Washington Post-Owned Digital Ad Firm Branches Out, Changes Name

Newspaper and magazine publishers have offered lead generation for advertisers through their Web sites for years. Washington Post Company, for instance, acquired CourseAdvisor in 2007 to drum up additional revenue from education advertisers. Now, the unit is changing its name to signify a move into additional verticals and services.

In the same way it connects students with schools today, the firm plans to move into the careers market to pair job seekers with positions. “It’s a natural next step for us,” said the company’s co-founder and chairman, Greg Titus, who believes the sector has “no place to go but up.”

CourseAdvisor will now be known as Avenue100. Titus said the firm is in the process of acquiring a career-related business to facilitate its move into the job market. He also sees promise in verticals such as travel and mortgage, but admits there is established competition there.

“We didn’t want to be perceived as a one trick pony,” said Titus. Recognizing the data it collects for education clients can be used to inform other marketing tactics beyond generating leads, the company has introduced e-mail and search marketing services, and hired new employees dedicated to those fields.

The company has doubled to around 50 employees in the past two years, said Titus. In addition to search marketing and data analytics staff, it has hired a social media manager dedicated to building and managing the Avenue100 brand in social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

With newspaper publishers still searching for digital revenue streams to counteract dwindling print ad and subscription revenues, lead generation can be an attractive side-business. In addition to the school listings site it runs on WashingtonPost.com, Avenue100 also aims to operate more sites for other publishers. The one it runs for Sun-Times Media Group’s Chicago Sun Times, for instance, could serve as a template. SearchChicagoDegrees.com allows users to search for schools according to geographic location and subject matter, and register to receive additional information.

“We’re hoping to do additional co-branded sites like that,” Titus said.

According to Titus, Avenue100 brings in $5 million in revenue per month, and handles about $2 million in media buys. The company runs e-mail, search, and display ad campaigns on behalf of clients. The Washington Post Company first invested in the firm in 2006.

Washington Post Company is not the only media firm to supplement its primary business with digital advertising services. Gannett has invested in such services in recent years to enrich its own properties and create new business-to-business revenue streams. Most recently, it acquired social media platform Ripple6, which powers its mom-centric local social sites and enables social platforms for Procter & Gamble and Meredith Corp. Gannett also owns rich media ad firm PointRoll and online shopping circular provider ShopLocal.

And Meredith Corp., publisher of Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness Magazine, and other women’s magazines and sites, announced yesterday it has enhanced its Integrated Marketing arm with a strategic stake in branded mobile content firm Hyperfactory, which serves clients including Disney, Coca-Cola, and Kraft.

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