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How Refinery29 Built a $100 Million Media Company for Millennial Women

Consumers hate advertising, but only when it looks like advertising.

Amelia Krales for Re/code

Consumers hate "traditional advertising," according to Refinery29 co-CEO Philippe von Borries. At the same time, his company is on track to make more than $100 million — from advertising — this year.

How can these two truths coexist? Native advertising! On the latest episode of Re/code Media with Peter Kafka, von Borries explained how Refinery29 pioneered native ads, a.k.a. content you might actually want to read that has been commissioned by an advertiser, on the Web (disclosure: Re/code does it, too). Now 11 years old with 400 employees, the company specializes in sponsored content targeted at the millions of young women who might buy fashion and beauty products.

"Millennial women care passionately about brands," von Borries said. "They love them or they hate them, but they want to hear from them in an authentic fashion."

He noted that Refinery29’s website directly gets 25 million readers, but including followers on outside media platforms, the company says it reaches 150 million people. And it’s already making money from its Snapchat account, which is run by a team of ten people who work in "the Snapchat cave."

"It’s one of the platforms that we feel most passionately about," von Borries said. "Snapchat is about loyalty. It’s not just about indiscriminate scale."

Listen to or download the episode in the audio player above. And make sure to subscribe to Re/code Media with Peter Kafka on iTunes, which you can do right here. You can also find the show on Stitcher and TuneIn. We’ll have a new episode next Thursday.

Want more podcasts? Okay! Try Re/code Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, which you can subscribe to here. Or there’s Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara and Lauren Goode from The Verge, which will have a new episode tomorrow. Click here to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on iTunes.

Finally, don’t miss Re/code Replay, where we’ve posted audio from Peter’s Code/Media 2016 conference. To subscribe to that, click right here.

You can follow @Recode on Twitter for the latest on upcoming guests.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. You can also suggest guests for the show, and we’ll do our best to nab them for an interview.

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