Tribune Media Invests $25M In Dose Media To Make Native Ads Viral

Dose Media Series BTribune Media will sink $25 million into Dose Media, a content company founded by 28-year-old media entrepreneur Emerson Spartz, who founded legendary Harry Potter fan site MuggleNet when he was 12 years old.

Dose Media, which publishes Dose.com and OMGFacts.com, will use funds from the Series B round to start its sales outreach to brands and agencies. The pitch? It will promise to make their sponsored content go viral using Dose-created technology. Brands could use the tech both on Dose.com and on other media properties they want to work with.

“We think guaranteeing virality will solve a number of problems in how native advertising is currently bought and sold,” said Spartz. “Now, it’s a cross-your-fingers ROI decision, where you buy native and hope that it moves the needle.”

Native advertising also works in a way that banner ads don’t, Spartz acknowledged.

“Banner ads are worsening in performance, despite increases in technology that should mitigate that through more effective targeting,” he said. “We think native advertising solves for this most effectively, because it aligns the incentives between users and advertisers in a way that traditional advertising doesn’t."

To make stories viral, Dose Media has built a tool that surfaces potentially viral stories (dubbed “Keppler”), a content management system to help write such stories (“Dante”), a tech to optimize such stories once written (“Mendel”) and two more solutions to support distribution. “Lovelace” determines which platforms and social media feeds to seed the story to, and “Darwin” finds the right audience on the web.

That package of technology will be available to brands as part of its push to “guarantee virality.”

Plus, as part of its strategic investment, Tribune Media plans to apply Dose Media’s technology to its own digital content, which is heavy in local broadcast news.

Until now, Dose Media solely monetized through programmatic ads. Given Dose and OMGFacts brought in 17 million monthly uniques in October, according to comScore, that’s contributed a significant amount of capital to fuel growth. Over the past year, revenue jumped 800%, Spartz said, outpacing traffic growth.

“Programmatic is what you do until you have a reason to build a direct sales strategy,” Spartz said.

Much of the investment will go toward Dose Media’s engineering team, which accounts for two-thirds of its staff. Dose employs an “army of data scientists,” Spartz said, adding that tech is key to publishing success.

On the content side, Dose Media plans to expand beyond general entertainment to other categories like sports, travel, business and politics. It will also diversify into video and add more original content, Spartz said.

The Series B funding comes two years after the company raised an $8 million Series A. At that time, the company was a collection of 30 meme-focused sites. Those funds enabled it to build out more of its technology as well as shift focus to Dose.com.

The biggest risk to Dose Media’s business is “competition,” Spartz said, since other publishers are taking the technology-fueled angle to publishing too. But he’s thoroughly convinced that’s the right approach.

“The problems that publishers face are the problems that ad tech companies face,” Spartz said. Ad tech companies have made progress in better targeting users – now it’s the publishers’ turn.

 

1 Comment

  1. Color me unimpressed. I ensure traffic quality at work for a large advertiser, and Dose.com is constantly presenting brand safety issues, as well as headscratching traffic patterns. If you do a simple Similarweb search of Dose.com, you will see a sharp decline (~70 MILLION users) in a matter of months. This COULD suggest that they were bringing in undesirable traffic to inflate their figures as another round of funding was coming up, OR it could be that now they just care since they are under more scrutiny.

    Either way, congrats. They've got the right people's attention, and hopefully with that monetary boost they can engineer some more original content. I know "meme-ing" is a hard business to stay at the forefront of; I'm sure I will see hundreds of lesser sites scraping Dose.com's content for ages to come.

    Especially if they can make interesting video content (that real people watch) I look forward to changing my tune about Dose.

    Reply

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