May 30, 2023 - Economy

Graham Holdings' Leaf Group restructures as World of Good Brands

Photo: World of Good Brands

Leaf Group, the digital roll-up company within Graham Holdings, is restructuring to become World of Good Brands, an homage to the most visited website in its portfolio, Well+Good.

Why it matters: The shake-up will separate Graham Holding's lifestyle publishing websites — Well+Good, Livestrong, Hunker and OnlyInYourState — from its marketplace businesses, Saatchi Art and Society6.

  • The heads of all three companies — World of Good Brands, Saatchi Art and Society6 — will report individually to Graham Holdings, which executives believe will help the brands grow faster.
  • Graham acquired Leaf Group in 2021 for $323 million in cash.

Details: As the World of Good Brands, the four lifestyle websites will operate independently under the leadership of newly appointed chief executive Lindsey Abramo.

  • Abramo, who previously worked at Vox Media and before that Group Nine Media, was named chief revenue officer of Leaf Group last year.
  • She told Axios she believes the separation will make it easier to focus on business models that can serve niche audiences across the four sites, like commerce and experiences.
  • In addition to its four main lifestyle sites, World of Good Brands will also continue to operate The Good Collective, which is a collection of 50+ small lifestyle sites.

State of play: Right now, World of Good Brands' four main sites and The Good Collective mostly monetize through programmatic ads, but the restructuring will allow it to push more aggressively into direct sales.

  • "We are doubling down more on direct [sales], given what's happening in the industry and what's happening with traffic," Abramo said.
  • "In the past, programmatic [automated ad sales] has been a really big part of the media business. And you know, like everyone, we're seeing that decline," she added.
  • The company makes some money from affiliate commerce, or linking to sites where consumers can buy goods, for a cut of the revenue. In the future, it's looking to set up its own storefronts for its brands — similar to what sites like BuzzFeed and MeatEater are doing.
  • World of Good Brands, which is based in Santa Monica, is planning an experiential space in Los Angeles called House of Good that it will lean on to build out more experiential programs for its brands.

By the numbers: The four lifestyle sites within World of Good Brands receive about 37.5 million monthly unique visitors. The dozens of sites within The Good Collective reach an additional 33.6 million monthly visitors.

  • A company spokesperson said World of Good Brands brings in eight figures of revenue annually but said they "cannot comment on profitability."
  • In its last public earnings report, Graham said that revenue for the Leaf Group's media businesses "declined substantially in the first quarter of 2023" due to "reduced traffic and the soft digital advertising market for both direct and programmatic categories."
  • Leaf Group, it said, implemented a SIP (strategic investment plan) to reduce the number of employees in the first quarter.

The big picture: Graham owns several media entities such as Slate, Foreign Policy's parent The FP Group, local podcast network City Cast, kids audio network Pinna, and Graham Media Group, which houses seven local media networks.

  • In addition to those businesses, it also owns Kaplan, an educational services company; Clyde's Restaurant Group, a chain of restaurants in the D.C. area; Framebridge, a digital custom framing company; Code3, a performance marketing company; and many more.
  • Graham Holdings was formerly called the Washington Post Company. It was renamed in 2013 after its chair, former Washington Post publisher Don Graham, sold the paper to Jeff Bezos. The company is run by Graham's son-in-law, Tim O'Shaughnessy, who serves as CEO and president.
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