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July 11, 2016, 10:18 a.m.
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LINK: qz.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Ricardo Bilton   |   July 11, 2016

Talk to enough investors, venture capitalists, or finance reporters and you’ll eventually hear someone complain about the use of gross domestic product (GDP), which many say is an incomplete way to measure today’s economy.

Quartz agrees, and wants to offer an alternative: Quartz Index, which the site announced today, is an interactive, regularly updating dashboard that aims to offer an unconventional but more comprehensive picture of the big numbers driving the world economy. Rather than focus on the stock market or GDP, Index looks at a handful of other indicators, such as the number of countries with negative interest rates, the number of Bitcoin transactions per day, the average London home price, and even the number of SpaceX launches.

quartz-index

“As you know when you cover or read business news, a lot of the numbers we look at have limited meaning because they’re quasi-directional, but don’t say much about what’s going on underneath the surface,” said Kevin Delaney, Quartz’s editor-in-chief. “We’ve chosen some things that are a proxy for where things are headed.”

Quartz Index is consistent with the site’s approach, which is built around using data and charts to report and present stories. Around half of Quartz posts include charts, Delaney estimated: “We believe that one of the most often effective and powerful ways to tell stories is using and visualizing data. Index is another way that we’re doing that,” he said.

Quartz Index is the latest in a series of launches from the site, which has become well known for experimenting with new story formats and products. Just as notable as its approach to product is its approach to advertising. With its public launch of chart tool Atlas, for example, Quartz also introduced sponsored charts, which GE and UPS were early customers of. That pattern continues which Quartz Index, which offers what might be the first example of a “sponsored data point.” BlackRock investment fund iShares, the project’s advertiser, is sponsoring the number “1/10” which is the “cost of iShares core ETFs vs. the cost of typical mutual funds,” BlackRock says. An iShares banner also appears at the top of the Quartz Index page.

“My philosophy about native ad content is we want it to be good and useful to people,” said Delaney. “We would rather have something like a sponsored data point than just a banner, because it’s something that for readers would be far more interesting.”

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