Inside Voxxi’s Closure: 6 Lessons to be Learned
Voxxi, the site catering to acculturated Latinos that launched in November 2011 backed by investor Dr. Salomon Melgen, has closed. The site was not able to get enough revenues and/or get a new round of financing. It is not being updated but current content is still being monetized via ad networks. The site’s closure offers interesting lesson for other English-language media targeting acculturated Hispanics, including Fusion. Portada talked to former Voxxi employees. 6 Lessons to be learned.
1. The Audience Was Defined, But it did not Come in Sufficient Amounts
Before its launch in 2011 Voxxi identified its target audience as second and third generation Hispanics between 25 and 49 years old. The assumption was that this audience does not find enough appealing content on mainstream media and needs a more Hispanic version of news, entertainment and other content areas etc. But what happened in practice? Voxxi.com did not obtain the necessary critical mass. In order to be a factor for advertising agencies you need to have at least 1 million unique users.
2. Bilingual and English-dominant Hispanics May not Need Exclusive Media
Former Voxxi employees tell Portada that they got the sense that Hispanics do not necessarily want to have different news sources but rather have the more Hispanic specific content integrated into the content of mainstream media outlets. As U.S. audiences in general get more and more multicultural and multiracial, mainstream media outlets like the The New York Times or Buzzfeed are increasingly catering to Multicultural Millennials. The boundaries between Hispanic targeted media and more general media get blurry. More importantly, for the survival of media properties like Voxxi, is that those boundaries also get blurry to the media buyers who may not see a need to advertise in exclusively Hispanic targeted media. In addition, audiences now consume different types of media sources and within that mix Social Media is crucial. Content like Voxxi's needs to be perfectly integrated into Social Media, otherwise it is not really easy to access.
In order to be a factor for Ad-Agencies you need to have at least 1 million unique users.
3. Go the "Jose Diaz Balart Way", Not the "Jorge Ramos Way"
Cuban American Journalist José Díaz-Balart hosts “The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart” on MSNBC, a weekday morning political/news talk show on MSNBC that airs live from 9 am to 11 am. The program integrates Hispanic and Multicultural themes into a much wider content program and audience. The impact of José Díaz-Balart is much bigger than what Jorge Ramos has done in Fusion, where he hosts the Fusion TV English-language program ,America with Jorge Ramos." While Fusion now understands itself mostly as a media property targeting Multicultural Millennials, it was originally conceived to primarily attract a younger audience of an English-speaking Hispanic and Latino American background. MSNBC's definition is much broader: American basic cable and satellite channel that provides news coverage and political opinion on current events. In other words, Díaz-Balart introduces the Hispanic vision to a mainstream audience.
4. Good Content is not Enough, You Need Tech
Another lesson, Voxxi's former employees tell Portada, is that "good content is not enough." The development of a customized technological platform to distribute and amplify content is crucial too. Cutting edge analytics, provided by a strong platform, are another element. For instance, Buzzfeed provides detailed metrics over content usage that help marketers identify which key content areas they want to align with. "Content is king as long as a strong tech platform is the kings throne." Another element of the content platform is its relationship with Social Media. In short a successful digital media property nowadays is a mix between a media-content company and a tech company.
Content is king as long as a strong tech platform is the kings throne.
5. Is Facebook the new “frenemy”?
Publishers used to have a “frenemy” relationship with Google, in fact, they still have it. Well, now it seems like Facebook is “privileged” to also have become a “frenemy”. The social media giant is very effectively including content from a myriad of sites that it then monetizes via advertising. These advertising revenues may have been generated by destination sites, like Voxxi, themselves. Although, and that is the big catch, sites like Voxxi would have never gotten the engagement and huge audience figures social media properties including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram get.
6. Hispanic Leaders are not interested enough in supporting Media that reflects the Hispanic Community
Hispanic Associations and their leaders have not yet realized how important it is to support and invest in Multicultural driven Media. Very few of the large media companies (definitely not private equity backed Univision and Comcast owned Telemundo) are in the hands of Hispanics. There does not seem to be much interest of Hispanic leaders to invest in Hispanic targeted media that reflects the interest of the Hispanic community. Examples like Jeff Bezos acquisition of the Washington Post, Facebook Founder Chris Hughes investing in The New Republic or even the Pro-Publica model are almost non-existent in the Hispanic realm.