Emily Tan
Oct 18, 2012

Atlantic’s new magazine Quartz is designed to live online

HONG KONG – Atlantic Media has launched its tablet-led global business publication Quartz in Asia-Pacific as part of the third leg of its global rollout.

Quartz viewed on a tablet
Quartz viewed on a tablet

The free digital publication was first launched in the US in September with launch sponsors Boeing, Cadillac, Chevron and Credit Suisse. The four brands will each own a 25 per cent share of Quartz's advertising inventory for the first three months, after which it will being accepting advertising from other clients.

Targeted at global business professionals, Justin Smith, president of Atlantic Media Company, described its audience as “persons in senior management of a large global corporation, or entrepreneurs, who are involved in businesses that are transnational, continents looking for analysis and insight on how to navigate the global economy.”

While there is a degree of overlap with the global business titles Financial Times and The Economist, Smith told Campaign Asia-Pacific yesterday that Quartz’s audience is however younger and more digitally savvy.

In town for the launch tonight in Hong Kong, Smith, explained that although Quartz has launched into a niche space dominated by The Economist and the Financial Times, it has two key advantages.

“First,  both these titles are traditional media designed first to be consumed in print, then transported to desktop and then from there to mobile, Quartz is a native digital brand that is tablet and smartphone first,” said Smith.  

The effort to protect their print products, he added, has led to The Economist and the FT hiding behind pay walls. “You can’t share content that’s behind a pay wall.”

Quartz on the other hand has “optimised content for social sharing” with export and share buttons which include the expected Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and mobile-reading favourite, Instapaper. The site is also Flipboard friendly.

“The way we discover content is changing with social media a primary source of discovery,” said Smith.

In its first month, Smith expects Quartz to draw a readership of more than 500,000 and to be profitable in three years.

Atlantic has clearly put a great deal of thought into the publication’s design, from the adaptive HTML5 site which adapts to the screen viewing it, to its mobile-typing friendly URL: qz.com

It is after all, designed by the team that helped make the 153-year old flagship title, The Atlantic, profitable after 150 years of loss-making. “Atlantic online went from 500,000 reader to 18 million in four years,” said Smith.

The site’s buttons and links are finger-friendly and on the tablet version has an infinitely scrolling strip of headlines for easy scanning.

Any advertising on the site will also be redesigned by the team so it appears “native”. “The live ads live between articles, no banners and buttons,” said Smith.

Quartz has also introduced another form of native advertising, ‘sponsored stories’, into its Op-Ed section. “While clearly marked ‘sponsored’ these differ from advertorials in that our writers work closely with sponsors to produce valued content that our readers will want to read,” said Smith. This doesn’t break “church and state” because the content is clearly marked ‘sponsored’, he assured.

When building for tablet, Atlantic rethought not only site design but also the way it wrote, presented and classified news.  

Instead of beats, Quartz groups articles into topics or ‘obsessions’ that run in a bar under the masthead, rather like a stock ticker. Current topics include China’s slowdown, mobile web and digital money. .

“The focus entirely global. It’s not US, Europe or Asia focused, but as you can see China’s economy is an important topic to most of our readers right now,” said Smith.

Quartz’s staff of 30 (including freelancers) are mostly based in the US but have reported from 114 countries and speak 19 different languages.  It also has a small office in Hong Kong which will mostly be focused on ad sales.

The publication is not above aggregating content from other news sites if it catches editorial’s interest, added Smith. “It’s a great way of covering stuff we don’t ourselves.”

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