Getting Glam

Famous for its female-centric sites, Glam now has bigger dreams—maybe even an IPO

The launch of Foodie and the hire of Matts are representative of Glam’s strategy moving forward. In short, it’s going after brand advertisers. Hard.

“The Glam buy was almost like a cult buy among media buyers,” says Matts, who, having served as OMD’s chief digital officer, brings serious Madison Avenue cred to the company. To drive home that point, Josh Martin, svp and group director of media strategy at ID Media, instinctively thinks of Glam as “a female-focused, long-tail-based ad network.” Arora has tasked Matts with changing that perception.

Martin and other media execs including Vik Kathuria, managing partner of corporate strategy and digital investment at GroupM/MediaCom, applaud Matts’ hire, agreeing that it brings to the company someone who understands what agencies and their clients want.

Meanwhile, the opinions of others suggest that Arora and his team have their work cut out for them. Some buyers have questioned its opaque, often shifting business model.

Even if one believes Glam’s enormous audience numbers, the fact is that many ad networks have big reach. Isn’t Glam just another collection of thousands of long-tail sites most people have never heard of in a sea of similar collections? It seems fair to ask: What’s so special about Glam? And more to the point, is Glam really worthy of an IPO? On the flip side, as recent history has proven, the appetite for tech IPOs is voracious. For every Facebook, there’s a Demand Media or a Groupon.

Meanwhile, as is evident in the launch of the sites Foodie and Tend—which attempts to translate Foodie’s micro-social content community for an audience of parents—Glam is serious about pushing new verticals, though some would argue the food category is already oversaturated.

In the first quarter of last year, “we started to see an increasing number of [food] brands come to Glam and actually start to advertise with us even though we did not have a food channel,” Arora explains with characteristic aplomb. (Befitting the head of a company called Glam, Arora is known both for the flair with which he spins his business pursuits as well as his sartorial choices. A Forbes profile from 2007 called “Pretty in Pink” describes Arora as “a dandy on a mission” who “adorns himself in Italian suits, French shoes—don’t mistake them for Italian or he will correct you—and splashes of pink: a coral-pink plaid shirt, a deeper-pink patterned tie and a matching, ever-present, perfectly ironed pink pocket square.” It is a uniform he still favors in the dressed-down world of Silicon Valley, where Glam is based.)

Glam has also gotten requests from brands for the development of a parenting vertical, according to Arora. “What’s unusual about Foodie and Tend is these are our first two channels that are really Glam as a technology media company responding to the requests coming from brands and media agencies,” says the exec.

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