How do you build a modern media company in an age with infinite supply and relatively finite demand? Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media, believes that showing up differently in media requires a relentless focus on creating quality experiences that don’t cut corners and keeps audiences wanting more.
One way Vox achieves this is by investing in digitally savvy, authoritative voices in what Bankoff sees as broad consumer verticals. This is the talent formula for every one of Vox’s brands, which includes The Verge, SB Nation, Polygon, Eater, Racked and Curbed. The addition last month of political columnist Ezra Klein to the Vox roster is indicative of this same approach. Klein is spearheading the development of a new political site that will launch later this year.
Talent alone, however, isn’t enough to stand out in highly competitive media markets like technology, sports and politics. That’s why from day one Bankoff decided to arm his team with technology that enables the company to show up differently. Vox’s proprietary “stack,” called Chorus, is a suite of in-house developed systems that run everything from social interactivity and content distribution to brand management and metrics.
This flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Many publishers today outsource critical portions of their infrastructure to third parties. They offload content management systems, analytics and more in order to cut costs.
Bankoff believes that to succeed in the digital age you must control the end-to-end experience and the technology behind it.
Now Vox is turning this technology into a different competitive advantage by letting brand advertisers tap into it. “Brands are looking to accomplish a lot of the same things as publishers,” said Bankoff. “They have to use the same tools/techniques that any other storyteller uses.”
What Vox has been able to achieve in its short history with its potent mix of talent and technology is remarkable. The Verge and SB Nation have disrupted the crowded technology and sports verticals. And the company is poised to potentially do the same in politics with Klein now on board.
While it’s unlikely that other large sectors of the economy like automotive, industrial or services companies will insource their technology anytime soon, one does wonder if Bankoff’s approach is worth considering for companies that hope to show up differently by creating great experiences.