A week from today, Jim Bankoff, chairman and CEO of Vox Media, will take the stage at FOLIO:’s premiere annual conference: The MediaNext Show. As keynote speaker and head of one of the largest and fastest growing independent online media companies, Bankoff will connect the magazine publishing industry’s traditional identity with the new realities of a fast-paced, multimedia landscape.Here, FOLIO: catches up with Bankoff [pictured] to explore the critical elements of running an online media company and where the new disrupters lie for the digital content market.FOLIO: Describe, in the context of Vox, the core, most critical elements of an online media company—from the way you produce your content to the way it’s promoted and consumed by your audience. Jim Bankoff: The core, critical elements of an online media company are giving audiences quality content and quality advertising that they can consume and enjoy in any setting and on any platform. We believe we’re doing that across the board at Vox. As I noted in LinkedIn, “Web consumers and advertisers crave a higher value journalism and storytelling, and it’s our challenge as publishers and creators to meet that demand.Vox believes fulfilling this demand for quality at scale is an enormous business opportunity. We publish three flagship brands all of which are committed to reinventing quality storytelling and journalism in a manner that is native to the Web. SB Nation (and its 300+ sports communities), The Verge and Polygon are producing magazine-caliber content in sports, tech/culture and gaming on an everyday basis, around the clock—merging old fashioned principles like integrity, design, research and creativity with the new palette of digital media: multimedia, mobility, community and real-time updates. We have even developed our own technology platform, Chorus, to empower the voices of Web-native storytellers and their audiences and advertisers with cutting-edge tools for their craft.”We’ve built on great editorial content with a great design and development team and have embraced responsive design so that consuming Vox is always a satisfying experience no matter what platform you’re on.FOLIO: What are the key revenue trends you’re seeing in the online publishing market? And how are you positioning your brands accordingly for the year ahead?Bankoff: The online advertising market is experiencing two opposing trends: commoditization of inventory sold to direct marketers via programmatic exchanges and native advertising/custom integration bought by premium brand advertisers. Our business is squarely in the latter camp with marketers seeking a customized experience that fits their brand and their message. We’ve been doing that at Vox Media for several years, starting with our first property SB Nation where we have featured sponsored editorial content since 2006. FOLIO: Tactically, how are you driving community interaction and engagement with your brands?Bankoff: Our brands have always had loyal and engaged readers. In 2012 alone, we saw readers consume 820MM+ minutes of our content. They’re interested in our writing and reporting, but also our video content and the places we allow them to interact with each other like our forums, comment section, social pages and areas for user-generated content. The key to our success is our underlying proprietary media stack, called Chorus, which enables our creative teams, our audiences and our advertisers to engage with one another in the context of professional and user generated story telling. By being a technology-driven media company, we can iterate quickly and respond to the ever-evolving needs of brands and consumers.FOLIO: What are the new “disrupters” for the digital content market? What is compelling you to re-examine your operation?Bankoff: The new disrupter for the digital content market is the idea that there’s no such thing as a single homepage anymore. The days when media experiences were linked via big portals and their email screens is gone. We discover great content via social recommendations, expert curators, search algorithms and a variety of other sources. Consumers are grabbing content from all over, and it’s crucial that publishers be everywhere. At Vox we have social feeds, partnerships with other media organizations and presences on apps like Flipboard. We want to be everywhere consumers are.The MediaNext Show will be held January 8-10 in New York City at the Marriott Marquis. For more information on the show and to register click here.
