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Village Voice Media, the large media company that includes 14 alternative weeklies, is rebranding its national network, which represents 50 alt weekly titles, as the name shifts from Ruxton Media to Voice Media Group. As part of the rebranding, it is also refocusing national advertisers on its cross-media appeal, which delivers entertainment-centric young urbanites via its print properties, 100 online destination sites and verticals, e-mail and text messages. It also provides advertisers with local reps that can appear at fairs, special events, etc.

Village Voice Media COO and President Scott Tobias, who is appearing on the local/social networks panel at ILM:09, says cross-media efforts are more essential than ever. “National Web efforts have been decimated by the digital networks,” he says. That makes it hard to leverage the strong demographic appeal that targeted media sites still do better than anyone else.

Media buys have also become out of whack, with print’s value sometimes underestimated. While Voice Media Group is doing well with its Web properties, and expects they’ll get stronger and stronger, the print numbers continue to be “very strong,” says Tobias. In fact, print is responsible for 70 percent of spending in the network, with the various online components representing 30 percent.

Beyond print and online, a third leg of Voice Media Group is “Voice Street.” Essentially, Voice Media Group leverages its local presence in its markets, rounding up local college students and others to work fairs and other local events on behalf of national advertisers. The events are also heavily publicized online. Voice Media Group’s street network is being used by many local events, among them The Big Pour Beerfest in Phoenix, Artopia in Houston, and next year’s South by Southwest in Austin.

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