Quartz prides itself on being a global brand, but there comes to a point when a stronger local commercial presence is needed.
In London, it plans to increase the European sales and marketing team from 11 to 20 in the next year, hiring a mix of designers, branded-content specialists, researchers and project managers. Previously, most of the work with advertisers — Quartz offers custom ads, which for the most part have some branded content — was done with help from Quartz’s headquarters in New York.
With its London office working in tandem with sales teams in New York, Atlantic Media-owned Quartz claims 90 percent of global clients renew contracts, and it’s taking over more than 100 advertising clients into 2017 from the previous year.
“We focus on that metric a lot,” said Kevin Delaney, co-president and editor-in-chief. “It’s hard to figure out the best way for brands to communicate with our audience. We’re very focused on keeping promises we make from execution over to sale, where it could fall down for others is in unfocused execution or unreasonable promises.”
Over 25 percent of its revenue from 2016 came from outside the U.S. Therefore, the timing seems right to invest in more resources in this region. “It’s to elevate that level of client service that we want to maintain,” said Katie Ingman, director of marketing for Europe, who was hired seven months ago. Quartz’s mission has been to serve readers on mobile better than any other. Increasingly, this means bots. In November, it launched a bot studio. “Our investment is not necessarily how this looks today but how this is an important area of distribution and delivery of news,” he said. “The conversion of that interaction and news — whether it’s chat or voice — it will be something other than an 800-word article.”
Quartz is a defender of the ad-supported model but will be launching a paid-for product in the next couple of months. Exactly how this will look, whether it’s a regular subscription or one-off products, is still to be determined, but it will be around artificial intelligence. Quartz recently acquired independent AI research firm Intelligentsia and its two research analysts, one of whom is a former Morgan Stanley analyst under venture capitalist Mary Meeker.
“We think AI is one of the most important macro developments for business and executives are really struggling with the impact who they should work with what the technology is,” said Delaney. As the information is niche, the business model will be paid for rather than ad-funded. While it’s offering a separate product, the research will also be filtered into Quartz’s journalism.
“Newsletters play to our strengths,” said Delaney, adding that Quartz Daily Brief, its first newsletter, has grown to 270,000 subscribers, with a open rate of 40 percent. Part of its appeal is it’s written so time-poor C-suite execs can glean a summary without clicking out of the email.
According to the publisher’s own research of 1,700 respondents, nine out of 10 executives subscribe to an email newsletter, but they’re selective about their consumption. They are also twice as likely to get news from email than video. Unlike other publishers, Quartz hasn’t found measurement to be a problem.
Last week, it ran a pop-up newsletter from Davos World Economic Forum; it ran a similar one at Cannes last year. “They give us a voice at the event,” he added.
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The format was the same as the daily email with a more self-aware, humorous bent, like an added section on things overheard at Davos. It organically picked up “thousands and thousands” of C-suite readers and had an open rate of 66 percent open rate. About 21 percent of subscribers are new readers to Quartz email database.
“If you look at the business news site universe, considering we’re global in readers and ambitious, we see a significant room to run in terms of expanding readership,” said Delaney. “We have no plans to stick at 20 million unique monthly visitors. That’s small compared to the opportunity.”
Image: courtesy of Mark Craemer.