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.
VVS Laxman’s retirement came all of a sudden in 2012ReutersAmidst all the debate that took place around the absence of Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant from the Indian ICC 2019 World Cup squad, what stood out most was Rayudu’s tweet. But even more interesting was the retweet by another out-of-favour Indian cricketer – Pragyan Ojha.The left-arm spinner last represented India in Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series against West Indies in late-2013. Interestingly, he was the man-of-the-match in his last Test. Ojha retweeted the comments of Rayudu and added his own views to it.Now, Ojha didn’t reveal who are those ‘Hyderabadi cricketers’ that have been in ‘similar situations.’ But does he have a point when he suggests that cricketers belonging to this proud city have had a raw deal?If we look at the most prominent cricketers from Hyderabad, one can find grievances that all of them can have. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is any systematic bias against these cricketers. However, let’s first look at these prominent names and their possible complaints.Mohammad AzharuddinIt is very difficult to have sympathy for this legendary batsman from Hyderabad. After all, many would say it were his own actions that led to his career ending in disgrace. While the courts may have acquitted him and there are not any official sanctions against the former India captain, he still carries the taint of match-fixing. However, he can carry the grouse of not being allowed to play his 100th Test and being forced to end his career with 99. Of course, that is a partisan view.VVS LaxmanOne of the most aesthetically pleasing players in the world and a true match-winner, Laxman’s exit from the team was very, very surprising (pun intended). In 2012, he was picked in the Indian Test side to face New Zealand in a two-match home series. But all of a sudden, VVS announced his retirement. Speculation was rife that he had been told by the selectors that this would be his last series and he responded by ending his career himself. How much truth there was in these rumours, we don’t know. But it has to be said that Laxman’s form had declined substantially in the last year of his career and his place in the team was under doubt. But for hard-core fans of the batting wizard, that won’t be any consolation. Pragyan Ojha (L) put out a tweet suggesting Hyderabadi players getting a raw dealBCCIPragyan OjhaNow we come to the main aggrieved party. Does Ojha have reason to feel hurt by the selectors? He certainly does. The Orissa-born cricketer had become a regular member of the Indian Test team by late 2010 and was acting as a deputy to Harbhajan Singh. But for some reason, Indian selectors convinced themselves that he cannot do well on non-Asian pitches. Every time India needed a second spinner outside the sub-continent, they went to Amit Mishra – be it the South Africa tour of 2010-11 or England tour of 2011.Ojha, in order to prove his worth on non-friendly pitches, played a season of county cricket for Surrey in 2011. Even the former India captain Sourav Ganguly was impressed with his performances in English conditions. But the selectors kept ignoring him and when they decided to replace Ashwin during the South Africa tour of 2013, they went to Ravindra Jadeja and not Ojha.But even before that, the left-arm spinner was getting a raw deal from his team. After emerging as India’s best bowler in the four-Test series against England in 2012, he was dropped for the first two matches of the next series – vs Australia. Imagine the highest run-scorer from a series getting dropped for the first half of the next series. It seems impossible but this is exactly what Ojha faced.His problem got compounded when the ICC decided to crack down upon suspicious bowling actions and he too had to undergo remodelling. But since then, Ojha has made a comeback but without the selectors giving him another opportunity. So, one can understand why he feels aggrieved. Among all the Hyderabadi cricketers, it’s this one who has been treated most unfairly by the selectors and team management.