Writing last week for the Nieman Journalism Lab, Ken Doctor analyzed “The newsonomics of the Quartz business launch.” It should be required reading for every B2B journalist and publisher.
In identifying the key aspects and implications of the business news startup from Atlantic Media, Doctor touched on a number of key points for any business-oriented publication. One in particular stood out for me:
Call it underwriting, sponsorship, or share of voice, Quartz is leaping over the littered landscape of impression-based display advertising and selling sponsorships. It will start with four sponsors, who are paying based on their association with The New. In a twist we’ll see more of — another reason Quartz is worth watching — these advertisers are creating their own content for Quartz readers, through something called “Quartz Bulletin.”
Atlantic Media seems to have accepted what Lewis DVorkin keeps telling us (most recently last Thursday): Content is content, whether it comes from an editor or an advertiser. As company president Justin Smith told Adweek, “We believe branded content is going to be an essential part of the site itself.”
Like Forbes, with its AdVoice product, Quartz recognizes that the old advertising model—limited to hermetically sealed ad units dropped beside editorial content—must change. Though the process is fraught with danger, publishers will have to start breaking down the wall that separates editorial from advertising and find a new model for sharing their media with their “advertisers”—a name that may likewise need to change.
Forbes and Atlantic Media may not have found the right model yet. But unlike too many other legacy publishers, they have at least recognized that the old one is broken and will never be mended.