The custom content approach has been a popular strategy among digital publishing startups that recognize the decline of the banners-and-boxes business. BuzzFeed’s custom-only program is the most notable bet on custom content. PureWow and LittleThings have also focused on custom content as they start their direct sales businesses.
Direct buys for Greatist have mostly included display ads as a value-add, Flanzraich said, a sign of changing times.
With 4.4 million uniques in November according to comScore and 2 million subscribers to its email newsletter, Greatist is on the small side – and it still hears requests from brands and agencies wanting more scale than it can provide.
While Flanzraich hopes continued growth will help it reach some of these advertisers, he’s also hoping advertisers will change the way they think about scale. Smaller publishers with focused audiences can yield more engagement.
“The quality of the size matters,” Flanzraich said, “and I think that will be a big shift in the industry.”