Penske Media To Acquire Female-Focused Digital Publisher SheKnows

Penske Media, the publisher of WWD, Variety and new majority owner in Wenner Media, acquired multiplatform women’s lifestyle publisher and events company SheKnows Media, the company revealed Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

SheKnows, which claims to reach 79 million uniques per month across its flagship property, StyleCaster, HelloFlo and BlogHer sites, also owns the legacy BlogHer conference series, acquired in 2015.

SheKnows will give Penske, which has pursued an aggressive acquisition strategy of late, more digital clout.

SheKnows’ BlogHer business also meshes well with Penske’s live events business, according to CEO Philippe Guelton.

SheKnows Media will operate as a division of Penske Media and retain its branding and headcount. Over time, Guelton foresees exploring more synergies with other Penske titles and properties.

“In many ways, we align very closely with Penske, which has strong editorial credibility and content,” he said. “We plan to continue to increase our investment around our content strategy, both online and offline, through our conferences like BlogHer.”

SheKnows brings strong programmatic chops, having developed its own data-driven CMS and header-bidding wrapper, which is white-labeled and used by about 1,500 other blog sites.

But that service and SheKnows' own programmatic tech stack will remain through the acquisition, Guelton said.

And although numerous publishers are rethinking their digital distribution strategies (or going out of business) in light of Facebook’s algorithm change, which deprioritized content from brands and publishers in the news feed, Guelton said SheKnows was not impacted.

Facebook's percentage share of its traffic is in the single digits, while search is a stronger performer.

“We always believed consumers were discovering our content with intent, which is why Facebook was almost nonexistent in our traffic sources,” he said. “Viral publishers are going to face immense challenges going forward, whether it’s Facebook or other social platforms who change their strategy whenever they need or want to.”

SheKnows has been profitable for about a year and a half, Guelton claimed. The company snagged a $22 million credit facility in 2016 and saw the opportunity to sell to Penske as a viable route to repay its investors.

“We were backed with private equity money, and their goal is not to stay in the business forever,” he said. “We are at a point where a lot of players in this field have been oppressed on margin and lower direct advertising sales.”

Conversely, SheKnows' programmatic business, as well as its events operation, represented revenue growth areas for the publisher.

 

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