Technology has been advancing rapidly, but your options for partners have been declining at the same time. As giant platforms emerge, how can families see key differences between you and competitors? There is much for an independent funeral home to consider.
Written by Sean Fagan, Owner of Outcompete Marketing
In 2018, a major shift began in our profession. Providence Equity, a $35 billion dollar private equity firm acquired Frazer Consultants, Frontrunner, and SRS Computing. Providence Equity also approached us earlier in 2018 but we declined to have a conversation with them.
Five years later, I am still happy with our decision to keep us independent.
Tribute Technology went on to acquire most of the rest of funeral home technology and marketing companies that service the funeral profession. In 2022 MKJ Marketing was acquired by Tribute Technology.
This article, from PE Hub (registration is required, but it is free) disclosed Providence Equity was selling all the funeral home technology brands, consolidated under the name Tribute Technology, to the Carlyle Group and Vista Equity for what is indicated as “north of $1 billion”. According to the article, Carlyle would be the majority owner of Tribute.
Carlyle Group is a massive $376 billion publicly traded investment fund with many critics.
Here are some of the companies that have been consolidated into Tribute Technology:
Being rolled up and owned by a publicly traded company does not mean any of these companies are bad. It does mean that things have changed. These formerly independent businesses now collaborate and share designs and technologies which greatly blurs differences that once made them unique. Many of them are now offering website customers an “upgrade” to a common technology platform they all share. This means more funeral home websites will look very similar and have the same features and obituary designs. This makes it much harder for families to see differences in what providers offer.
It also means you have fewer distinctive choices for a critically important part of your brand identity. This creates an opportunity to set your funeral home apart in your community with the right partner. Outcompete is that partner. Unlike other providers, we will not work for two firms in the same market if they are using our strategy. We also do not provide any services whatsoever to corporate consolidators. – Sean Fagan, Owner Outcompete Marketing
Pamplona, another private equity firm, acquired a majority stake in Legacy.com in 2017 and then took a majority stake in Tukios in 2020. They operate as separate businesses but often collaborate.
You can read an article from Funeralvision here
Written by Sean Fagan, Owner of Outcompete Marketing
You are probably unaware that there are three major players in traditional online newspaper obituaries. They are Legacy.com, Gannett, and Ad Perfect.
Everyone in the profession knows Legacy.com. They have historically been the premier provider of obituaries to newspaper platforms across the country.
You may not have heard, but Gannett and other newspaper publishers were bought by New Media Investment Group in 2019 for $1.4 billion. They are the largest newspaper publisher, measured by total daily circulation. In 2021 they built their own obituary platform and stopped using Legacy.com.
It was shortly after this that Legacy.com encouraged “syndication” of each funeral home’s obituaries on their platform began. In 2022, Gannett sent out this newsletter to promote their independent obituary platform and announced they would exhibit at the NFDA Convention in Baltimore. They have exhibited at many more conventions since then.
Never heard of them? They used to be partnered with Legacy.com, but not anymore. Ad Perfect was acquired by Tribute Technology in 2019. They are now a big player in the online newspaper obituary space and have replaced Legacy.com on several major newspaper websites. Tribute Technology’s floral platform supplies the options for flowers.
Many funeral home owners wonder how their obituaries end up on sites like Legacy.com, Echovita, Everloved, and others without their permission. Besides the fact that it can confuse families about which obituary they should click, it results in situations where funeral home owners have to waste their time and sustain damage to their reputations when there are either errors in the obituaries or low quality flowers are delivered to the funeral home from a junk florist associated with the obituary platform.
If you search for some of your decedents, you may find obituaries on sites you, nor the family ever authorized publication. Some of them have been sued, but it’s difficult because they have pivoted to a new strategy of not fully scraping and publishing, but scraping and publishing “obituary facts.” Some of them now feed the “facts” into AI obituary writers that make them an original publication. They can legally do it, despite how greasy and unethical it is. You can spot them right away as being worded differently or truncated.
Legacy.com has approached nearly every funeral home explaining the SEO benefits of having them syndicate their obituaries. There is some truth to some of the benefits, but my professional opinion is that your obituary content helps Legacy’s SEO more than yours. They no longer have the obituaries for Gannett Newspapers so they need to get content from somewhere. In some cases they scrape them. Here is an obituary Legacy.com scraped. It simply says the funeral home “announced” the death. Berge Pappas Smith Chapel of the Angels, one of our clients, in fact published an obituary on their own website.
Several owners with whom we have spoken were confused about the benefits of content syndication. This article from Search Engine Land explains the difference between increased exposure of content syndication can provide and clearly states at the end of the article that syndicating content does not increase the ranking of the original content in search results.
Legacy.com also built a huge directory of funeral home listings, city pages, and other listings. Because Legacy is a huge website with a ton of traffic, it does have some SEO value. That being said, there are some other considerations.
Legacy.com has been respectful of requests to stop scraping funeral home websites if you did not authorize your obituaries’ syndication on their site. The others scrapers never respond to any requests, in my experience.
Another way to ensure as many people as possible view obituaries on your website is to have a proactive plan to get them distributed to families and informants and to show them how to share. – Sean Fagan, Owner Outcompete Marketing
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. The content is based on the author’s understanding and interpretation of the subject matter as of the date of publication.