Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
With Old Town Media, three former Politico execs want to help publishers figure out the future
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 5, 2016, 12:23 p.m.
LINK: www.wsj.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   December 5, 2016

If you were confused what The Outline, the ambitious new digital media project from The Verge and Bloomberg veteran Josh Topolsky, was supposed to be (or look like), its official launch today offers some clarity (its public products were thus far a Westworld recap/fan theory podcast and a Mars landing game).

On the editorial end, it’s defining its coverage against other well-established outlets: The site’s work falls somewhere between a legacy outlet like The New York Times and a digital native like BuzzFeed, Topolsky told The Wall Street Journal on Monday. It’s a “next-generation” version of the New Yorker, ostensibly, a “New Yorker for millennials.”

the-outline-mobile-swipeOn both the design and revenue sides of things, the venture-funded site is hoping to break new ground. The mobile-focused design is also graphics heavy and built around the action of swiping (including for its ads, which are kind of…fun to play around with). While other news organizations are becoming less enthusiastic about the promise of digital advertising outside of high-touch native ads, Topolsky is confident “great advertising [on the web] is possible, and we think it works”:

The design is deliberately a departure from web publications engineered to get people to click from headline to headline to headline, he contends. “You won’t see a feed on The Outline,” he said. “This is about the swipe not the scroll.”

Other publishers, including Forbes and Vox Media, are experimenting with this sort of heavily mobile and Snapchat-inspired navigation.

There will be no standard ad placements on The Outline, and no programmatic selling, said Amanda Hale, chief revenue officer. Like its editorial, The Outline’s ads are designed to be full-screen, highly visual placements that are not unlike classic magazine ads on a phone.

‘There is this huge unexplored space between the banner and thousand word pieces produced by the Times T Studio,’ said Ms. Hale, referring to the Times’ group that focuses on producing content on behalf of marketers. ‘We want all of our ads to look art directed’…

Mr. Topolsky said he’s even had early conversations about other publishers potentially employing The Outline’s ad technology down the road.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
With Old Town Media, three former Politico execs want to help publishers figure out the future
The company is a little difficult to describe, but its mission is less so: to help a wide variety of news organizations develop new ideas, be more efficient, and build new ways to stay in business.
Stop giving photoshoots and admiring profiles to bros who make AdSense cash writing fake news
“Disinfobros.” Also: Snopes gets fact-checked about its own history, and Mark Zuckerberg is transformed by a meeting with a Waco minister.
“The Internet hates secrets”: Clear Health Costs works with newsrooms to bring healthcare costs out of hiding
“We think of this as a perfect use case for journalism — finding real, good information and displaying it back to the public.”