Two years is a long time for online publisher Vox Media. In that span, the owner of seven editorial sites – including The Verge, SB Nation, Eater and Polygon – went from eschewing programmatic to embracing it.
Vox’s strategy changed because its sites grew, explained Joe Purzycki, Vox Media’s VP of advertising.
Vox totaled 20 million monthly uniques two years ago. Today it has 150 million global uniques, and has added four additional sites.
The demographics of Vox shifted with that growth. The target audience used to be 18- to 34-year-old males. Now, the gender split is narrowing, although the brand still indexes unusually high in education and household income. That broader audience created the need for Vox to start using a data-management platform and sell advertising based on its first-party data.
Purzycki talked to AdExchanger about the changes Vox has undergone in its monetization strategy over the past couple of years and what’s ahead.
AdExchanger: Why has Vox embraced programmatic, when two years ago it was so firmly in the direct sales camp?
JOE PURZYCKI: At that time, we had just introduced [gaming site] Polygon, and were still focused on that male 18-34 audience. We had a smaller audience, and our direct sales efforts were driving our business.
Today, given size of audience and amount of inventory, programmatic is a growing piece of our strategy. We still rely heavily on direct sales, which is where the majority of revenue is coming from.
We pair our direct efforts with our programmatic efforts. That can be through private exchanges, if that’s what our clients want to do. Or, if our direct team is selling larger sponsorships or branded content series, with those larger formats that aren’t available through programmatic yet, we work with clients to do both that and buy fluid media through programmatic channels to support their direct sales buy. (more…)