The Internet is an unparalleled medium for content to make an impact. People want quality content, and the rise of big tech firms are the consequence of users surfing the Internet yearning for progressively more curated information. Everywhere you look, there is written, video, photographic, design, e-commerce, and more material available at your fingertips.
With that meteoric rise in digital content has also come a downgraded quality of content, however. Many audiences are turned off by overt brand marketing material, which has become the norm within many catch-all campaigns linking brand content to social media.
For Kenny Kline and Joe Auer, the opportunity to tackle an area that is often ignored entirely was beckoning them to launch their own business, and so, they founded Jakk Media. Today, with a team of 30 employees, two locations, and seven-figure annual revenues, Jakk Media represents a refreshing take on brand marketing — all-encompassing, quality content for niche audiences.
Auer and Kline met at Columbia Business School, and during their final semester in school in 2014, decided to launch Jakk Media on a peculiar business model. Drawing from a blend of early investor uncertainty about their business type and a desire to be their own bosses, Auer and Kline decided the optimal route was to bootstrap their business with their own funds.
“Initially, it was just Joe and I, for actually two years, doing everything — video, editing, writing, site creation, outreach, you name it,” says Kline. “Those years were tough, but exhilarating as well, because we really believed in what we were making, and we both really enjoy refining our craft.”
Those early days would set the stage for a brand marketing firm that runs contrary to most models shaped by high-profile agencies in the industry. Often, looking in the dark where others are not looking is where you can capture the most value, and Jakk Media discovered vast audiences with a plan targeting niche audiences across brands and markets.
The results speak for themselves, with more than 3 million visitors across their four independently operated sites, Jakk Media has carved out a profitable corner in an otherwise saturated market of brand marketing.
Niche Content & Soup-to-Nuts Content
Jakk Media is what their team refers to as a “soup-to-nuts” company — one where the firm owns and operates all of its web properties, managing everything from content creation to digital marketing, video production, and design.
The goal? Reach curious audiences in niche markets like mattresses or home security systems where engaging and informative content is at the viewer’s disposal.
“We like to think the quality of our content distinguishes us in each of our niches,” says Kline. “When it comes to reviewing and recommending products, we are actually one of the few in each of our spaces that actually personally tests our products!”
For example, Jakk Media’s first site, MattressClarity.com, is a review-oriented resource site for potential mattress buyers to find their optimal sleeping arrangement supplies. Reviews cover all kinds of brands, from house-name behemoths like Tempur-Pedic to more obscure, boutique mattresses. The website even offers variable information regarding side sleepers, couples, or stomach sleepers, with products actually tested by the Jakk Media team and verified by experts — such as Doctor’s of Physical Therapy (DPT).
Jakk Media also manages another sleep-oriented website, Sleepopolis, focused on reviewing the biggest brands in sleep tech and products.
“We spend a lot of time testing, writing about, and putting our products on video to help consumers make choices,” says Kline. “As a result, we have a funny looking office that includes many stacks of mattresses, a full wall of every supplement you can imagine, and hundreds of security devices! I love seeing people’s confusion when they first step into our office.”
The wall of supplements and security devices that Kline is referring to are a byproduct of Jakk Media’s other sites. Besides Mattress Clarity and Sleepopolis, Jakk Media’s team operates Security Baron, an automated home security resources site, and BarBend — a strength, training, and nutritional review/news sites.
Those sites round out Jakk Media’s suite of four currently owned and operated web domains, all of which target unique audiences that are in the market to purchase something. Interestingly audiences in such niche markets are much more inclined to purchase products because they went their explicitly with the intent of filling a need.
People don’t typically go online and read reviews or informative blog articles on mattresses or home security systems without bearing the intent of buying something. This runs contrary to many large-scale brand marketing campaigns today that rely on consumers shelling out cash for products that they don’t need, such as $300 Supreme hoodies, but are, nonetheless, ubiquitously advertised online.
Jakk Media’s ability to leverage the disconnect between large-scale brand advertising and niche targeting has enabled the company to flourish, and in the process, cultivate the type of modern work environment that younger generations seek out. The firm has offices in New York City and Austin, encompassing video editors, writers, designers, marketing specialists, and more — running the four sites controlled by the firm.
“We love having two offices because it allows us to pull from two great creative talent pools,” says Kline. “The two offices function very differently, but everyone across both offices has a lot of overlap in terms of the work they do and who they interact with. People we work with love to visit our offices and connect with our team as well, so having two offices only makes that easier.”
As for the continued success of Jakk Media, the team is looking at building and adding another exclusive site to their current suite, although they admit it is a long process due to the time and effort dedicated to each site.
“We invest so much when creating a new site, that we now roll them out very slowly,” says Kline. “We’ve launched only one new site a year in the last 2 years, and will not launch more than 1 a year going forward.”
The tempered approach has proven successful for Jakk Media, a brand marketing company aiming at the finer details while most of the crowded brand advertising field seeks to harness broader strokes. “We believe that the more targeted the audience, the better than you can serve and delight them,” details Kline.
With so much content at users’ disposal on the modern Internet, carving out a niche angle with a top-down business model seems counterintuitive, but is an obscure corner of the Internet where value is waiting to be captured.