“To move the needle for major marketers, you need both breadth and depth…”
by Max Willens (Digiday) – December 15, 2021
When venture capital dollars were flowing freely into digital media startups many years ago, audience scale was the north star.
Today, with venture capital long gone, private equity lurking and an industry-level pivot to privacy underway, scale is back en vogue as publishers continue to look for ways to keep advertisers’ attention and founders hunt for ways to provide exits for their original investors.
Consequently, media insiders see a lot to like in Monday night’s news that Vox Media will merge with Group Nine Media in an all-stock transaction. While the two companies reach different audiences using different strengths, observers say those skill-sets should be transferable, giving credence to Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer and Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff’s pitch that the former can teach the latter about social distribution and video, and the latter can help the former with formats including podcasting and long-form video licensing.
Though the timing of the deal, which is expected to close early next year, may mean that it could take a while to unlock the full potential of the combined companies, the merger also buys them time to figure out a satisfactory outcome for their backers.
“This is Bankoff and Lerer realizing that, to move the needle for major marketers, you need both breadth and depth,” said Matt Prohaska, the CEO of Prohaska Consulting. “It’s sort of a throwback to folks from the late ’90s…What’s different now is people are monetizing it, instead of just reporting phantom traffic.”