I like Vice

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

By Adam Kleinberg

The Wall Street Journal reported today that "Ad Buyers Sure Love Vice, But Are Torn About its Valuation."

And I am the "ad buyer" they were talking about. I was asked for an opinion on what I thought of their billion-dollar-plus valuation and potential acquisition by Time Warner and I have to say, I was pretty enthusiastic about Vice as a content brand.

Here's the entire email I sent to the reporter. You can read the story in the WSJ to see which parts he quoted me on.

I think Vice is the most exciting content brand on the planet. A brand like Buzzfeed, that is known for cat videos, can produce amazing, intelligent, provocative long-form content, but their brand still stands for cat videos. Vice on the other hand is the brand—and you have to think of it as a brand, not a publication—that stands for amazing, intelligent, provocative long-form content. There is no hotter content brand out there. $1.4 billion sounds like a lot when you use traditional measures, but Vice is a brand designed for the Digital Age. Some may question that valuation: Vice charges a substantial premium for the cool factor they bring, but the majority of advertisers won't advertise on Vice because of the risk of being next to controversial content. That's a traditional way of doing math. But Vice is an innovator and innovators get to use future math. Is Nest worth $3.2 billion? Is WhatsApp worth $18B? Not to me. But to someone who can monetize it, why not? Today Vice has a show on HBO. Tomorrow, Vice could be HBO. It's not far-fetched.

In a follow-up, Mike asked me to clarify that I thought a lot of brands wouldn't touch Vice. My answer:

A lot of brands won't touch it. Clorox isn't going to run on Vice. McDonald's isn't going to run on Vice. If you're at all conservative, you're probably not going to want your brand adjacent to a picture like this (grabbed it from their site )...
Controversial image
About the author
Adam Kleinberg

Adam Kleinberg is CEO and and a founding partner of Traction. He has written over 75 articles in publications like AdAge, Adweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Mashable and Digiday.

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