The Atlantic aims to make waves for the digital business news world


Media Editor

The American publishing house behind the 155-year old magazine The Atlantic is set to launch a digital business news service which threatens the global position of the Financial Times and The Economist.

Quartz, which will launch in September, is primarily aimed at tablet users and is free of charge. It will target the international business class that lives life on the move. “If you look at the business people operating in this new economy, they are people who are in a sense post-national,” Justin B. Smith, president of the Atlantic Media Company told The Independent. “They spend more time outside their own countries, they are on aeroplanes all the time, they’re borderless and living mobile existences.”

Other news organisations will watch Quartz as a potential model for digital news provision. The editor-in-chief is Kevin Delaney, former managing editor of the digital operation at the Wall Street Journal. He said Quartz’s “form-agnostic approach” geared to tablets and mobiles would allow greater flexibility than traditional media products. “We are not focused on print deadlines or forms of content that are demanded by a print publication or a news wire service,” he said. “We are not beholden to the standard article format that traditional media organisations have to, by necessity, devote most of their energy to.”

The name Quartz was chosen not only to convey the idea of quality but also because it’s a disruptive mineral linked to tectonic activity, a metaphor for both the service itself and the kind of momentous economic shifts that Delaney’s team aims to identify and cover. “Our goal is to provide global business professionals with the most essential information at any given moment in the most efficient way.”

The venture has a core staff of 25 headquartered in New York’s fashionable SoHo, with representatives in London and Asia.

The Atlantic Media Company is aiming to build audience scale in the anticipation that advertisers will follow. Smith said he was not concerned by the vulnerability of such a model to falls in advertising rates, arguing that “rates are not falling for premium niche audiences”.

In any case, the venture is under no immediate pressure to turn a profit. “We are not going to make money for a few years – it’s an investment, the biggest our company has ever made,” said Smith. Although the first target is to build a premium audience, he does not rule out charging for content at some point in the future. According to his research, members of Quartz’s target audience typically own 4.21 mobile devices apiece, which Smith equates to two BlackBerrys, an iPad and a laptop. “They’re early adopters of mobile media,” he said. The Quartz strategy is based on the premise that this audience seeks a service that makes sense of “the river, the constant flow of information, the Twitter eco-system and the news analysis flow” that it receives on this array of devices.  The service will be available on tablet, smart phone and laptop.

Delaney has hired the former WSJ social media editor Zach Seward to oversee “editorial innovation”. Quartz is planning an innovative approach to advertising and has hired Chris Batty, formerly head of sales at Nick Denton’s Gawker Media group, publishers of a network of irreverent websites that includes Gawker, Gizmodo and Jezebel. “We are planning on disrupting on the advertising side [too],” said Smith. “We are not huge believers in the power of the banner ad.”

The Atlantic is already an unlikely American digital success story, having revamped its fusty reputation to become a digital first publication that makes a profit, after losing nearly £5m in 2005. The print magazine publishes ten times a year and has a growing circulation of around 470,000 while the open access website has a monthly audience of 10 million. The Atlantic’s revenues are supported by a calendar of carefully-chosen live events that support the editorial values of the brand. A similar live events strategy will be introduced on a global scale to support Quartz.

Although intrusive ads might be the price that users have to pay for free content, Smith argued that there was an “extra burden” on both publisher and advertiser to find “native advertising solutions” that did not damage the user experience on the new service.

Smith knows The Economist’s model well, having formerly worked for it as a group strategist in London. He later launched Felix Dennis’s publication The Week in the United States. He began his career working for the US State Department in Washington and West Africa before beginning a media career at the International Herald Tribune. His experience in charge of The Atlantic won him an award as “Publisher of the Year” from American title Ad Age and has convinced him of the value of a digital first and open access approach, supported by live events. While brands such as the FT, the WSJ and The Economist depend heavily on subscribers, Quartz will not be charging as it goes in search of what Smith called “the leading digital mobile audience in this space with the deepest amount of engagement”.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...


£40000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: DBA, London,...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform