Why the Video Network StyleHaul Hired a Veteran Print Executive as Its Revenue Chief
A longtime print magazine sales executive may not be the obvious choice to run ad sales for a digital video network aimed at millennial women. But that's the choice StyleHaul has made with the appointment of former Meredith exec Dick Porter as its cheif revenue officer. He fills a position that's been vacant since Alison Kennedy left in April.
StyleHaul CEO Stephanie Horbaczewski said she saw parallels between Mr. Porter's experience at Meredith, the publisher of magazine brands including Better Homes & Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal, and the business StyleHaul is building as it tries to sell brands on executions beyond run-of-the-mill ads. "The really big publishing houses have had to evolve and iterate their practices to become more complex offerings, which is actually a lot similar to us, but at scale," she said.
Print magazines have a long history of selling brands on more than just traditional ad pages: They also sell advertorials, forerunners of so-called "native" ads on sites like BuzzFeed and branded videos on YouTube. And those branded videos happen to be where StyleHaul primarily focuses its ad sales efforts. YouTube's sales team sells the pre-roll ads running before StyleHaul's videos, typically taking a 45% cut of the revenue, while StyleHaul sells videos that incorporate a brand and don't require sharing the take with YouTube.
StyleHaul, which was acquired by European entertainment giant RTL Group last year, has ramped up that branded-content business this year, creating a program called StyleHaul Society to make it easier for brands to work with the network's 6,000 creators beyond its biggest stars such as iJustine and Zoella. And it has signed a deal with Amazon for some of StyleHaul's creators to post videos on the e-commerce site reviewing products sold by Amazon. That type of work is right in the wheelhouse of Mr. Porter, who had served as Meredith's executive VP and president of media sales since 2011.
"He told me a very interesting story about a Home & Gardens deal that expanded into product and licensing and the complexity around how that was done, from maintaining editorial credibility and cross-marketing with a retailer. When he started to talk, I said, 'Ok, you're speaking my language,'" Ms. Horbaczewski said.
Prior to joining Meredith, Mr. Porter served as CEO of Publishing Group of America, which publishes magazines such as Relish, Spry and American Profile. His résumé includes a slew of other magazine publishing positions at companies including Rodale, Woman's Day and Reader's Digest, as well as a stint as AOL's exec VP-interactive marketing sales during the AOL-Time Warner days.