Refinery29 Will Use $50 Million Investment And New Video Series To Attract Millennial Women

R29Refinery29’s Wednesday NewFront was all about taking advantage of what CEO Philippe von Borries called “a moment to define brands for a new generation of consumers.”

That new generation? Millennial women.

The publisher, which logs 25 million monthly uniques, already reaches a quarter of that demographic, according to comScore. But Refinery29 wants to reach even more, which is what Tuesday’s $50 million in Series D financing from Scripps Networks Interactive and WPP will help it accomplish. The publisher’s total funding is now $80 million.

And Refinery29 is wagering video will lead the way. Last spring, it launched two series, “I Am Icon” and “Style Out There.” The latter, a six-episode series, clocked more than 2 million views.

Wednesday’s event followed that theme as Refinery29 unveiled R29 Originals, two dozen video programs including a scripted series (the dark comedy “The Skinny”), a documentary (“Trendsetters of Tehran”) and a tutorial (“Foodie Prep School”).

The series will be distributed on Refinery29, YouTube and social channels like Facebook and Snapchat. And with Scripps Network Interactive’s investment, linear TV is on the horizon.

“We see Refinery29 building an iconic media brand, and [linear TV] is an important part of it, and an important piece in selecting Scripps,” von Borries said, noting Scripps Networks’ and Refinery29’s strengths in the fashion, lifestyle and home categories.

Brands seeking to advertise using the content pursue sponsorships, integrations or custom pre-roll.

“It’s taking their brand point of view and weaving it through the stories we know our audience wants to hear,” said Amy Emmerich, head of video. She was hired away from Scripps Networks Interactive in January, and previously served as a head of production for Vice.

According to von Borries, WPP invested because of Refinery29’s unique strength with millennial women. “The female point of view stood out, and they saw it’s the only company building creative for women.”

Besides investing in video, Refinery29 will seek growth outside the US. It will set up operations in the United Kingdom and Germany, with plans to launch a German-language edition by early next year.

Raising $50 million puts Refinery29 in an small group of digital-first publishers: Vox ($107 million raised), BuzzFeed ($96 million raised) and Vice ($580 million raised). Such vast investments put pressure on founders to generate continued growth. Does von Borries feel that pressure?

“There’s a clear and joint understanding that we’re building Refinery for the long term, and everyone is totally committed to that journey,” von Borries said. But it seems Refinery29 has no cause to worry anyway. “We’ve tripled the business year over year for the last four years in a row. We’re on an aggressive path to reach our user wherever she is in the mobile and social ecosystem.”

 

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