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At Vice Media, Getting Paid for the ‘Cool’ Factor

Vice Media has built a billion-dollar company by declaring itself as the news source with a direct line to hip millennials. But the company’s remarkable success to date is based largely on convincing brand marketers to pay a big premium for the ineffable “cool” factor—a strategy that could prove hard to sustain in the long run.

Vice is among the handful of next-generation online publishers that have successfully positioned themselves as quasi-digital ad agencies, leveraging a corporate image to get advertisers to fund expensive content through co-branded efforts. The millions that Vice and rivals such as BuzzFeed and Vox Media command from advertisers has helped them avoid the inexorable downward trend in online ad rates.

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But Vice's ads remain more expensive. And ad agencies say brands’ willingness to pay more comes down to a simple factor: Vice is cooler. At least for now.

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Brit Morin, Jon Steinberg and 3 others commented on this article.
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The very specificity of Vice’s in-your-face style of content means that it could be particularly vulnerable to changing consumer sentiments.