Posted by: bburk2014 | November 23, 2014

Guest Speaker Video: Vox Media’s Trei Brundrett, 11/6/14

Joining us the other night via Skype was Trei Brundrett, Chief Product Officer at Vox Media. Vox is an amalgamation of hundreds of blogs organized around seven themes: news, architecture, food, sports, gaming, style and technology. These sites function like news aggregators such as The Huffington Post, serving as a clearinghouse for articles written by paid and unpaid contributors as well as an advertising platform for brands.

Brundrett, who lives in the Washington, D.C. area, explained how Vox rose from humble beginnings as a single blog about the Oakland A’s to a vast network of hundreds of blogs. It achieved its success by exploiting fans’ desire for a more equal exchange of ideas around their love for a particular team, rather than the “top-down”, hodgepodge of general sports information they could get from sports media behemoths such as ESPN.

“We’re as much a technology company as we are a media company,” said Brundrett, describing the Vox ethos. “We’re just beginning to explore what it means to tell stories together, and not at each other.” In other words, amateur bloggers contribute to Vox sites alongside professional writers.

As previous speakers have pointed out, Brundrett named mobile technology as the driver behind change and growth in the media landscape. Rather than simply re-packaging existing content to fit various platforms, unique stories will have to be generated that properly fit individual platforms, he said.

Brundrett then turned to a discussion of funding models for Vox and other media companies. Hinting at the controversy surrounding what’s known as “native” advertising, Brundrett stated that the historically sacred line between editorial and advertising among media outlets may have to blur in order for those companies to stay viable. Without reliable revenue streams, “how do we sustain media and the stories we want to tell?” he asked rhetorically.

Despite the ever-present challenges posed by the economic realities of digital media and high audience expectations, Brundrett remained optimistic about the road ahead. “I’m super-excited about it,” he said.

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