Tech

Vox Media has a new pitch for advertisers after buying New York Magazine and affiliated sites

Key Points
  • Vox Media's new platform called Forte is designed to help advertisers reach the publisher's expanding audience.
  • Forte reflects a changing regulatory environment that gives consumers more control over their data.
Jim Bankoff, Chairman and CEO of Vox Media
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Now that it owns New York Magazine and a host of related web properties, Vox Media is trying to sell advertisers on a new platform that can get them in front of more eyeballs amid rule changes on personal privacy.

Vox Media, which owns Recode, The Verge and sports site SB Nation, said in September it would be acquiring New York Magazine parent New York Media and now said it has 125 million monthly visitors across its 13 editorial networks. The acquisition also brought with it commerce site The Strategist.

Publishers have been grappling with what monetization will look like in a future where marketers can no longer use as much third-party data to target audiences. Capitalizing off their first-party about users visiting their news sites with a homegrown data platform might be one option.

Vox Media's new first-party data platform, Forte, intends to help advertisers drill into consumer interests and actions, and figure out which kind of ad creative would work best for that consumer mindset. For example, Forte might direct an advertiser to run a "buy it now" button for a product if a person is reading a review on a site like The Verge.

Vox Media is now rolling out Forte, which Chief Revenue Officer Ryan Pauley says reflects a new regulatory environment. Policy changes around browsers are giving consumers more information about the data collected on them, while in California, a privacy act taking effect next year also hands users more control over their data. Forte lets advertisers take advantage of Vox's expanding network and gives them a direct link to the company's audience instead of relying on third-party data.

In an interview, Pauley said Vox has "been building the capabilities" for Forte and now has "the additional scale, additional categories and the additional data signals from a commerce perspective," along with subscription data through the merger, that add to what Vox can do.

The name Forte is a music reference in line with the theme of other Vox products like Concert, its ad marketplace, and Chorus, the platform it licenses to publishers like the Chicago Sun-Times and Funny or Die.

Pauley said the changes with Forte will help advertisers tailor creative messages based on where consumers are viewing the content, so they can offer different ads for someone shopping on The Strategist than a person reading tech news on The Verge or impeachment coverage on the main Vox site.

Vox Media is the latest publisher to launch a first-party data play: Insider Inc. parent of Business Insider, earlier this year launched a way for marketers to target reader segments using "hundreds of millions" of reader IDs based on behaviors, interests and intents, Digiday reported in October, while others like News Corp are trying similar tactics. The success of these offerings will likely rest on the value of a publisher's audience to advertisers and the ability to target them effectively using publishers' first-party data.

Earlier this month, Vox announced that hundreds of freelance writers, primarily those covering sports for SB Nation, will lose their jobs in the coming months as the company prepares for a California law to go into effect that will force companies to reclassify contractors in the state as employees.

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Vox Media.

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Vox Media's Jim Bankoff on the acquisition of New York Magazine