In the name of efficiency, Vice reorganizes international digital operations

Vice Media has revealed a major global restructure which will see the publisher’s international digital teams work more cohesively and under a single, global revenue and operational target for the first time.

Like many digital publishers that have expanded fast overseas, Vice’s international footprint has become somewhat sprawling over time, working across 35 different territories and 29 wholly-owned international bureaus each operating on a regional, autonomous basis. That can lead to differing operational structures and resource inefficiencies which are important to snuff out.

Vice wants to streamline its use of editorial and commercial resources across all its offices in what it has described as its “Going Global” strategy. In order to achieve it, the publisher has restructured its global leadership team and announced a raft of promotions across the U.S., Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America regions.

“Vice has always succeeded in ways of being more entrepreneurial and creative and paying attention to audiences where they are,” said Vice Media chief digital officer Cory Haik. “Regional heads will still be focused on their specific regions, but we will be more centralized at strategic levels and under a single P&L.”

She added that all international bureaus will remain open, and there are no job cuts to be had as part of the reorganization.

The moves come as Vice under CEO Nancy Dubuc looks to streamline itself. In January the publisher unified all its brands and verticals including Vice News onto one URL and under the central Vice brand. That involved consolidating verticals like Noisey, Broadly, Munchies, Motherboard all under Doing so also means it can now pitch a more streamlined offer to global advertisers, according to Haik.

“That was no small change,” she said. Previously its audience consumed Vice brands at different URLs, and that also didn’t make sense from a commercial standpoint, she added. “We’re architecting our site and our staff to serve the needs of global clients, which we think will give us commercial advantage over our competitors. We want to supercharge our ads business with this change.” This, as well as uniting the international commercial strategic heads of each region in which it operates, should open the door to more global commercial partnerships with advertisers, according to Haik.

London-based CRO and chief digital officer Luke Barnes has been promoted to the role of co-chief of global digital business outside of North America, alongside Myki Slonim who was previously president of Vice Digital for APAC regions. Both will report to Haik, who joined Vice Media from her role as publisher of Mic four months ago and is the architect of the new global vision.

On the editorial front, svp of digital Katie Drummond will take on the role of svp of global content, working closely with regional content heads across EMEA, APAC and LATAM on the development of a new global, editorial strategy. Chuck Lee, director of growth and publishing,  will become svp of global publishing with a remit to unify Vice Media’s social distribution and audience growth approach. He will work closely with the heads of EMEA, APAC and LATAM regions to build and execute its global publishings strategy.

The plan is also to beef up staff in areas like new editorial format creation such as mobile-first stories, tap-through visual experiences and other areas across video and written text articles, according to Haik. There are over 12 open roles and new positions still to fill in the U.S. focused in those areas. Plans are afoot to do the same internationally.

“We’ll be doing more international hiring as we want to beef up our overall content creation for new platforms and creative formats as we go into 2020,” said Haik.

Economizing its global footprint is a critical step for Vice Media. The changes mark a period of retrenchment the publisher has been through in order to recover from a tumultuous financial period which culminated in cutting 10% of its 2,500 workforce in February, in order to rein in costs. In 2018, the company predicted revenue to be between $600 million and $650 million — flat with 2017, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Developing and expanding editorial franchises which have been successful in their country of origin, to other territories will be a major focus, she added. For instance, Haik wants to export more series like the London Rental Opportunity of the Week format internationally to become franchises. Likewise, other editorial text-written or video series that have performed well in specific countries, will be adapted and exported to other territories.

Despite having a large international audience, sharing a CMS and also content, Vice Media’s international teams have worked on a pretty siloed basis. Major workflow changes are underway in order to ensure the international editorial teams gel better, and don’t overlap on resources. For instance, the publisher has created for the first time a unified, shared editorial calendar so that all newsrooms have visibility on editorial plans from other markets. That means if one team has planned and budgeted for the creation of a video series, other bureaus can better plan around how they may feed off that, without replicating efforts that squanders valuable budget unnecessarily.

Currently, the business doesn’t have a centralized communications platform either, something that can easily be fixed by having a common Slack for all employees across its wide range of offices, according to Haik.

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