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Village Voice Media to Launch Niche Ad Network

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Village Voice Media, which publishes 15 alternative weekly newspapers across the U.S. (including the Village Voice in New York), is launching a niche online ad network comprised of local blogs and content sites—each of which mesh with the company’s demographics and indie sensibility. Under the brand Voice Local Network, the publisher has in the past few weeks begun selling advertising for a handful of popular New York blogs, including the foodie-aimed Eater.com, the real estate–centric Curbed.com and the shopping-focused Racked.com.

In addition, the network includes the vintage music hub Wolfgangsvault.com, the tattoo-enthusiast site checkoutmyink.com and LikeMe.net, which aims to help users find music, restaurants and entertainment options based on the recommendations of others. In some cases, the Voice Local Network will handle all ad sales for its partners, while in other cases the company will look to complement its partners own efforts. But the idea behind VLN is for the company to leverage its deep regional presence by bringing more local advertisers to these sites, while providing its own advertisers with more reach. “With this network, we can align ourselves with good quality sites with similar demographics by plugging in and becoming their sales force,” said Village Voice Media president Scott Tobias. “This allows us to extend our coverage into certain verticals and maintain high CPMs.”

Tobias estimated that 90 percent of Village Voice’s online sales are local in nature, and the company can claim relationships with over 12,000 advertisers, some of which go back 20 years.

“These partners have very good local content, and we have the boots on the street,” he added.

For LikeMe.net, the Voice deal represents the 18-month old company’s first foray into advertising. CEO Jeff Giarraputo said that given the site’s local entertainment focus, the Voice’s local selling clout was highly desirable.

“As a startup, we’re focused on our product and building our community,” he said. “These guys are experience in local advertising, and our business is going to rely on those local ad dollars. We didn’t just choose any ad network. For local businesses, every ad dollar counts to those guys, and the Voice truly understands that.”

Tobias said that the plan is to gradual expand the VLN over the coming months, focusing initially on adding more music and retail-oriented content partners. But he’s not looking to sign on thousands of sites. “Going forward, we’re going to be very selective,” he said.
“They’ve got to be a good fit demographically.”