The investment represents an expanded view of customer acquisition.
Who is What If Media Group?
What If Media is a performance marketing company that generates new customer acquisition for advertisers through proprietary media. The company has a self-contained digital ecosystem comprised of 25 owned and operated web properties, marketing automation tools that deliver customer acquisition solutions at scale. Through its properties, What If Media generates user registration with no reliance on cookies or third-party data providers. It does this by using its owned and operated sites to capture first party data and email marketing to nurture users. Having all this contained in one company limits exposure to regulation and allows for automation that would be difficult otherwise.
The company then creates offers for each consumer. The company then nurtures an on-gong conversation.
Why does this matter?
Search and social continue to be out of reach of all but the heaviest spenders and new customers segments and product categories are gaining comfort with online shopping. Companies like What If are capturing these segments at the top of the funnel and providing omni-channel nurturing and education, effectively brining new segments of shoppers online. If they can keep these shoppers in their ecosystem there is a lot of value.
Another factor driving investment in owned and operated (O&O) sites: potential regulation. Local, state and regional bodies are considering a range of regulation that will prohibit businesses from sharing user data with partners and the gatekeepers of user information (Google, Facebook, Apple, etc) are moving to restrict the flow of user information beyond their borders. This is in the name of privacy, but is also a giant strategic advantage. This combination increases the value of properties that can capture and own user data internally.
If What If can build ecosystem that keeps its users contained it could be the Home Shopping Network of the 21st Century. Lower barriers and lower switching costs make it a competitive market, but it is an interesting space to watch.
Abry Partners is a private equity firm founded 1989, that manages in excess of $5 billion of capital across its active funds.
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