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More competition for Snapchat + problems with transparency
Atlantic Media's weekly newsletter on everything new and innovative in the media industry.
POP-UPS POP UP
THE NEWS
Publishers have been experimenting with pop-up newsletters and pop-up print newspapers, with some products outstaying their original pop-up designations. Products that have recently emerged include:
  • Monocle’s Summer Weekly: a weekly print newspaper to be produced for a limited run in August to target the European vacation crowd.
  • Migratory Notes: a weekly newsletter that popped up at the end of January to help readers understand news surrounding the Trump travel ban. It has outlasted its intended month-long run due to positive feedback and a continued avalanche of immigration-related news.
  • The New York Times’s ‘Game of Thrones’ newsletter: a limited-run weekly newsletter covering the latest season of Game of Thrones, produced by NYT’s Watching vertical.
  • The New European: a weekly print newspaper launched two weeks after the Brexit vote to cater to those who voted ‘Remain.’ It has remained long past its original four-week run due to demand.
  • Vox’s VoxCare: a daily newsletter edited by Vox’s healthcare reporter Sarah Kliff that provides in-depth insight on a particular topic in healthcare. It’s not exactly a pop-up since an end-date was never announced, but it’s included in this list because of its reactionary origins.
SO WHAT
Pop-up products are filling needs not widely met by mainstream media products, including:
  • Making sense of timely issues that were not receiving widespread, in-depth coverage. Migratory Notes with immigration and VoxCare with healthcare are both written by journalists with expertise in their respective beats.
  • Capitalizing on timely topics that people feel strongly about. The NYT’s Game of Thrones newsletter covers the popular show’s latest season, and The New European taps into the pro-European Union sentiment following the Brexit vote. NYT’s GoT newsletter amassed 61,000 subscribers within three weeks of launch, and fans of The New European are tweeting photos of themselves reading the weekly.
  • Reaching underserved markets. Monocle’s new Summer Weekly is designed to serve vacationing Europeans who have extra time to read. The number of newsstand purchases of the paper remain to be seen, but prior to release, the Summer Weekly was already profitable due to enthusiastic responses from advertisers and 20,000 pounds-worth of pre-orders within a day of the pop-up newspaper’s announcement.
Some publications monetize their pop-ups directly through advertising — as of late June, VoxCare was sold out of available ad space. Additional benefits of pop-ups include the potential to funnel readers into other subscription products and the opportunity to experiment with different newspaper business models.

LOOK FOR
Whether more publishers get in on the pop-up game, what forms these products take, what topics they cover, and how publishers monetize them. Also check out how single-topic products that emerged in reaction to controversial policies and decision-making, like Migratory Notes, VoxCare, and The New European, endure and evolve over time, and how products designed to serve underserved markets like Monocle’s Summer Weekly perform with readers.
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THIS MADE US SMARTER
As legacy local media outlets continue to struggle, Denverite, a Denver-based newsletter, has found lean, digital-only ways of covering local news. Since launching a year ago, the outlet, which has since expanded to include a website, four newsletters, and a podcast, has experimented with engagement-based strategies to optimize their 12-person team. One such strategy includes leveraging reader feedback via call-to-actions and subscriber events to develop expertise in two of the principal areas Denver-dwellers care about: homelessness and housing. Other learnings from their first year include the importance of credibility and consistency in building a subscriber base.
“Clinton really blew it with eclipse-belt voters”
in analysis of this map

WHAT'S NEW WITH...
FACEBOOK // Facebook is updating its algorithm to prioritize faster-loading web pages on mobile. Web pages that load slower than a certain threshold will be punished with decreased visibility on the platform.

SNAPCHAT // Snapchat has opened up its Discover section to college newspapers, inviting a couple dozen to publish campus editions to the platform, in exchange for a split of ad revenue. Visibility of these campus editions will be limited to users within each campus.
 
GOOGLE // Google wants to introduce a product with similar functionality as Snapchat Discover, joining a slew of other companies copying Snapchat’s features. The search giant is rumored to be developing a service to be called Stamp on top of its fast-loading AMP mobile web pages. Similar to Snapchat’s Discover feature, Stamp will allow publishers to create swipeable stories featuring text, photo, and video.

