- In October, USA Today Network acquired Grateful Ventures, a lifestyle vertical, which included Thanksgiving.com, per a press release made available to Marketing Dive.
- The relaunch of Thanksgiving.com is the first post-acquisition product. USA Today intends on making the website into a go-to holiday resource year-round.
- For now, the relaunched site has a new look, fresh content and a user-friendly layout with content including recipes, how-tos, crafts, cooking tips and tricks and holiday histories with the goal of turning it into an ultimate guide to the holidays. The content is being produced by Grateful Ventures editors and writers along with curated content from its Food Blog Stars blogger network.
With traditional print publishers struggling to monetize their digital offerings, a growing number are turning to food-related content, which lends itself to videos that can be shared via social media and attracts advertisers.
USA Today Network, which is owned by newspaper publisher Gannett, recently reorganized to put a bigger focus on marketing solutions. The Grateful Ventures acquisition and Thanksgiving.com relaunch appear to fit into this strategy, opening the door for advertisers with a bigger emphasis on food-related content.
Publishers are making a big push into food content. One of the best examples is Meredith with its Allrecipes.com, which Meredith claims is the number one media food brand, boasting 1.5 billion annual visits and 8.2 million readers. The brand recently announced a deeper integration with AmazonFresh, enabling browsers to click to buy a recipe's ingredients, a move the publisher sees as an important step to attract CPG advertisers, who are looking more closely at e-commerce.
One challenge publishers face with digital food content is making sure it is getting in front of the right audience as ad-supported food videos on Facebook have been shown to have a large audience outside the U.S. even though ads are directed at a U.S. audience. There also indications the market for food videos may have reached saturation with growth leveling off.
USA Today Network is also betting on other areas of digital content. A little over a year ago USA Today Network began producing branded weekly virtual reality show for its app, VR Stories app and on YouTube.com/VRtuallyThere. Toyota signed up as the first brand sponsor for the VRtually show running the first “cubemercial,” which at the time what Kevin Gentzel, USA Today Network’s chief revenue officer, described as “a showcase of our pioneering effort in building an ad standard in VR.”