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Atlantic Media's Quartz aims to rock business journalism

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Atlantic Media is looking to disrupt the global business media market with its new brand Quartz (www.qz.com), which will be launched later this month or early next month. “We want Quartz to be an innovator from the product side to the monetization side,” said Justin Smith, Atlantic Media president. “We want to disrupt the marketplace on the product front with a different and unusual tablet-first user interface. On the commercial front, we're looking to disrupt through nonstandard ad units, customization of ad creative to the mobile platform by our own developers, branded content and event solutions.” While the Quartz user interface is under wraps until its debut, Smith said it has been built in HTML5, making it browser-based and viewable on any mobile device. Users will be able to bookmark the app to their mobile screens for an experience similar to apps designed exclusively for operating systems from Apple (iOS), Google (Android) and others. Quartz will also employ responsive design so that the format will adapt automatically to the size of the viewer's screen. With an advertising-supported business model, Quartz will not put what Smith calls “the friction of a paywall” between its content and the audience. That differentiates Quartz from the Financial Times and The Economist, which have digital subscription models and serve the audience of C-suite and senior-level global business professionals that Quartz is also targeting. Smith estimated Quartz could ultimately reach an audience of 10 million to 15 million. Meanwhile, the journalistic quality of Quartz is expected to be on par with other top business sites. Smith brought in Kevin Delaney, a former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Online, as editor in chief. “The core and majority of our content will be original, but we are very interested in the open Web and aggregation,” Smith said. “We are also building a large body of commentary.” Social networks will play a key role, too. “Social distribution has been at the center of the traffic growth strategy of TheAtlantic.com and represents a similar opportunity for Quartz,” he added. To optimize the mobile experience for advertisers, Quartz will offer a suite of nonstandard ad units, Smith said. “All of our ad units at the outset are going to be full-screen, with beautiful creative that harkens back to the magazine advertising experience,” he said. “We have developers on our ad sales team who are customizing [the ads] for our platform.” Through the end of the year, Quartz will have only four sponsors. “That was our plan and we sold out,” Smith said. Starting in early 2013, Quartz will open up to more advertisers and move to an impression-based advertising monetization model. Quartz will also have sponsored content. “Branded content is something we're doing very successfully on TheAtlantic.com,” Smith said. Also following in the footsteps of The Atlantic and the company's National Journal, Quartz will produce thought-leadership events under the Quartz Live brand.
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