Glam buys U.K. ad company, surpasses Facebook in “reach”

Glam Media, the company that continues to pursue a wild land-grab strategy of buying up woman-focused media properties so that it can run advertising beside the content, has just made its most significant acquisition to date.

Glam said it has acquired Monetise Limited, a U.K. company that helps represent media properties in attaining advertising revenue. Monetise represents Flixster.com and other entertainment-oriented properties. While Glam has made several other acquisitions in the past few months, they’ve been very small. This one was the first significant acquisition, I’m told. Glam did not disclose the price, but we’ve heard from a source close to the company that Monetise aims to exceed $10 million in revenues this year and hopes to surpass $35 million next year.

Glam says it now reaches 42 million unique readers in the U.S., and is the ninth largest “media” property that also sells ads. It overtook Facebook last month on this basis, according to Comscore. See chart below (you’ll see Glam was 14th overall, but was the ninth largest media property).

However, the concept of ad network “reach” can be somewhat misleading. Glam may indeed “reach” these tens of millions of readers, but often does so simply because it is acting as an agent serving an ad on third-party web site that Glam doesn’t actually own. Facebook, by comparison, sells ads only on its own pages, and so its reach includes just people coming directly to it site.

This is partly what makes Glam’s continued growth claims so controversial. Some argue Glam is hyping itself by pointing to its large reach, and that it is akin to a house of cards that can come tumbling down if advertising dries up. However, in the world of advertising, reach is a legitimate concept. Brands hoping to send hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign care about reach, as long as the properties carrying the ads are legitimate. Glam’s trick is to keep growing the number of decent content sites it is representing, and thus the logic behind the Monetise acquisition.

Glam is gunning to become one of the top 10 web properties overall, in terms of reach — it aims soon to surpass players like Viacom, New York Times and Ask.

Glam is turning to other content areas, too.

After claiming it is the number one site in reach for women-focused advertising overall, it says it is now also the leader in the areas of “style” (fashion, beauty) and “living,” and is turning to “health.”

It is number four in health, after WebMD, EverydayHealth/Waterfront and Revolution Health. So don’t be surprised if Glam makes a move to expand in this area. Already there are rumors it is looking to acquire EverydayHealth or Revolution, though based on what I hear, Glam is still in the exploratory phase and is looking at several options. But buying one of those larger properties would make Glam first in health in reach, overtaking WebMD. With WebMD valued at about $2 billion, look for Glam to try to market itself as a comparable property — though Glam clearly would not offer the same robust information and other services that WebMD does.

Mayo Clinic and Dr. Phil are part of Glam’s health network.

Disclosure: VentureBeat’s business manager is the nephew of one of Glam’s co-founders.


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