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Vice Media’s Shane Smith: ‘we’re going to change the way TV is monetised with native ads’

Native ads on TV are coming, according to Vice Media’s co-founder and chief executive Shane Smith, who said its latest foray into TV will disrupt the way the channel is monetised.

“Everyone wants to be disruptor or a conduit of disruption until you actually disrupt something and then everybody hates you,” said Smith. And the media house is braced for what could be tepid enthusiasm from broadcasters to its upcoming TV channels, especially once they realise how they will be monetised.

Smith, who was speaking at Vice’s IAB Digital Upfront tonight (23 October), sold the proposition in as “native TV”. Details were thin on the ground as to what exactly it means but he did tease that it would translate its native content successes online to television. “We were the first people to do native advertising and we’re going to move that over to TV,” he continued. “We’re going to change the way TV is monetised.”

Vice has emerged as one of the poster boys of the content marketing era, with brands like Unilever and Verizon striking deals in order to understand how to make native advertising scale. Interestingly, there isn’t a lot of media spend behind the sponsored content on Vice, the publisher has said, because it treats its communities like the media buy.

Advertisers will no doubt be interested to see how this pans out on TV, which is widely viewed as a highly commoditised and expensive channel. They won’t have to wait long, with the youth-skewing media brand racing to launch 12 channels across Europe as well as a Vice Nework in the US next year. Smith told the Guardian that his company is in “fast and furious” talks with everyone from Netflix to ITV, Sky and Discovery about bringing its TV channels to the UK and Europe, sparking “a bit of a bidding war” for its prized content. 

The media house expects to be able to produce and programme its TV channels across Europe, dipping into its sprawling talent pool of writers, producers, filmmakers and directors. Some of these shows were teased at the Upfronts earlier and will tackle a broad canvas of topics ranging from hard-hitting documentaries about civil rights to cooking shows with a twist.

The media outfit has been licensing its content to linear broadcasters for years and has TV deals with networks in markets including the US, Germany and Serbia.

Vice TV chimes with the company’s bid to extend its reach further, a strategy that has already seen it strike deals with advertisers as well work with the likes of Snapchat and Channel 4 over the last two years. These partnerships have helped it gain ‘hundreds of millions of new viewers”, according to the business and pushed it to become one of the most in-demand players in the advertising world.

Featured by The Drum