Brian Florido on expanding VMD’s ‘unique’ advertiser offering with Popsugar Australia

Val Morgan Digital (VMD) continues to expand its digital publishing network, announcing a new partnership with US holding company Group Nine Media for women’s lifestyle title Popsugar.

Citing Group Nine’s Google Analytics from October 2020, VMD reports that Popsugar Australia reaches more than 1.2 million Australians each month, and managing director Brian Florido tells Mumbrella its addition to VMD’s stable of titles is part of the publisher’s plan to deliver a “unique” and “formidable” media offering for advertisers.

Managing director Brian Florido

Looking back on 2020, a year where many publishers were forced to cut costs and close titles, Florido reflects on the “unique position” that VMD is in, situated within the wider Val Morgan Group.

“For us, 2020 was all about setting the right foundations that will allow us to deliver a formidable media offering to advertisers in 2021 and beyond,” he says.

VMD’s growing publishing stable also includes affluent over 30s title The Latch and Fandom. The new deal sees VMD expand its partnership with Group Nine Media, after recently launching the Australian edition of fellow Group Nine-owned Gen Z food, drink and travel brand Thrillist.

Florido adds that the continued growth, both through taking on new publications and additions of key staff, is part of a longer-term plan that means VMD is now “in a unique position to create advertising packages that complement our cinema and outdoor businesses, with content that drives richer conversations.”

Popsugar was formerly published by Fairfax Media-owned Allure Media until its assets were folded into Pedestrian TV when Nine acquired Fairfax Media in 2018.

It has been published in Australia for more than 10 years, and according to a 2020 Tubular Labs study is the #1 most engaged-with women’s lifestyle site globally.

Expanding at a time when the sector has contracted is already reaping rewards for VMD, Florido says, and the publisher to leverage Val Morgan assets including cinema and out of home.

“We’re seeing great success in our approach so far, with VMO engagement rates increasing by 16% when linked to VMD content and a 23% increase in direct traffic back to a URL when content is pushed out across the VMO network.”

“This will continue to be our focus, as we go beyond traditional digital environments and approach publishing with a wider lens, one that includes cinema and OOH advertising.”

Group Nine associate director of new initiatives, Joaquin Delgado, said; “Popsugar is the number one female lifestyle brand and most-viewed fitness publisher on social in the US and since launching in Australia over 10 years ago, quickly became the go-to publication for young Australian women.”

“We’ve got big plans for Popsugar Australia and will be on-boarding a soon-to-be-announced editorial team under the leadership of Amanda Bardas, publisher, while commercial opportunities will continue under the leadership of Adam Fischer, national sales director,” Florido adds.

In late 2020 Val Morgan announced four new hires on the VMD team, including Alyce Thomas and Claudia Pearce as agency partnership managers.

At the same time, Nicola Laing came on board as strategy and content manager, while Jack Revell joined VMD publication The Latch as branded content and weekend editor.

Ben Tyers then also joined in December to lead the newly launched Thrillist.

VMD is yet to finalise the Popsugar Australia editorial team, and flagged with Mumbrella that an announcement will be made in the coming weeks.


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