MediaTakeOut (MTO News) – Case Study

MediaTakeOut, or MTO News, is an urban celebrity news and gossip website that features breaking stories on African American culture. It is arguably the leader in African American celebrity news and has broken stories that have been shared by mainstream media giants such as CNN.

History of MediaTakeOut

After a career in corporate law, founder Fred Mwanguguhanga (mah-WON-gah-goo-HOON-gah) switched gears to the internet age and started an online laundry business. This taught the budding entrepreneur about the online advertising industry and laid the foundation for his next act. Once he sold the laundry business, Mwanguguhanga got into blogging about celebrity news and gossip; a few months after the website’s inception, MediaTakeOut.com blew up.

Today, MediaTakeOut ranks as one of the top 20,000 websites globally on Alexa and receives over a million page visits per month. It focuses on urban celebrity gossip by resharing news and features breaking stories from their sources and interviews. The site has been touted for breaking some of the biggest urban celebrity stories, such as the Chris Brown-Rihanna assault.

The Celebrity News Industry

The Celebrity News industry is an estimated $3 billion industry and is nested under the larger category of news and media . Historically, the print publications, such as People and US Magazine, dominated the industry’s market share. However, as the internet age evolved and self-publication through blogging grew, the industry shifted and gave rise to hyper-speed celebrity coverage. This ushered in a new generation of celebrity gossip that was online and focused on breaking stories in hyper-speed. Websites such as TMZ and Perez Hilton emerged as leaders by generating enormous web traffic, which translated into advertising dollars.

Customers and Competitors

MediaTakeOut focuses on a very different audience from traditional celebrity news websites, which draws a different set of competitors. The site caters specifically to African American celebrity news and does so in a way that is wholly different from traditional outlets. In an interview, Mwanguguhanga talks about how he wanted to give his audience the full picture of urban celebrities, which he identified as a gap in celebrity news. He drew on the fact that African American celebrities, like Beyonce and Jay Z, were featured in magazines like People, but that publishers never gave them the same depth of coverage as they would for, say Brittney Spears and Kevin Federline. This was the gap he wanted to fill.

Given Mwanguguhanga’s motives, MediaTakeOut competes in a category that focus on celebrity news for an urban audience. These competitors include rollingout.com, bossip.com, and thegrio.com as well as bigger urban media players such as BET.

MediaTakeOut’s Business Model

Like most media and news companies, MediaTakeOut generates revenue through advertisement. Its value proposition to its advertisers is a high-traffic, urban demographic readership that is uniquely engaged in the website’s content. Within the first few years of operation, Mwanguguhanga grew MediaTakeOut’s web traffic to a size that rivaled that of BET and other urban arms of billion-dollar companies. Large advertisers, who were initially skeptics, came quickly knocking when they saw the website’s traffic numbers.

For its readers, MediaTakeOut offers breaking news stories reported in a nuanced fashion that speaks to its audience. With the brand equity that it built from being the leader in delivering urban celebrity news, the website has a network of sources that has provided the scoop on some of the biggest stories in celebrity news. Readers who want to be in the know keep on top of MediaTakeOut’s latest stories.

MediaTakeOut’s Success Factors

MediaTakeOut’s success can be attributed to certain factors such as its focus on readership and its strong brand equity. When MediaTakeOut started, Mwanguguhanga took cue from technology companies, like Facebook and Twitter, and focused on building the readership instead of monetizing immediately. This allowed for the site to grow in a manner that catered to its audience. For example, the decision to focus on urban celebrity news was a data driven decision; as the website grew it became apparent that the urban demographic engaged with the content in a way that drove more web traffic. Mwanguguhanga recognized this and took the company in this direction. Within six months of operation, the site had become profitable.

By tailoring MediaTakeOut to its most engaged audience, the site was able to build its second success factor, strong brand equity. Being touted among other large websites like TMZ allows the site to command advertising rates as well as attract key sources for stories. Good sources for breaking stories are a key input for a site like MediaTakeOut as it drives readership. More readership and views equals advertising revenues.

MediaTakeOut – Looking Ahead

With the proliferation and evolution social media, such as Instagram Live and TikTok, users are consuming news in a very different way. Instead of navigating to dedicated websites to read up on the latest stories, users are receiving stories in their social media feeds. MediaTakeOut will need to adapt how and on what platforms they deliver breaking news to their audience to keep them engaged.

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