Salacious news, Hollywood gossip, and high-impact scandal: Gawker, a now-defunct blog with a reputation that would make Taylor Swift blush, wasn’t necessarily known for doing good.
But DreamHost customer Kevin Lee and his digital marketing agency hope to change its rep with a purchase of Gawker Media’s asset this week. The goal: turn a media bad boy into a site with a soul.
Appropriately, he’s dubbed it Gawker for Good.
Lee is the executive chairman and founder of Didit, a full-service digital media agency which boasts clients like Foot Locker and Stamps.com. When he learned about the auction taking place for Gawker’s assets, he decided to make a bid with his company, mostly on a whim. Now he’s the auction’s “stalking horse bidder.”
“I’ve been active on all sides of the digital marketing ecosystem,” he says. “Last September, I came up with this idea that when people consume content, half of their ad revenue from consuming that content could go to their favorite non-profit cause. I had this inkling that a lot of the folks who were covered by Gawker in the tech community may like this as the next chapter for Gawker, better than whatever some other buyer might want.”
Content for a Cause: How Does It Work?
Lee’s vision for the site is a true 180-degree reversal from the site’s previously notorious operation: swapping the salacious for the altruistic.
What Didit’s undertaking offers is really the first publishing model of its kind, operating from a technology invention standpoint: a “Cause Marketing Powered Publishing Platform,” which targets philanthropically-minded celebs (the Hollywood music and film crowds as well as sports stars) as co-creators of site content.
This “donated” content then earns ad revenue — 25 percent of which is given to the celebrities’ — or the reader’s — chosen charities. By leveraging social followings and engagement from the celebs, nonprofits, and readers, Lee expects audience readership to grow organically without burdensome content-creation costs.
“This will be a cool way for celebrities to tell their fans to do something that doesn’t require them to give money,” Lee says. “They could send them over to the content that was created. It wouldn’t be a material number from just one content consumption visit, but over time, with more and more fans engaging with it, it would really become material.”
Lee has also been pioneering a new fundraising method, a cryptocurrency crowdfund. To create his bid reserve, he has appealed to those early cryptocurrency adopters who are sitting on extra bitcoin and interested in sharing their wealth for a good cause.
Consumption for a cause — it’s especially novel when considering the number of hours people already spend shopping online, scrolling social media, or perusing the latest virtual gossip rags (in the US, it’s reached 12 hours a day!)
“We’ll leave it to the other celebrity publications to cover the DUIs, the cheating spouses, and who’s in rehab,” Lee says. “That stuff is gonna get covered, but the idea that is that this site is used for charitable purposes. This could be a very similar type of content to what’s being covered in People magazine or on Entertainment Tonight, but it wouldn’t be the negative stuff. It would be hopefully something exclusive that a star would be willing to share.”
Gawker for Good, as Lee sees it, allows people to consume engaging content without the guilt. Sounds ideal, right? Plus, goodness-focused content offers a respite from polarizing political news or discouraging current events.
“We convert news into good news, just because of the nature of the goodness that comes out of it,” Lee says.
So What’s DreamHost’s Role In All of This?
Lee has operated within the digital sphere for 24 years, 13 of which he’s shared with DreamHost. It’s the brand’s value that keeps him loyal.
“The level of service is high, and what you get for your buck is good. A combination of high service and bang for the buck is a win-win,” he says.
Now, Lee is utilizing DreamPress, an upgrade from his previous shared hosting plan, to gear up for the possibility of increased spotlight and media attention on his site as the auction nears.
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And Gawker Goes To . . .
Thursday at 10 a.m. the gavel sounds. But regardless of the auction’s outcome, Lee plans to move forward optimistically.
If they win Gawker? Awesome. They’ll give themselves a month or two to get their plans in order and hit the ground running with editorial and ad teams.
If not, Lee and Didit will pivot their cause marketing plans to their synopsizing news platform Briefme. “It will have been an experiment in any case,” Lee says. “It might not work, but we’re giving it a try.”