NYT // Programmatic direct advertising has been vital to the New York Times’s growth in Europe and Asia. Revenue from programmatic direct has doubled in the past three months compared to the first three months of the year, largely due to the Times’s increased customization of their programmatic products to cater to the needs of different international markets.
 
MEDIUM // After experimenting with Medium for a little over a year, The Awl has moved back to using Wordpress as its content management system, citing advertising as the primary reason for the switch back. Medium announced earlier this year that it was pivoting away from advertising toward a reader payment-based business model.

PIVOT TO VIDEO // Publishers like Business Insider and Cheddar have been repackaging and posting commercials to their social media accounts to quickly and cheaply produce video content, sometimes without the knowledge or sponsorship of the brand who originally produced the marketing materials. Through this practice, publishers get more video content to sell advertising against, brands get free exposure, and platforms get increased video uploads, though MarketingDive opines that the practice lacks transparency and can hurt publisher credibility with users who do not know they are watching an ad.

WAGE GAP // Financial Times journalists are threatening to strike if the FT does not close its gender pay gap, which currently sits at 13%. The newspaper has committed to closing the pay gap by 2022, but the journalists want equality by 2020 — the 50-year anniversary of the Equal Pay Act — in addition to immediate disclosure of earnings by gender, age, ethnicity, education, and disability.
 
TRANSPARENCY // German newspaper Bild plans to call out any articles containing leaked information with a teaser reading “Hacked,” and it will highlight in red all paragraphs that use leaked information. This comes as part of an effort to combat leakers’ attempts to manipulate the outcome of the upcoming German election.

M&A // More media deals were struck in Q2 of 2017 than any quarter in the previous two years, in part due to the Trump administration's laissez-faire attitude toward media regulation. A recent big deal was Discovery’s acquisition of Scripps for $11.9 billion.

SUBSCRIBER SPOTLIGHT
KASIA CIEPLAK-MAYR VON BALDEGG
Executive Producer, Atlantic Studios
 
Can you describe your day-to-day?
There's no typical day at Atlantic Studios! We're constantly juggling development of new projects with the fast-paced production cycle of creating original video for the web. On any given day, I'm working with Ashley Bloom Kenny, our senior producer, to give notes on all the videos in production, including documentaries, animations, and hosted YouTube shows. I'm reading drafts of amazing magazine stories in the works from Scott Stossel, to see which might lend themselves to a video collaboration. I'm meeting with our producers to develop original series pitches for outside funding (foundations or other underwriters), and even other platforms, like Facebook and VR. Lately I've also been meeting with our agents, production studios, and filmmakers to explore which Atlantic projects have the potential to become feature films and TV series. This has been an exciting, busy summer!

Can you tell us about an interesting project you've worked on lately?
We're in the process of shifting the focus of our distribution strategy to YouTube, which is a really exciting step for us for a number of reasons. We love that the platform allows us to build a community of fans (subscribers), and have a two-way conversation with them about our videos. We're already getting great feedback in the comments. We also appreciate that the platform attracts viewers who are looking for high-quality video experiences. When we looked at the average watch times for our videos — even longer documentaries — the engagement numbers blew us away. Last but not least, since YouTube is such a powerful search engine to surface video and build audience, it will allow us to monetize video on a level beyond what we've been able to do with our own platform to date. Please check us out, and we hope you subscribe!

What's the most interesting project you've seen recently from an outlet other than The Atlantic?
I'm really excited for this interview series from On the Media on documentary storytelling, hosted by Bob Garfield. The first installment looks at manipulation in documentaries, and it's totally fascinating.
 
Do you know someone doing interesting work in media? Nominate them (or yourself) to be featured in Subscriber Spotlight here.
Last week, we asked on what platform you view Stories the most. 1% of you said you watch Stories primarily on Facebook, 35% of you watch on Instagram the most, 46% of you watch Snapchat Stories the most, and 17% of you don’t view Stories.

This week: As tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon continue to strive for increasing share of consumer attention, products like the Light Phone, a phone with functionality limited to just calling, are cropping up to curb distractions and help users unplug.
 
Would you use the Light Phone?
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Send us thoughts, tips, or reduced-functionality devices at idea@atlanticmedia.com.

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