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Fortune’s events membership strategy
Plus, intel on Bustle Digital Group’s ad revenue
I’ve been intrigued by the membership model within Fortune’s events strategy. In today’s note, I’ll give a brief primer, with some thoughts on why it’s compelling.
Fortune’s events memberships center around annual summits, in addition to other benefits:
Virtual events & roundtables
Meetups at major industry events, such as Davos and CES
Access to other Fortune conferences
Complementary subscriptions to Fortune
Today is actually the summit for Fortune’s community of ESG executives. Next month will be the summits for Fortune’s CEO Initiative (a $17,000 annual membership), as well as the Most Powerful Women community. The $9,500 Brainstorm Tech membership had its summit last July.
Interestingly, CEO Initiative members “have the opportunity to participate in a video interview series with a Fortune staffer, highlighting your business with purpose, and published on Fortune.com.”
From a business perspective, memberships like these are compelling for a number of reasons:
They provide a revenue stream that’s more stable than one-off ticket sales – and a strong foundation on which to layer sponsorships.
They provide a framework for ongoing engagement with members throughout the year.
They further network effects as participants build relationships with one another over time.
The hardest part of building a membership like this might be getting started – there’s a chicken & egg problem before you have network effects in place. Sometimes a buzzy moment can do the trick – Fortune’s CEO initiative, for example, grew out of a 2016 meeting between 100 CEOs and Pope Francis at the Vatican. Publishers that have existing tentpole events – or even engaged readers within a specific segment – already have a running start.
To go deeper, here are PDF overviews of benefits included in Fortune memberships:
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Some interesting intel from’s podcast interview with Bustle Digital Group CRO Jason Wagenheim:
85% of ad revenue comes from their in-house agency (as opposed to on-site media impressions), with the agency promoting content on social platforms.
Advertising headwinds. Bustle’s revenue will be down this year, the first time in 10 years, expecting to hit $175 million. Marketers are releasing dollars later than normal, and the tech category is down, while the auto category is up.
Live experiences often anchor deals. “We had Samsung make a significant investment with us… to activate on the ground at Coachella. We created this massive immersive art display using some well-known visual artists… they had this massive footprint where guests were able to trade in their iPhone and check out a Samsung Galaxy phone for the night and use the photography feature, which is something they were really promoting… and overall we generated 2 billion press impressions just for Samsung.”
And here’s the latest news in digital media:
The Economist will launch a $4.90-per-month podcast subscription tier.
WaPo revamped its Style section with a new design, newsletter, and social products.
The Sporting News raised $15m in a round led by a gambling software company.
Barstool reportedly used anonymous X accounts to post copyrighted content.
More leaders have left The Messenger.
The Colorado Sun is moving to a fully nonprofit model.
A court in The Philippines acquitted Maria Ressa after a multi-year trial.
Platforms & AI:
Google’s big antitrust case kicked off.
The US Copyright Office denied copyright protection to another AI-created artwork.
X appears to be throttling links from the NYT.
More tech companies joined a pledge to help mitigate the risks of AI.
- ’s perspective on Press Forward’s $500 million local news initiative (Second Rough Draft)
Politico EIC John Harris’ memo on newsroom org structure (Politico)
A podcast interview with Yahoo CEO Jim Lanzone (Grit)
Deep dive on Reach’s reader revenue strategy, which includes a slew of Substack newsletters (Press Gazette)
First-hand account of how The Guardian’s engineering team has supported its reader revenue strategy (The Guardian)
Profile of Walter Isaacson (New York Mag)
Analysis of the resolution to Disney & Charter’s dispute (Stratechery)
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