FrontGate Media is honored to be celebrating their 10th Anniversary serving the faith and family values audience. Since its inception, FrontGate has strived to connect values-based companies and products to concerned and engaged faith-based consumers. In this first decade, FrontGate can boast the title of achieving the status of #1 in reach to the culture-engaged audience in the faith and family market.
FrontGate Media History
Established in 2001 as the internet advertising division of the Adolph Agency, the firm was co-founded by Publisher Bruce Adolph and Scott A. Shuford, at that time the principal of FrontGate Creative, an award-winning full service agency that was a leading regional player in the competitive Southern California market. FrontGate Creative’s most notable client was Del Taco, the #2 fast food Mexican chain, for which FrontGate Creative served as the web agency of record for six years, an eternity in the agency world. A couple of years later, Adolph would personally leave the company to expand his publishing offerings with Worship Musician magazine and to create the Christian Musician Summits which remain part of the FrontGate Media group today.
FrontGate Media started with only three media vehicles: Christian Musician magazine, iTIckets.com, and the Women of Faith Conferences. Fast forward 10 years, and today the media group includes 25 outlets focused mainly on digital media (web sites, direct email) and live events, and still represents a few print publications. FrontGate Media is home to 15 million email subscribers, 25 million page views per month and over 600,000 event attendees annually.
“As a marketing director myself, I was frustrated as I tried to market my products through Christian media outlets to reach my target audiences. I ended up talking marketing to publishers. That didn’t work well. Most publishers are rightfully interested in their desire to publish content, and not particularly savvy about marketing. I thought, ‘what if I could bring great marketing value together under one roof, and then talk marketing with other marketing directors, and the company was born.” says Scott A. Shuford, founder and president of FrontGate Media. “To my knowledge, we are the only media group founded on the concept of marketing rather than publishing.”
To be in the FrontGate Media group, a media outlet must first pass a detailed review of standards established by Shuford and based on creating real value for marketers. A company has to either be a leader in what they do, or they must encapsulate an entirely new idea for marketers.
FrontGate Media at a glance
The media group reaches almost every sub-demographic in the Christian audience, and is also #1 in reach to key demographics within the Christian audience including:
· Christian Entertainment Fans (GMC, HearItFirst.com, NewReleaseTuesday.com)
· Faith & Family Conservatives (The Washington Times, Human Events, Red State)
· Worship Leaders & Musicians (WorshipTogether, ChristianGuitar.org, Worship Musician)
· Christian Event Attendees (Cornerstone Festival, Creation, Spirit West Coast, Biola Media Conference)
· Youth Leaders & Youth Groups (various internet and event options)
The firm’s newest additions in 2011 include the most respected, 28 year veteran event, Cornerstone Festival, the key alternative Christian music event in the world, and another new concept created by Shuford with Jimi Williams at WorshipTogether.com, part of EMI CMG, opening up this leading music publisher/label’s audience to outside advertisers for the first time, an extremely creative idea in the ongoing change that is the music industry.
Though Shuford is quick to state that FrontGate Media is not an ad agency, the company has expanded into a few complementary services including $.0.10 pay per click services, social media, public relations and apparel development. The firm does not provide creative services for advertising nor does it deliver the entire Christian market. According to Shuford, “We focus on delivering the best audience available through the strongest brands in the faith-based family market. We are a media group, not an ad agency. We don’t control people’s messages or charge a mark up for our services. We serve almost every major company and non-profit, and their ad agencies, as they seek to reach the Christian audience. We don’t deliver the whole pie, but we are often the biggest piece.”
Such was the case for the recent Top Box Office performer, SOUL SURFER. According to Krista Veteto, Marketing Manager & Media Buyer for Outreach Films on the faith-based media buy for SOUL SURFER, “FrontGate Media made an incredible contribution to our overall campaign for SOUL SURFER. The audiences they recommended were on target for what we needed to achieve and their out-of-the-box ideas exceeded my expectations. Their media channels and their targeted proposal helped us achieve outstanding results: opening as the #4 film for the weekend and the #1 per screen average for new releases. Working with them was smooth and enjoyable; they were more like an internal part of our team and less like an outside agency.”
What separates FrontGate Media from other companies
Marketing Directors and ad agencies appear to love the fact that they can pull in the FrontGate Media team to help brainstorm ideas for their campaigns, for free. “We know our media outlets better than anyone. We make our experience available at no cost because it’s what is fun for us in serving our clients. We can do just about anything we can dream up, and often go outside the confines of a rate card,” states Shuford.
The firm has been able to react very quickly to changing advertising/marketing trends. For example, FrontGate Media easily shifted from print publications to digital media as the market shifted its focus. While all the major magazine publishers were trying to figure out how to hold back audience erosion in print, FrontGate Media was able to rapidly expand its digital media offerings. The firm was also the very first Christian media outlet to move into social media back in 2007, and remains today as perhaps the most experienced social media service in the Christian market. The company continues to grow and thrive based on change in the marketplace, not suffering in reaction to it.
Where FrontGate Media makes an impact.
With FrontGate Media, marketers are speaking to fellow marketers, not the stereotypical ad sales guy pitching ad specials or fixed options. With FrontGate, advertisers and sponsors never hear sales pitches that sound like “what do I need to do to get you into this media vehicle today?”
In March 2011, the firm shattered its previous record for ads and promotions, posting the best month in their ten year history. The firm also received the prestigious 2011 Best Website Award in the Internet Advertising Competition for the Faith-based category. The competition is hosted annual by the Web Marketing Association.
Extremely active in the marketplace, FrontGate Media is a proud supporter of the Gospel Music Association (GMA) and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), in fact FrontGateMedia.com is the official archive of all news from the ECPA. Shuford is also an active board member for the Biola Media Conference, the teen and young adult movement My Broken Palace, and the Christian Comic Arts Society. He is a frequent speaker on marketing for musicians at the NAMM Show and Christian Musician Summits. FrontGate Media also has a very active blog with commentary and tips advertising and marketing, digital media, and a bit of pop-culture.
Looking ahead, Shuford is excited about the opportunities for marketers presented by mobile and events, as well as whatever comes next. With their aggressive ability to respond quickly to the marketplace, FrontGate looks forward to continuing to innovate.
Follow Scott A. Shuford and the ongoing FrontGate Media developments at:
FrontGate Media (www.FrontGateMedia.com) is the largest culture-engaged media group & marketing service reaching the faith and family values audience which represents $4.6 billion worth of Christian products purchased by consumers annually according to a recent article in USA Today. The firm is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2011. The FrontGate Media group provides reach to more than 15 million email subscribers, 25 million monthly page views, and 600,000+ at annual events. The media group is #1 in reach to several consumer and leadership demographics in the faith and family values audience including entertainment fans, music fans, church musicians and worship leaders, youth leaders and youth group students, and political conservatives. The company plays a key role in the success of movie studios, non-profit organizations, publishers and authors, record labels and artists and more seeking “creative & emerging media” outlets.