The platform, Espresso, is a news service that will be published at 6 am every weekday morning in three editions for the Americas, Europe and Asia. Its aim is to provide readers with a concise morning briefing of the most important events to have happened in the world—one that should take no more than several minutes to read and absorb.
Espresso is available as a smartphone application or as an email and is designed to be read on the go, according to a statement from The Economist. While free to subscribers of the magazine, it will cost the equivalent of US$4 per month to non-subscribers. It will be sponsored and carry a limited amount of advertising throughout each month.
John Micklethwait, The Economist’s editor-in-chief, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the company saw demand for pared-down news content. He said Espresso would be deliberately brief with minimal links and would begin by telling readers the five key things The Economist feels they need to know that day. It can be seen as an extension of the magazine’s selling point of keeping people up to date with world affairs for the purpose of social encounters.
“As a business person you don’t want to wander into a room and not know about something consequential that has taken place,” Micklethwait said. “This isn’t an app with lots of links to other pieces. This says, ‘we want five to 10 minutes of your time’; we think there are five or 10 minutes we can grab out of someone’s day and say ‘this is important’.”
He said the service benefited from The Economist’s perception as a “trusted filter”. He added that the words at the end of the product, ‘That’s it’, were significant in that they reassured readers of being up to speed on the issues that matter.
Quartz is an example of a mobile-first platform that follows a somewhat similar format at no cost. But Micklethwait said The Economist was adamant that people should pay for Espresso. He said it would be a way to bring in new customers who would also potentially subscribe to the magazine, in particular younger readers.
The Economist is targeting 1 million downloads of the application by the end of the year. It is promoting Espresso through PR initiatives, social media, banner advertising on CNBC.com and Economist.com, in-app advertising across existing Economist apps, a cover wrap on this week’s print edition, print ads and through Apple’s app store.