Canadian Magazine Industry News
24 February 2012,     TORONTO
Vice Media founder talks about reaching youth
The question of how to market to young people was the focus of the inaugural Young Influencers Conference hosted by Marketing magazine at the Toronto Reference Library's Bram & Bluma Appel Salon on Feb. 23.

And if there's one person who should know the answer to that question, it was keynote speaker Shane Smith, chief executive officer and co-founder of Vice Media which has emerged from humble magazine beginnings in Montreal to a $1 billion valuation with offices in 34 countries.

Shane Smith at Young Influencers Conference
Shane Smith at Young Influencers Conference


To reach youth, it's all about video, said Smith. "Young people spend 80 percent of their time online watching video," he said.

With that in mind, Vice has created online channels including Noisey.com (a music channel), Motherboard.vice.com ("your friendly travel guide to future culture"), and thecreatorsproject.com — "technology and the brightest young minds in music, art, film, and design" — a partnership with Intel.

In fact, in a recent Marketing article entitled Vice Age, it's mentioned that Intel, which said it wasn't connecting with young people, plans to spend "tens of millions of dollars over many years" with Vice.

Aside from those verticals, Smith said Vice is a major news force, with 3,000 reporters on the ground around the globe. "We constantly come back with stories completely different than mainstream media," he said. "Vice News is from, and for, young people."

When marketing to the young and plugged-in, Smith suggests "no bullshitting. They've been marketed to since they were kids, they have bullshit detectors." He also said to keep sites clean and uncluttered.

When asked about print, Smith offered, "I'm a print guy, I love print. [But] a lot of magazines are going to die. [Vice] is growing because of online presence. The reason mags are going out of business is they're trying to sell ads. Unless you can sell a package in a 360-degree media environment (print, online, video, etc.) with many partners, you'll go the way of the dodo."

The Marketing article states Vice magazine now accounts for less than five per cent of Vice Media's revenue.
— Jeff Hayward
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