Digiday and Quartz discussed with INMA study tour participants about new products, revenue streams, and creating value for their audiences. The visits by 40+ executives were part of the INMA World Congress of News Media Study Tour in New York.
Digiday started in 2008 as an events-focused company covering the transformation of the news media industry. Today, the brand offers content on its Web site and in a print magazine, as well as podcasts and newsletters.
“Newsletters are still the best conduit to ensure that we are getting to our readers on a regular basis,” said David Amrani, the company’s chief strategy officer.
Podcasts are also popular with Digiday’s audience. One experimental episode produced with US$300 worth of equipment has now grown to five weekly offerings produced in an in-house studio space.
These offerings create a rich subscription product, Digiday+, which costs US$395 per year for subscribers. Digiday also recently launched a metered paywall, limiting access to four free articles for U.S. readers, and varied access for those outside the country.
The metered approach was first tested on Glossy, another brand owned by the company. Experimentation at the heart of Digiday’s growth — podcasts, a magazine, the shift to a paywall — have been made possible by steady event revenue and a strategy that leverages existing resources, keeping costs low. This approach is at the heart of the company’s culture, said Shareen Pathak, Digiday’s managing director of editorial products.
“There’s a certain pride that comes with being a bootstrap company,” Pathak said.
Business-focused digital-only news company Quartz takes pride in its unique contextual and data-driven approach to content and the audience that gravitates toward it, said Gina Gotthilf, vice president of growth and community. Connecting this audience together to have meaningful conversations in person and on its digital platforms creates a community of people who may not have realised their joint passions.
“Quartz is not just a newsletter you can get,” Gotthilf said. “It’s a place where you can come together and discuss ideas.”
A great product experience facilitates these interactions. Quartz ensures the product and content are developed together so the experience is seamless and engaging. The company also takes a unique approach to content, eliminating traditional beats, Executive Editor Xana Atunes said.
“We don’t give our reporters beats. We think instead of stories in buckets we call ‘obsessions,’” Atunes said. “Obsessions are more dynamic than beats.”
Obsessions change as topics become more or less relevant and interesting to readers’ lives. Any reporter can contribute content toward an obsession. If a design reporter and management reporter are both contributing toward the Machines with Brains obsession, that topic becomes more rich and complex.
Content must always be at the intersection of interesting and important. Quartz has also applied this standard to its advertising work for clients.
Michael Dolan, the company’s senior creative director, gave an example of a campaign done for security software company Citrix. The company wanted to emphasise the importance of digital security for organisations. Quartz did this in an engaging, interactive eight-bit video game called Security Champion.
Ads should not be intrusive and should assume the user is smart. Brands should respect their audiences to create a healthy dynamic, Dolan said: “The one thing that you want someone to walk away with with your brand is goodwill.”