2007 was a busy year for TheStreet.com (NSDQ: TSCM), as it made a number of acquisitions, launched new and redesigned sites, in addition to taking on some extra growth capital to fuel all this. The upshot, says CEO Tom Clarke, is that comparing the company today to where it stood on the precipice of the last recession is like comparing “apples and oranges.”
— New strategy: Diversification: TheStreet.com is no longer just TheStreet.com and RealMoney. It’s now a network, which includes MainStreet.com, BankingMyWay, RateWatch, StockPickr, all supported by a common platform from Promotions.com. Other components of the strategy: a single ad sales team selling a whole network, greater development of evergreen content with a longer lifespan, increased use of SEO. Right now, TheStreet.com doesn’t get much search traffic, since it was originally conceived of as a subscription site. M&A: With its cash and its stock, the company is prepared to do accretive acquisitions.
— MainStreet: “If you look at the audience that is really just involved in the market, that universe hasn’t grown…. MainStreet brings us the cohort where money and life intersect.” Clarke also noted that the site has helped the company broaden its demographic, helping its flatten out its heavily male-skewed reader base. “(Eventually) will be a bigger site than TheStreet.” In the mantime, the site will help drive traffic across the network. The site is ad-supported, but there are plans to introduce a lead-gen element, helping to diversify the revenue stream.
— BankingMyWay: Clarke believes there’s room for a second player in the financial lead-gen space (Bankrate.com (NSDQ: RATE), of course, is the big one). Growth won’t come overnight, but Clarke hinted that the company will promote the site across its other sites to drive traffic.
— Promotions: The idea behind this acquisition is that advertisers will want to work directly with media companies, particularly at the high end.
— Site redesign: There’s now 25 percent more ad placement on a page… The ads work better on the site.” Other advantages: better navigability, increased engagement and more
— Multi-platform: Company wants to put its content on a “multitude of mediums”: video, mobile, podcasts, etc. “Advertiser love video… the challenge for anybody in this space is to figure out what works from an advertiser perspective.” Clarke offered a number of types of advertising (pre-roll, etc.), but didn’t really offer an answer of what was working best.:
— Economy: “In the core business, we have not seen that (a slowdown) occur yet.” This is partly because the company’s advertiser base isn’t concentrated in the financial services space. Even with an overall slowdown, the company is still benefiting from the macro shift to online.