‘Helping people discover information’: How Red Ventures grew into a giant

Digiday 16 Sep 2020 04:01
September 16, 2020 by Max Willens

Whatever you do, don’t call Red Ventures an intent media company.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based media company, founded in 2000 by CEO Ric Elias, which made headlines this week when it announced a deal to acquire CNET Media Group from ViacomCBS for $500 million, has quietly built a portfolio of over 100 news and information sites over the past five years that the company now says reaches over 300 million readers worldwide every month.

The CNET acquisition was actually the fourth purchase Red Ventures made in 2020: The company also acquired the mental health site PsychCentral, Slumber Yard, a site that reviews mattresses, and Cord Cutters News, a site that covers the OTT space and reviews products such as Sling TV or YouTube TV.

Most of Red’s sites do make at least some money through display ads, and some, such as Healthline, which drew 75 million monthly unique users in July 2020, per Comscore, attract large audiences.

But Red’s portfolio is set apart from most media companies by sites that make most of their money from affiliate commissions, which they earn by driving sales or leads on pricey purchases, such as credit cards, movers, or energy providers. In categories such as credit cards, those commissions, particularly for publishers that drive high volumes of conversion, can run into the hundreds of dollars per user.

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Red Ventures