Vox is the latest digital media company to embrace programmatic ads

Call it a trend or call it giving up: Vox Media–which owns sites like The Verge, Eater, SBNation, and others–will begin using programmatic ads on its ad platform Concert, reports Business Insider. This means the big custom advertisement units made on this platform can be automatically bought and sold using machines and algorithms, and will run on both Vox and NBC Universal sites. At first glance, this may seem like a small change, but the decision indicates a potential huge shift in how Vox Media approaches its ad sales.

This follows news from last month that BuzzFeed would begin embracing banner ads, which also use programmatic technology. While the rationale behind both BuzzFeed’s and Vox’s decision may seem obvious–they want to make more money–it’s also antithetical to some of business tenets they have historically followed. Specifically, as I wrote last month, programmatic ads are a pain for websites because they slow down load time. In the past, BuzzFeed eschewed this technology for quicker page speed and direct advertising as a way of distinguishing itself against competitors. Similarly, Vox Media has been known to focus more on custom marketing content (Vox sites, it should be noted, have been known to use programmatic ads).

But now they are now embracing slower pages as a way to keep the ad dollars flowing. Vox, in particular, is an interesting case. It is generally considered one of the more stable digital media companies out there–a company that embraced quality over insane scale as a way to woo ad dollars. Yet now it is having its proprietary platform turn to the automated ad-buying program beloved by content churners.

The next logical step, I guess, is pivoting to video.

[Updated to clarify that this update was specific to the Concert ad platform.]CGW