Are Paywalls Part of Vox Media’s Future Plans Post-Merger?

New York Media's paywall could expand to Vox Media properties

Illustration of man and woman meeting in the street with Vox Media and New York bags
New York Media and Vox Media plan to merge. Vox
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The new Vox Media (if the merger is approved) will combine New York Media brands and its own titles under one umbrella. But advertisers probably won’t be too surprised to see the two companies combining assets—New York Media has been part of Vox Media’s digital ad marketplace since May of last year.

The marketplace, called Concert, was founded by Vox Media and NBCUniversal in 2016. In a statement, Maggie Suniewick, President of NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, said the companies were taking “smart steps” to build a “modern media company.”

“A merger of two top-tier content producers such as this provides advertisers with an opportunity to hitch their brand to content of a caliber far higher than that which they could produce practically on their own,” said Kristina Tucker, managing partner at iFuel Interactive.

All of New York Media’s brands, including New York Magazine, The Cut (culture), Grub Street (food), The Intelligencer (politics), The Strategist (commerce) and Vulture (entertainment) will be included in the marketplace. “There’s not a marketer we can’t have an incredible partnership with,” said Ryan Pauley, Vox Media’s chief revenue officer.

Under the merged company, Vox Media chairman and CEO Jim Bankoff will remain in his role while Pam Wasserstein, currently CEO of New York Media, will become president of Vox Media and join its board of directors. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Vox Media’s brands, which include SB Nation (sports), The Verge (science), Polygon (gaming), Eater (food), Curbed (real estate), Recode (tech) and Vox (news), will operate independently of New York Media’s brands. There are no plans for editorial layoffs, Pauley said.

The ability for brands to work with both companies in developing campaigns for what used to be competing brands (like Eater and Grub Street) has the potential for better campaign reach, customer engagement and performance, said Laura Perritte, Centro’s vice president of client and media services.

“But the key part is the execution,” Perritte said. “How well the combined entity simplifies and automates the sales, activation and reporting of campaigns will determine how much ad spend they can take from the likes of similar entertainment and news media owners such as Verizon Media, Comcast and CondĂ© Nast.”

Vox Media will look to compete by further diversifying revenue streams and building on the avenues that each media company has already built and fostered, including in commerce and events. New York Media, which launched a paywall this year, will still require readers to subscribe. Vox Media will “continue to look for opportunities to broaden that,” Pauley said, and potentially apply them to its own properties. New York Media properties will, too, eventually operate on Vox Media’s publishing platform.

“We’re excited to be able to offer the combined assets to all of our partners, and the critical piece for us is bringing together the combination of editorial brands and the relationship with their audiences and their ability to activate their audiences in different ways,” Pauley said.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.