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Vice Media in peril as tech giants increase online stranglehold

For years the threat from the internet seemed to be that it would kill off newspapers and magazines (which, to a degree, it has but not terminally – yet.)

Now it seems to be eating itself. Vice Media is on its last legs with the once online pioneer closing down its much-imitated website and laying off hundreds of staff.

CEO Bruce Dixon says: “As we navigate the ever-evolving business landscape, we need to adapt and best align our strategies to be more competitive in the long term. After careful consideration and discussion with the board, we have decided to make some fundamental changes to our strategic vision at Vice.

“We create and produce outstanding original content true to the Vice brand. However, it is no longer cost-effective for us to distribute our digital content the way we have done previously.” Which is looking on the bright side, with a vengeance.

At once point Vice was valued at a dizzy $5.7 billion, with 1,000 employees worldwide.

Ad-supported sites are floundering as the tech giants hoover up adspend with the latest manifestation, retail media, taking another huge slice of the market. Google’s decision to abandon cookies hardly helps and, more generally, the likes of Google and Facebook (and now TikTok) are fighting like cats in a sack for market share – whatever the cost to anyone else. If Google took less commission in its monopoly position as online ad gatekeeper, that would help. But they won’t.

Media agencies, despite their occasional protestations about supporting a diverse range of titles, are keener than ever to dump their client’s money into the biggest operators, the ones who offer them the best deals.

Nobody really expected this. the motto, maybe, is be careful what you wish for.

No word yet on the fate of ad agency Virtue by Vice.

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