Whether It’s Sponsored Or Produced In-House, Fatherly Bets On Quality Content

FatherlyFatherly co-founder Michael Rothman hopes that when the typical Thrillist reader grows up and has a baby, he will start reading Fatherly.

Rothman, an early employee at Thrillist who worked there until 2012, realized that many in the site’s target audience were growing up and having kids. But content for those dads – funny, a bit irreverent, but also intelligent – didn’t exist. He saw an opportunity to “reach a market that hasn’t been addressed before,” Rothman said.

So in a sea of “mommy blogs,” he decided to create a place where dads could go to get hide-and-seek tips from a Navy SEAL or learn what to do if they drop their baby.

Fatherly launched last April with $2 million in seed funding.

As he builds his digital media website from scratch, Fatherly is focusing on two differentiators: high-quality editorial and advertising content and data-gathering opportunities. Like many digital media startups, there’s a notable omission of the web’s most common, but aging, advertising unit: the banner ad.

Quality Content

Rothman estimates there are 10 million to 15 million young professional dads in the nation’s top 15 markets.

“If we can claim 10% of the addressable market in the first year, we are in good shape,” he said.

Fatherly reaches 125,000 subscribers with its newsletter, Rothman said. Site traffic, close to 2 million monthly unique visitors, according to internal figures, is growing at a clip of 30% a month.

But Fatherly wants a targeted audience, not a huge audience. Rothman plans to go “vertical,” with a clearly defined audience and expert-based, evidence-driven articles written for that audience.

Fatherly has assembled a solid roster of advertisers, including Spotify, Johnson & Johnson, Progressive Insurance, Paramount and Plum Organics.

When Fatherly works with advertisers, it’s primarily with sponsored content. You won’t find many banner ads on Fatherly, except when they appear on behalf a sponsored content advertiser.

“We’ve created content that’s endeared this audience to the Fatherly brand,” Rothman said. “If we can rent out that trust, our audience, our content creation talent – that’s interesting to [our marketing partners].”

Distribution occurs on Fatherly, social media and on the brand’s own channels, which augments Fatherly’s smaller scale.

Fatherly strives for high-quality sponsored content, but also embraces some tried-and-true digital content strategies, such as listicles. It’s participating in Plum Organics’ #ParentingUnfiltered campaign, for example, posting an in-depth piece about parents’ challenges balancing work with raising a child along with “5 Facts About Parenting You Won’t Learn From Your Friends’ Social Feeds.”

Plum Organics chose Fatherly as a partner for the campaign because of the alignment between the publisher’s mission and its own.

Fatherly is “not your average parenting website,” said Ben Mand, SVP of brand marketing and innovation for Plum Organics. “They're an unconventional lifestyle resource who understands becoming a dad doesn't mean giving up who you are.”

When Plum looked for media partners that could create “genuine, engaging content … that reflects real parenting experiences,” the company added Fatherly to its list, Mand said.

Unique Data

Parents of 1-year-olds have much different needs than parents of 11-year-olds, so Fatherly tracks the ages of readers’ children along with email addresses for newsletter signups. It also collects similar information in the Fatherly Forum, an area with user-contributed content.

“The personalization happens not at the city level, but the age level, which is much more intimate,” Rothman said.

Though Fatherly is more in the collection stage than utilization stage, that age data will be used to personalize content and product offers.

Fatherly is already dipping its toes into commerce, with a “Shop” tab on the site linking to recommended toys. Right now, these affiliate links are purely a data play, Rothman said.

Seeing what people buy allows Fatherly to “understand the bottom of the funnel: what the audience is engaging with and at what price point.”

Eventually, that may translate to giving readers an offer for the three best baby monitors during the window when most consumers are in market for that item.

But Rothman puts Fatherly’s commerce play 12 to 18 months down the line, for two reasons. One, it’s capital-intensive. Two, Fatherly wants to build trust with readers first before it starts hawking products to them.

One day, Fatherly will tailor content and product recommendations to milestones in a father’s life.

While moms are generally considered the primary purchaser in households, maybe that will change for the millennial generation of fathers.

Dads can “be effective in driving consideration and purchasing decisions,” Rothman said. Plus, “they’re more of a malleable market than moms.”

 

Add a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>