Red Ventures, The Largest Digital Media Company You’ve Never Heard Of


Marketing financial products promises much higher profit margins than the online “affiliate” businesses that form the basis of websites like The New York Times’ Wirecutter. A publisher recommending a gadget on Amazon may earn a single-digit percentage of the shopper’s purchase, while “rewards” paid to Red Ventures for referring the consumer to a Chase Visa Sapphire Reserve credit card or American Express Rose Gold card may include: 300 to 900 dollar per card.

The arrival of Red Ventures executives did not always go well among journalists who found themselves working under Mr. Elias. Journalists, like members of a medieval guild (the guild hall is Twitter), tend to be more committed to the traditions of their profession than any corporate culture, and some turn their eyes to Red Ventures’ fireworks rah-rah retreats. and song. Even more disturbingly, some reporters at The Points Guy, who also covered the travel industry in general (this one has been an extensive source of information on his whereabouts). vaccinated Americans can travel), complained that the new owners were eroding the already thin wall between the site’s service journalism and the credit card sales that funded it.

JT Genter, who left the site more than a year ago, said Red Ventures is “all about profit maximisation.” He and other Points Guy writers said they’re not pressured to post stories they find questionable—indeed, the site occasionally offers carefully critical coverage of its dominant partners, Chase and American Express. But he noted that Points Guy journalists should attend regular business meetings detailing how much money the site makes from credit card sales, and some take it as an implicit recommendation.

Mr. Elias added that Red Ventures has an “indisputable line” on their site’s editorial independence, giving his cell number to CNET employees and instructing them to call him if they encounter pressure from the business world.

“I told them ‘there’s a red line,’ and they said, ‘OK, we’ll see,'” he said.

Red Ventures’ roots in marketing, its investment in technology aimed at selling you something, and its almost accidental move in trying to provide readers with reliable, even journalistic advice, created a strange mix. And the company’s Silicon Valley style only extends so far. Its employees do not get a stake in the company, and lunch is not free, only subsidized.

Still, the company offers a happy workplace, with inspiring slogans printed in cheerful fonts on the walls of its courtyard. The thing I heard executives talk about the most was “Everything in Pencil,” a slogan that has become the premier supplier of service journalism for a company that has changed almost entirely from its marketing roots. And his executives seem to have absorbed the notion that they sell trust, even if they don’t put it in the language of journalism professors.

“Brand and trust are at the heart of everything we do,” said Courtney Jeffus, head of the company’s financial services division, which includes Bankrate. “If you lose your brand interest, then you don’t have a job.”


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