With less than a fortnight to go for the presentation of the Budget 2016, the divide between the two main Indian political parties â€“ the BJP and the Congress â€“ seems to be widening.While the BJP-led NDA government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under attack for its handling of JNU students over the Afzal Guru death anniversary issue, the Congress is keen to take on the government head-on, using macroeconomic data and the latest political development to good effect, just days before Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is set to present the budget on Feb.29.At a press conference last Friday in New Delhi, Abhishek Singhvi, spokesperson for the Congress, took on the Modi government on a range of issues, from the alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan to the JNU protests, besides the state of the economy.”Let us presume that Ishrat Jahan was a suspected terrorist. What is the course of action the BJP is proposing? That she should be liquidated in a false encounter? As a civilised country governed by law and order, should we not proceed by trying her in the court of law as Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru were tried? The BJP was advocating hanging them by the nearest lamp-post. How is India different from a banana republic if we too resort to such practices?” BusinessLine reported Singhvi as saying.Mocking the government for holding events such as “Make in India” without showing commensurate results on the ground, he said: “This clueless government has no idea on how to revive it (the economy) and they seem to move from one slogan and event to another without even attempting to address the real crisis at hand.”Singhvi also said that apart from the fact that 29 state-owned banks have written off Rs 1.14 lakh crore of bad debts during 2013-2015, the rupee, which was at 58.5 to a dollar when the BJP came to power, has dropped to 68.38, a fall of 17 percent. The NDA government is facing a grim situation, notwithstanding the description of Asia’s third largest economy as a “bright spot” by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.Retail inflation at a 17-month high in January, factory output (IIP) registering a second straight month of contraction in December, third quarter GDP growth rate coming at 7.3 percent, the lowest in the past three quarters, and merchandise exports registering decline for the 13th month in a row in December have emboldened the Congress â€“ which was reduced to its lowest tally in its history after the 2014 general elections â€“ to question the government’s performance on the economic front.Given the current political circumstances, Jaitley, who often says that “all political parties are with the government on economic legislations except the Congress,” may find it difficult to secure their support, given that they would find it politically expedient to go with the Congress.After all, the JD(U), the RJD and the Communists have found a common cause to take on the government and would not like to break ranks with the GOP (read the Congress) over the GST legislation, more so when crucial Assembly polls to five states â€“ Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry â€“ are round the corner. It would be politically naive to expect the Congress and the larger Opposition to support the NDA government at a time when it is politically weak.To use a stock market phrase, the Modi government is going through a bearish phase, much like the Sensex that posted its single biggest weekly fall in a year last week.The Budget Session needs to be seen in this context. The probability â€“ a high one at that â€“ of a united Opposition taking on the government over the JNU students’ issue and the Ishrat Jahan encounter case could mar the session. On the other hand, if the government is seen as unable to pass key economic legislations during the session, it would send the wrong signals to the marlets.
.Customs intelligence officials recovered eight iPhones and some cosmetics from five cabin crew members of Biman Bangladesh Airlines at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Tuesday, reports UNB.Based on secret information, a team of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) searched the bags of the five cabin crew – identified as Morzina Akhter Elin, Salma Sultana, Farzana Gazi, Moinuddin Adnan and Roman Sikder -soon after their flight arrived at the airport from Abu Dhabi.According to the baggage policy, a crew member could bring in up to $300 worth of goods, but these products were detained due to lack of proper buying documents.During preliminary interrogation, they revealed that they (cabin crew) were carrying the seized goods for one Tanim Raj, a local businessman, in exchange for money, said the director general of CIID Moinul Khan.Biman Bangladesh Airlines has been directed to take departmental action against the five crew members for breaching the rules to bring in the seized costly mobile phone sets and cosmetics, including perfumes, he said.
German chancellor Angela Merkel gestures at a news conference with NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg (not pictured) in the German Chancellery in Berlin, Germany on 15 June. Photo: ReutersGerman chancellor Angela Merkel, struggling to avert a crisis within her coalition on migrant policy, is trying to set up a meeting of some EU states to discuss the issue before a leaders summit on 28-29 June, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.Citing government sources from representatives of several EU states, top-selling Bild reported on its website that Merkel wanted to discuss possible solutions with Greece, Italy and Austria.“It is not yet agreed, we are in the planning phase. It is also unclear exactly when this special summit would take place,” a member of the Italian government told Bild. The paper added that next weekend might be one possibility.A German government spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on the report.EU states are deeply divided on how to deal with large numbers of people fleeing conflict, especially from the Middle East. The issue has come to a head in the last week with a new Italian government refusing to let a ship carrying hundreds of migrants dock at its ports.Merkel is adamant that migrant policy can only be effectively agreed and implemented at the European level and is at loggerheads with her own conservative Bavarian allies and her Interior Minister who want unilateral action.The Bavarians have threatened to defy Merkel and on Monday go ahead with plans which she has sought to block. Under the minister’s proposal, Germany would send back migrants who have already registered in other EU countries.This would undermine Merkel’s authority as it represents a reversal of her 2015 open-door approach, and would also be a blow to the EU’s Schengen open-border system.Merkel has asked the Bavarian conservatives to give her two weeks to come up with bilateral deals with some countries, like Italy and Greece, similar to one agreed between Turkey and the EU in 2016.Bild said it was unclear whether Spain and other countries from the Balkans would take part in Merkel’s meeting.