In the past year, banks, financial services companies and fintech startups have acquired media companies, realizing the benefits of owning their audience to gain exposure, sell more products and become more profitable.

An extensive research paper from business analysis and market intelligence company CB Insights examines the possible motivations and ambitions of financial companies in acquiring media companies, delving into recent deals that have taken place.

The report accents that although there are a number of reasons for buying media and community, perhaps the biggest benefit is that it results in much lower levels of cost to acquire a new customer. The reason for this is pretty obvious: these platforms already have an audience and traffic, allowing brands to access a large pool of prospects almost overnight.

For these businesses, the ambitions are clear: to be able to run more contextually relevant and impactful marketing campaigns, to increase customer engagement and affinity, to become the preferred brand for specific topics, and ultimately to become more profitable.

Financial firms acquiring media companies

In the financial industry, the trend has certainly been seen over the past year with a number of high-profile acquisitions recorded.

In Q3/Q4 2021, JPMorgan, the world’s largest financial services institution, purchased two content/media assets: The infatuation, a popular restaurant discovery platform designed to provide honest recommendations on where to eat; and Franka fast-growing college financial planning platform.

Food and dining is a key expense category for card companies, and with its 1.5 million to 2 million monthly visitors, The Infatuation’s audience will not only help JPMorgan cheaply attract new cardholders, but also provide perks and benefits to existing cardholders , thereby increasing engagement and affinity, says the CB Insights report.

In addition to traditional banks, new-age finance companies and fintech companies are also aggressively pursuing media platform acquisitions.

More recently, Pipe, a US trading platform for recurring revenue, acquired Purely Capital, a media and entertainment finance company. Pipe said in a statement that the deal aims to help Pipe expand into other sectors, continuing its mission to become a trading platform for any recurring revenue company, regardless of industry.

Likewise, mobile banking platform MoneyLion announced in November 2021 that it had purchased Malka Media Group, a fast-growing digital media and content platform in entertainment, sports, gaming, live streaming and brand storytelling.

MoneyLion said the deal will not only allow it to accelerate its ability to engage with consumers across all digital and emerging channels, but also connect directly with communities on and off its platform.

Around the same time, Scalable Capital, a German non-broker, revealed the purchase of JustETF, a special interest portal for exchange-traded index funds (ETFs) and investing. Scalable Capital said the acquisition will complement its existing information resources and help it on its way to becoming Europe’s leading digital investment platform.

With a presence in Germany, Italy and other European markets, JustETF claims to be one of the largest ETF information portals on the continent, recording around eight million visits per month.

In the same category is the Swiss unicorn Avaloq from late 2019 i conquered full control of derivatives partners including online and offline derivatives magazine

In the US, Prove, a phone authentication service provider, purchased fintech advisory and insights platform Medici Global (including their online news site in March 2021 to expand its sales and business development activities and strengthen its marketing capabilities. Founded in 2013, Medici Global claims to have built the industry’s first insights and advice platform dedicated to fintech.


Asian financial companies are flocking to media companies

In Asia, AMTD Digital, the digital solutions platform owned by Hong Kong’s AMTD Group, is actively working to expand its presence in the media space. In August 2021, the firm finalized the purchase of DigFin, a local online journalism brand and fintech content agency launched in 2017 by financial journalist and author James DiBiasio.

The deal comes just months after the company’s strategic investment in Hong Kong-based digital media platform Forkast and its partnership with publishing and data firm 36Kr.

Founded in 2017, Forkast is a media site that covers all things blockchain and emerging technologies at the intersection of business, economics and finance. In May 2021, it closed oversubscribed Seed round of US$1.7 million 2021, which included the participation of Fenbushi Capital, Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, Animoca Brands, Longling Capital, CMCC Global and Sora Ventures.

AMTD Digital is far from the only fintech player in Asia to target fast-growing media companies and communities.

Just three months ago, Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency and blockchain infrastructure providers in the world, committed a massive US$200 million investment in business magazine and digital media platform Forbes.

The deal followed Vietceta US$2.7 million before Series A in August 2021, which involved investors such as Go-Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Gojek; Z Venture Capital, the corporate venture capital arm of Z Holdings, which is owned by SoftBank Group and Naver Corporation; Eastern Ventures; Summit Media; Genesia Ventures; as well as the Hustle Fund.

Founded in 2016, Vietcetera targets the Millennials and Gen Z audience and claims an audience of 20 million users per month. The company has plans to launch new vertical brands in 2022 focused on content for women, real estate and personal finance.

In Hong Kong, HashKey Capital, the corporate venture capital (CVC) fund of HashKey Digital Asset Group, participated earlier this month in USD 10 million funding round going to Decrypt, a media company focused on the cryptocurrency industry and the decentralized network, and its production arm Decrypt Studios, a Web3 studio specializing in metaverse activations.

Decrypt said it will use the proceeds to invest in further editorial growth and live video efforts at Decrypt Media, as well as continue building Decrypt Studios, which has so far enjoyed success with branded non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and metaverse projects for clients in fashion, entertainment and real estate.

A fork of blockchain accelerator and incubator ConsenSys Mesh, Decrypt claims to have grown to 5 million average monthly unique visitors since its inception in 2018.

Besides HashKey Capital, other investors who participated in the round included Hack.VC, Canvas Ventures, Protocol Labs and SK Group.

Other notable developments

To round out our review of the most notable media acquisition deals and funding rounds closed in the past year, we’ve compiled a non-exhaustive list of other notable news in the field:

  • Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange rolled out a new fact-checking blog to counter negative press coverage and “misinformation”;
  • Quartz, a business news organization, is acquired from media group G/O Media;
  • TechNode Global, a pan-Asian tech media and community startup platform, closed a US$1 million seed round led by Kairous Capital, with participation from Nutty Capital and SPH Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Singapore Press Holdings;
  • Robin Hood acquired MarketSnacks, media company that aimed to make financial news digestible and has since rebranded to Robinhood Snacks
  • Cain Communications, a media company, has acquired Green Market Report, a digital media brand that covers financial news about the fast-growing cannabis industry;
  • German publisher Axel Springer completed the $1 billion acquisition of Politico, one of the world’s most influential sources of political news; and
  • Blackstone, an American alternative investment company, purchased media and data company International Data Group (IDG) for an enterprise value of US$1.3 billion
  • (July Update): Grvty Media (Owner of acquired from Towerhill in Singapore by Kiat Lim

2019 Tech Media Funding Overview

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Fintech and Finance Firms Snap Up Media Companies to Gain Audience

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