NEW YORK, United States — While many newspapers have enacted a digital paywall strategy to combat declining print revenues, Atlantic Media’s Quartz has managed to attract business-minded digital audiences without a subscription model — and while also turning a profit. The self-described "guide to the new global economy," known for its clean design and engaging story approach, reportedly earned more than $1 million from revenue over $30 million in 2016, according to Crain's New York Business.
Now, five years in, Quartz is expanding: last month it launched Quartz at Work, a source for “navigating the modern workplace,” and on Wednesday it reveals Quartzy, a lifestyle edition focused on fashion, design, food, travel and wellness. Originally launched as a newsletter by global lifestyle reporter Jenni Avins last autumn, Quartzy will deliver a mix of thoughtful features and quick tips that will cover luxury more loosely than some of its competitors. (Examples include writer Anne Quito on how to find the best souvenirs in every city and fashion reporter Marc Bain on how Dries Van Noten remains creative.)
“We are not a guide to acquisition; we are a guide to making smart choices about acquisition,” says Indrani Sen, Quartz’s culture editor. “We are more likely to suggest a way to cultivate a minimalist wardrobe than to tell people what the must have things are for fall.” Quartzy will expand the lifestyle and culture team to nine writers and two editors. The image-heavy site is designed to recall a luxury print magazine and encourage readers to keep scrolling and engaging.
Quartz says it attracts about 20 million unique visitors per month, half of which are outside the US, and which Quartz co-founder and editor-in-chief Kevin J. Delaney describes as younger and more gender-balanced than that of traditional news sites. It’s a coveted, upwardly-mobile millennial group that many competitors from Vox to FiveThirtyEight and BusinessWeek are courting.
While audience growth is top of mind for every publisher, Delaney says the recent Quartz launches are more about further engaging the core audience — and finding more like-minded readers along the way. "We continue to grow so we are always interested in reaching new readers, but this isn't an effort to reach a different type of person," he says. "At its core, it's an attempt to deepen the ways in which we are a guide to the global economy for the sort of readership we have now."
That audience is a compelling sell for advertisers, with whom Quartz has an admirable track record. (Luxury partners have included Chanel and Shinola.) According to Joy Robins, Quartz’s senior vice president of global revenue and strategy, the company counts about 40 consumer brands as clients, up from seven in 2014. “There is a substantial amount of luxury goods’ advertising money sitting out on digital because there are very few safe harbours for them to put those dollars,” she says. “Either sites don't reach the right target or their design environments are atrocious or their ad practices are atrocious.”
To that end, the company is introducing a new, cinematic full-screen ad unit with the launch of Quartzy called Spotlight. “Our bet is sophisticated consumer and luxury products and services marketers will recognize this about our platform,” she says, referring to Quartz’s ability to engage a desirable audience. “Our experience is more akin to theirs.”