Niall McGarry is the entrepreneur behind Maximum Media, a digital media group that owns an empire of popular websites including Joe.ie, her.ie, herfamily.ie, sportsjoe.ie and joe.co.uk. Sporting a David Beckham esque goatee and a glowing tan, its safe to say the Mayo man does enjoy the odd selfie. McGarry has a net worth of €4 million and is married to Sarah Hennessy, looks like he isn’t doing too bad for himself. (Learn how to start a blog and start your own clickbait website, the barriers to entry are so low and the Irish market is so untapped!)
He founded Impact Media in 2003, a year after graduating with a degree in marketing management from LIT. Impact Media was a marketing agency company based in Galway that helped Irish businesses create advertising campaigns. They built up an impressive list of clients such as Supermacs, Radisson Hotels & Eircom and at its peak employed 20 people. McGarry sold the company in 2011 to H+A Marketing & PR to focus his attention on growing JOE.ie.
Fun fact, former Irish rugby player, Jerry Flannery is a listed as a director of Maximum Media, owning 18% of the company. No idea of his role at the company but he owns a nice chunk.
McGarry started JOE.ie in 2010 after spotting a gap in the marketplace, he felt there wasn’t any websites in Ireland that catered effectively to young Irish men. JOE.ie came along just at the right time as the social media revolution kicked off and the rapid decline of traditional media ensued. The first 18 months were tough as the company battled to win over advertising agencies and develop content to engage users. JOE.ie makes money through selling advertising in the form of branded content such as articles, videos and running competitions. JOE.ie’s strategy is pumping out thousands of clickbait articles with very thin content that will attract visitors. E.g. You won’t believe what this woman from Tipperary found in her toaster.
The more traffic they can generate to their websites the more advertising they can sell to companies. This strategy has served them well, generating millions of page views per month, making a net profit of €1.8 million in 2017. 90% of the content published is poor quality, three sentences and an embedded tweet is not the type of content people want to read. At one point, every second article was about Conor McGregor’s fight against Mayweather. The site has also become infamous for stealing content and at times not crediting the original source. A lot of the content isn’t unique and taken from websites like Reddit and competitors. Apart from the GAAHour podcast, I don’t consume any of their other “content”.
Due to the success of JOE.ie, McGarry launched Her.ie in July 2012, using the exact same strategy to grow the website. Her.ie experienced phenomenal success targeting the young female demographic. Women interact with brands more than guys, so the potential to make revenue through sponsored content is colossal. Media agencies are spending a fortune to advertise to their visitors and surprisingly their website keeps generating impressive hits. JOE.ie isn’t the only Irish website guilty of low quality lazy journalism. Irish websites such as breakingnews.ie, thejournal.ie, buzz.ie, theliberal.ie and Evok.ie are equally dreadful. They’re all targeting the same audience, fighting over advertising revenue. Whoever can pump out articles quickly on the latest stories with a catchy headline wins. God forbid if these websites actually hired journalists to write quality long form content instead of paying freelancers or interns €10 an article.
McGarry was recently interviewed on the Late Late Show by the intolerable, Ryan Tubridy. He came across as a confident and likeable guy but got heavily criticized on Twitter by some viewers. It’s sad how Irish people love to criticize others doing things with their life. While I’m not exactly a big fan of JOE.ie, he does employ over 100 people in Ireland and probably will employ another 100 within the next four years.
They expanded in the UK, opening an office in London and Manchester, where competition is really tough, there are thousands of dreadful websites competing for views. It will be interesting to see how the family of JOE websites perform in the upcoming years and if they’ll be able to stay ahead of competition.