Media company Industry Dive is acquiring CFO.com and expanding its finance coverage after building a profitable business on B2B news
- Contrary to wider media industry trends, B2B publisher Industry Dive has had a strong 2020. The company is profitable and forecasts its annual revenue will grow 30% this year, to $60 million.
- Now Industry Dive is acquiring CFO.com, its second big deal of the year, and also plans to launch a new vertical, Payments Dive, in early 2021.
- While other digital media companies have struggled to compete with the tech giants, Industry Dive has thrived by focusing on niche industries.
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Contrary to many of the challenges thrown at media companies in 2020, Industry Dive has had a killer year.
The 8-year-old publisher, with more than 20 B2B titles including Retail Dive and BioPharma Dive, says it is on track to grow revenue 30% this year, to $60 million. The company confirmed it is also profitable – with 30% margins, as Digiday previous reported – positioning it to make acquisitions.
Backed by private equity firm Falfurrias Capital Partners, which took a majority stake in the business last year, Industry Dive is on an expansion streak. The company told Business Insider it is acquiring CFO.com, an addition that comes just a few months after its first major acquisition in July, when it bought NewsCred's marketing arm.
Industry Dive also plans to launch a new vertical covering the future of money and finance called Payments Dive early next year, said CEO Sean Griffey. The publication will sit between its banking, retail, finance verticals.
CFO started in 1985 as a monthly print magazine. The Economist Group acquired the company in 1985 and sold it to private equity firm Seguin Partners in 2010. The title was then acquired in 2016 by events company Argyle Executive forum, which will retain CFO's in-person events business.
The acquisition of CFO marks Industry Dive's first venture into print – the magazine still goes out to a controlled circulation of finance professionals eight times a year – though Griffey said it would assess the magazine's performance to decide whether to continue it.
Griffey said the key appeal of CFO is its in-depth features and analysis, plus its database of around 300,000 finance professionals across its website, magazine and newsletters.
The addition of CFO.com should also boost traffic to Industry Dive's finance vertical. CFO.com averaged 87,000 monthly unique visitors to its site from September to November in 2020, up 18% over the prior year, according to Similarweb. During the same period, Industry Dives' CFO Dive had 18,000 monthly unique visitors, up 13%.
The acquisition should also help Industry Dive deepen relationships with its enterprise advertisers. Griffey said the company now has more than 150 clients spending around six or seven figures on advertising with Industry Dive annually, with the top 10 clients averaging around $1.5 million in spend each. Last year, only about two or three clients were spending to that level, Griffey added. Already, forward-bookings for next year are up 40% versus last, he said.
Read more: 10 digital media companies that are hot acquisition targets, including TheSkimm and FuboTV.
In a digital ad market dominated by Google and Facebook, once high-flying digital media companies have struggled to compete with the tech giants' scale and resources for ad dollars.
Industry Dive, on the other hand, has made a laser focus on niche industries its point of difference.
This year it's also benefitted from B2B advertisers reallocating marketing dollars from in-person events into digital media. The company makes the vast majority of its revenue from digital advertising.
US B2B digital ad spending is estimated to grow 22.6% to $8.14 billion this year, thanks in part as advertisers shift spending from conferences and events, according to eMarketer estimates. Traffic to financial publisher sites has soared some 48.5% since the beginning of 2020 versus last year, according to an analysis of publishers on Dianomi, a business and finance native advertising platform.
"The financial industry c-suite can't unplug: The more dynamic the marketplace is, the more critical it is for them to stay tuned into expert news sources," Dianomi CEO Rupert Hodson said.
As tracking cookies are getting phased out and with the current trend toward more regulatory enforcement around data privacy around the world, first-party data is the linchpin of Industry Dive's growth strategy, and CFO.com fits into that approach.
"There's a real opportunity to build around first-party data and digital audiences in niche markets," said Griffey. "The media industry has been looking for the pivot that saves them somewhere – the pivot to video, the pivot to whatever – [but the real value is in] scaled first-party data companies with niche, valuable audiences."
Terms of the CFO.com were not disclosed. A person familiar with the matter said CFO.com would generate about $5 million in revenue this year. Around 10 editorial and operations staffers will join Industry Dive, which plans to hire more journalists for the CFO team. Industry Dive currently employs 240 full-time staff.
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