In Circulation: New York Media purchases Menupages.com

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New York Media LLC, the parent company of New York magazine and NYMag.com, has purchased MenuPages.com. DMNews sat down with Serena Torrey, executive director of business development and corporate communications for New York Media, to discuss the acquisition and what it means for the New York brands.

Why did you decide to purchase MenuPages?

New York Media, particularly in the online space, has a deep database of restaurant listings and reviews. We see about 600,000 unique visitors to that channel each month —which makes us one of the leaders in our market — but MenuPages is the clear leader. They see anywhere from 1.5 to 2 million unique visitors to their listings. They've also built a tremendously efficient method of gathering menus and making sure they are updated. Putting together NYMag.com's online [editorial] strengths with Menupages' system and breadth of listings will give us the lion's share of the market in terms of online restaurant traffic.

 

What exactly does this mean for New York Media? How will this help you, particularly in regards to consumer marketing, loyalty, brand-building, etc.?

When it comes to online brand building and online traffic, this brings New York Media an immediate infusion of 15 million page views a month, and analyses show very little duplication between the two. Hopefully, we'll be able to bring in a new audience to all of NYMag.com's products, not just menu products.

When it comes to the magazine and circulation efforts, having access to an entirely new crop of customers in the region who are interested in many of the same things the magazine covers will clearly be useful.

What will happen to the top executives at MenuPages?

The president and founder of MenuPages, Greg Barton, will become the general manager for MenuPages here at New York Media and will report to Michael Silberman, our general manager of digital media.

Does the acquisition affect any other jobs at either company?

We have 14 people coming in from MenuPages, and they also have extensive staff in India. There will only be jobs added; certainly no one will lose out in this deal.

The MenuPages staff will move into New York magazine's offices. We run a very lean and efficient operation on the Web site already, so there are plenty of things for people with expertise to refocus on, and we anticipate that we'll be adding staff as MenuPages continues to grow.

Does this acquisition mark a strategy shift for New York Media?

Bruce Wasserstein [of Wasserstein and Co., which owns New York Media] has thus far implemented a two-pronged strategy for growth in the online space. One part is allowing the company to grow organically based on market forces and the expertise of folks here. Our Web site was up and running long before many other publishers, so we have had a Web business — not just a Web presence — for many years now. The owners have also given us space to grow the site organically and have given the cash investments we needed.

This is a third facet of the growth strategy, which is targeted acquisition. It's a facet that Anup Bagaria [CEO of New York Media] makes clear he will continue to pursue.

Do you think online investments and acquisitions are (or should be) a trend among print brands now?

I'm not sure what is good for other companies. I know that we worked very hard to develop an expertise in building a Web business before we went out and looked to acquire other businesses. It was very important to know how to run and grow our own company before seeking out others.

What's the next step for New York Media?

In the short term, we want to continue to fine-tune our circulation and make sure that it's as strong and dedicated and engaged as it can be. We're not looking to grow our circulations; we think the rate base of 425,000 [is natural], but we always want to make sure we're introducing new potential readers to the brand. We also want to continue to grow ad pages.

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