, which is also home to Val Morgan Outdoor – a network of over 10,000 digital out of home screens across Australia and New Zealand. This, according to Florido, essentially allows the VMD to “triple dip”.
“We have access to the out-of-home sales team and have that ability to really complement what they do, and do in step with what they’re pushing to market. We can also talk to the cinema team and work with them in terms of brands spending in that environment. We essentially the luxury to be able to triple dip.”
With this tactical play, VMD has certainly cemented itself as an advertiser’s playground, which Florido said was “intentional” and “by design”.
“When we first set up this digital play, legacy businesses like cinema and outdoor have always stood apart, and never were they ever considered to work together. But if you think about the marketing funnel, you’ve got big brand emotion through cinema, through to storytelling of digital, to point of purchase of retail through the world of out-of-home.
Florido continued: “The strategy was never to be just another publishing network of multiple sides and multiple audiences. What we’ve done has been intentional and by design. Everything and every publication that we have launched is there to really complement the cinema and outdoor network.
“The world of Thrillist complements the cinema-going experience. In a normal world, you go to a movie and you may look up for a bar or restaurant to go to him before a film. And when you look to a publication like Popsugar, it’s super strong in the world of commerce, which really complements our outdoor business. Everything’s been intentional in regards to how it complements the wider ecosystem of Val Morgan.”
Not only do Val Morgan’s offerings complement each other, but under Thrillist, Popsugar, The Latch and Fandom, VMD has a range of demos and audiences in its grasp.
As Florido puts it: “We have a nice portfolio of people that we can speak to at a digital level now, but then we have that ability to expand that into millions of people in the OOH and cinema space.”
What also makes VMD’s play so smart is the added benefit of taking learnings from the US and applying it in Australia.
VMD publisher Amanda Bardas said: “The best way to put it is we are brand guardians for Thrillist and Popsugar. Our job is to continue to tell their story with their messaging but through an Australian lens.
“We’ll focus on Australian talent, Australian people, Australian places, Australia, and everything through an Australian lens. It’s a true partnership, working with Group Nine. We will work really closely with the US team, taking all the learnings and insights from their market, and implementing those learnings locally.”