Halogen Media Acquires Social Marketer YouCast

For the past for years, there’s been a tug of war between paid media (aka “traditional advertising”) and earned media (“social media marketing”). Halogen Media Group, an online marketing company focused on “prestige” brands, has acquired social media/ad tech firm YouCast as part of its strategy to bridge the divide in internet advertising, says Halogen founder and CEO Greg Shove.

For Shove, the tension between earned and paid media is false. Marketers are doing both. And they’re doing it ways that blend the two.

“Brands want to build their own (content) networks and use paid media to activate users alongside them,” Shove said in an interview with paidContent. In other words, brands are thinking like publishers. But they’re still acting like marketers.

For one thing, Halogen believes this stance will help it better differentiate itself against established social media networks like Glam Media and Federated Media, as well as other relative newcomers such as Say Media. All three of those companies have been actively snapping up ad tech firms and content plays over the past year.

Halogen has a few ideas of how to attract more attention from “prestige marketers.” Part of it is positioning. For instance, Shove eschews the term “luxury” as too narrow. The luxury category doesn’t encompass brands that aim for a certain cultural cache, especially ones self-identify as “premium,” but don’t necessarily carry prices that are too far out of range of most consumers’ bank accounts. And Shove isn’t just interesting in connecting advertisers with consumers in a generic sense — he’s promising to deliver “influencers.”

Speaking of influencers, in February, Halogen hired former About.com and IAC (NSDQ: IACI) exec Peter Horan as its executive chairman. In addition to having an executive with a proven track record in running high profile media properties, Halogen also hopes that Horan’s presence will influence blue chip marketers to take notice of the ad company.

The purchase of a social media specialist like YouCast, which comes with a client list that includes PepsiCo, GE, Turner Entertainment and the NBA, is also intended to inspire advertisers who are shifting more spending into alternative media sources and looking to build and maintain their own social networks.

YouCast co-founders John Eaton and Jonathan Cohen will remain in their current roles as President and chairman/chief development officer, respectively. No layoffs are expected. Quite the opposite, Shove said, noting, “We now have 10 open positions, will have 30 to 40 people in NY by the end of the year.” Terms of the deal between the two New York-based companies weren’t disclosed.