Though videos and mobile apps are driving advertising revenue growth, not everyone's ready to give up on websites.
Evolve Media, a Los Angeles company that owns and operates about 45 "enthusiast" websites, announced Tuesday the purchase of AfterEllen.com from Viacom Media Networks. The lesbian-focused community has a stable slate of contributors that is "very engaged," said Evolve Media Chief Executive Brian Fitzgerald. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Fitzgerald said it was cheaper than it would have been three years ago when websites were more of a powerful force.
"The people we have consulted with that are experts within the gay and lesbian category put it as arguably the largest but the most influential site of its kind," he said. "We want to buy brands and we want sites that are well-established and well-respected within their audience."
That AfterEllen.com doesn't do much with video or mobile yet isn't a concern to Fitzgerald.
"We're more focused on identifying strong audiences and not being overly concerned about the form factor or the device they are accessing from," he said of his 15-year-old, profitable company.
Evolve handles ad sales, marketing, technology and other back-end issues for all of the websites in its portfolio, which include CraveOnline.com and Momtastic.com. ComScore counts nearly 80 million monthly unique visitors across the network.
Fitzgerald said he expects the three-person editing crew of AfterEllen.com to take advantage of Evolve's production studio in Los Angeles. They'll also benefit, he said, from an increase in analytics-driven content decisions and Evolve's direct sales teams up-selling the value of the 25-to-54-year-old LGBT audience.
"Yes, digital publishing in general is harder," Fitzgerald said. "It is harder than two years to generate revenue and thrive, and there are a lot of independent publishing companies having a difficult time breaking even. For us, that's an exciting opportunity. It's increasingly a buyer's market."
Logo TV, a Viacom-owned channel focused on the gay and lesbian community, had taken over AfterEllen.com in 2008. The name of the website refers to Ellen DeGeneres, who famously announced on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 1997 that she was lesbian. She's not affiliated with the company though.
AfterEllen will be led by Trish Bendix, the site's newly named editor in chief, who told readers not to worry about the sale.
"While some of you might fear change, I can assure you there's nothing to be afraid of, as the content you've come to us for in the last 12 years will continue to have a home on AfterEllen," she said in a post Tuesday.