Jim Bankoff of Vox Media: Content Isn’t The Product

Since its founding in 2011, Vox Media has quickly become one of the leading digital media companies. With popular websites from the the likes of Eater and Curbed to The Verge and Vox, the company’s successful development of topical media content has allowed them to outpace more traditional publications on the Web competing in the similar markets. At last Wednesday’s Tech Cocktail DC Sessions event, chairman and CEO of Vox Media, Jim Bankoff, revealed that the secret to the company’s growth: despite being a media company, he doesn’t consider content to be their product.

“I’d say that content is part of the product,” said Bankoff. “The product is really the overall experience, though – which is inclusive of what’s written on a page, what film or video’s on a page, what advertising’s on the page, what interactions to do…You know, it’s an experience.”

According to Bankoff, content is just one aspect of the media game. The online media landscape has changed since his days at AOL, and the mere production of content – even really great content – is a bad strategy when you consider the constant changes taking place online. There are also stark differences between the consumption of online content versus in print content, so you have to adapt to those. “[At Vox Media], we create digital experiences.”

So, how does Vox Media do it? How does it continue to thrive in the hyper-competitive landscape of digital media? Storytelling.

“It starts with great storytelling. That storytelling has to be aided and assisted – from outstanding design to excellent user interactions [and] UX, to great writing, great photography, [and] great ways of finding an audience – whether that’s social or direct.”

While Bankoff attributes Vox Media’s successes on the creation of overall digital experiences, he admits that none of these accomplishments would be possible had the company not gone out of its way to create its own platform for its media channels.

“The notion was: let’s go after these topical points of passion for people. But in order to do that at scale, [we] needed a product platform…So, we developed one – it’s called ‘Chorus’. And Chorus really became the company’s primary asset. If you think of the great platforms of our time: Facebook, which is a platform for self-expression. Or Amazon, which is a platform for e-commerce. Or Nextflix, which is a platform for film entertainment. We aspire to be a platform for creating professional media brands at scale and also for brand advertising at scale.”

For Bankoff, it’s this overall platform approach that has led to Vox Media’s success; a tech-driven media approach apropos of our incessantly changing digital landscape.

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Written by:
Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.
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