CEO Jim Bankoff Says Vox Media Is Profitable on Facebook, Other Social Platforms

Vox Is Profitable on Facebook, CEO
Janko Roettgers / Variety

Vox Media is seeing some return from its investment into video on Facebook and similar platforms, revealed Vox CEO Jim Bankoff during Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit in Los Angeles Thursday. “Right now, we are profitable on these platforms,” he said, but also admitted: “We are not CBS-profitable.”

Making Facebook work as a business is “hard as heck,” he admitted — but Vox is committed to keep investing in its presence on the platform. “We are interested in making Facebook a business,” he said.

Bankoff made these remarks during a panel about the future of the content business, where he was joined by CBS Interactive CEO Jim Lanzone, Nylon president and CEO Jamie Elden, Awesomeness CEO Jordan Levin, Shazam CEO Rich Riley and Skydance Media president and COO Jesse Sisgold.

Lanzone said that CBS is also making money on Facebook and YouTube, where the broadcaster clocks over a billion streams a month each. However, Lanzone downplayed Facebook’s importance for CBS’s business, and instead pointed to the broadcaster’s investment in its own streaming service. “For us, the most important new distribution channel is OTT,” he said.

Elden agreed, and said that Nylon isn’t actually looking to Facebook and other social platforms as a way to make money. “For us, OTT is very exciting. Facebook is a driver for us. Twitter is a driver for us,” he said. “The monetization isn’t there.”

Awesomeness CEO Jordan Levin made the case that many media brands have a quality problem as they jump onto the Facebook video or even the YouTube bandwagon. “Video can get so easily commoditized,” he said. “The challenge is quality over quantity.” A key to success on platforms like Facebook or YouTube was to develop an audience there and then cater to their needs, he said.

Bankoff agreed that a quality was key to succeeding with video. “You need reporting, you need research, you need people who can write in order to do good video,” he said. “The platforms will reject crap because their audiences reject crap.”