Digital media industry taps a new trend. Nowadays popular publishers are staking on local teams to adapt their content for the foreign markets. Refinery29 demonstrates this model through it’s expansion in european countries.

Justin Stefano, Philippe von Borries, Piera Gelardi, and Christene Barberich co-founded Refinery29 in 2005 in New York. Since then the company has opened two more branches in London and Berlin. Also during this time Refinery29 has grown to draw one billion pageviews per year. It has called the attention of not only American, but also European women.


Europe Expansion. Refinery29

How many staff members are needed

According to the website, Refinery29 is leading on the digital-media market aimed on women. Its audience is 27 million monthly unique visitors on the American version and a global reach of 225 million across all the platforms. It is remarkable that only three teams run such a large scale of activity and create all the content: the American one, 11-person editorial team in London and 6-person one in Berlin. Also, there are local sales and marketing departments in each of them. To manage the international expansion, Refinery29 has appointed Kate Ward as vice president of international. Now she is planning to extend the company’s activity to France.

Re-righting is a little lifehack for local teams

Creating special content for each country may be not as difficult, as it seems to be. For example, the Berlin team adapts 40% of all the materials for the German website from the American version. On the U.K. platform the situation is even simpler: British editors don’t need to translate U.S. articles and 50% of them come directly from the U.S.

However, sometimes the situation is opposite: some content comes from the local teams. For example, German article on what people were wearing while waiting to get into Berlin’s iconic and exclusive club Berghain, was adapted for the U.K. and the U.S. sites. Although, it contained some editorial tweaks. For example, the world “queue” was swapped out for “line.”

I call it the roommate-to-flatmate index” said Ward. “While you won’t necessarily need to change every word, there are key moments where we’re looking to make sure we drive strong local relevance. There are different tonal changes; the sense of purpose behind language is important.”

The sum should be greater than its parts

It is necessary to remember that all the local editions are the parts of one company. They have to be a complement of one another. Also, the whole scope should be greater than all the parts separated. Creating branded high-quality content is the main goal for a digital-media company. Refinery-29 never forgets about that.
After the Brexit vote, for example, Refinery29’s Berlin and London teams carried out a survey on what do people think about the intention of German officials to offer Brits dual citizenship. It got 10 times more comments then other Refinery29’s materials on the topic.


Europe Expansion. Refinery29


What are the perspectives?

For Refinary29 the near prospect is France. While deciding, what country would be next, they carefully examined all the market trends. As it is for Germany, the company is looking for a reliable basis for a future expansion beyond English-language content.The company quickly picks up international trends and tries to test them on different countries. For example, The Money Diaries (a monthly poll on how do millennials spend their money) has now appeared on the U.K. website. It is being in the top-five performing stories by pageviews in the Living category, according to Ward.

All in all, the main international trend that Refinery29 has already picked up, is staking on local teams of editors. Obviously, now it is working effectively in every country.

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