Atlantic Media’s mobile-first digital publication Quartz has appointed Sruthijith KK as the editor for its Indian edition, which will be launched here in June in partnership with Scroll.in, which has been set up by former ACK Media CEO Samir Patil. Sruthijith was previously with The Economic Times, prior to which he has worked at ContentSutra* and Mint, among other publications.What is unusual is that the 4-5 member editorial team of the Indian edition of Quartz, including Sruthijith, will be rolls of Scroll. Scroll.in founder Samir Patil told MediaNama that such an arrangement is typically done when there is a licensing deal, but in this case, there is no licensing arrangement between Scroll.in and Quartz.
S. Kalita Mitra, Ideas Editor at Quartz, had worked with Sruthijith while she was at Mint between 2006 and 2008.
The biggest question was why Atlantic Media went with Scroll instead of any other media house, or set up a their own operations in the country. Patil says that he wanted a partner for launching the publication in India and approached Quartz as they had similar ideas, especially around native advertising. Kalita told MediaNama that they liked Scroll because it wrote stories with sharability in mind.
The arrangement between Scroll.in & Quartz
Patil says that Scroll has a “co-publishing deal” with Quartz, and it will take care of all the content, while Quartz will take care of all the monetization. There is a revenue sharing agreement in place, but Patil declined to comment on the details of the arrangement, citing a Non Disclosure Arrangement with Quartz. He did clarify that this is a not a content licensing deal, and no investment has been made either. Kalita declined to comment on details related to the business arrangement between Scroll.in and Quartz.
On whether Quartz will be able to seed native advertising in a laggard online advertising market like India
Quartz will get advertisers for the Indian edition and it doesn’t look like Scroll will set up an advertising team for the website as of now. However Patil talks about the possibility of it having an in-house advertising team that could even sell slots for the parent website in the long run.
“In India there has been growth in all media sectors so traditional media companies have not concentrated so much on digital yet. This has been the bane of digital advertising in India till now. We are trying to change that here. There is a need for high quality digital publication in India that has high quality journalism and analysis — the qualities of traditional media,” Patil says.
The company is trying to reduce clutter with native advertising and the formats will be similar to what it uses at qz.com as of now. Patil counters the traditional idea that Indian advertisers are not interested in native advertising by saying that the mood has shifted in the past year and a half.
Traffic from India is very high to international websites like NYTimes and in the case of Quartz, it is in the top five. So it feels the market is ready for such advertising formats. “There are already a bunch of advertisers who know about this Indian audience. The challenge till now has been how to grab their attention. These advertisers who understand the importance of digital advertising and are looking for innovation, but innovative publications are yet to emerge,” he says.
“In advertising the pressure is more on the creative now. If you make a good ad, millions will watch it without them having to pay a penny. Even advertising gets shared and native ads need to be thought of similarly as creatively as piece of content,” Patil says.
Content strategy: Quartz is business, Scroll is generic, political news
There won’t be much of an overlap as Quartz India will focus on business related content, broadly speaking, while Scroll focuses on areas such as politics. In case Quartz finds a story on Scroll that might be interesting to its audience it will cross-post it.
Kalita says that Quartz defines business reporting very broadly and that its presence here will augment Indian coverage on Quartz. The website is not looking at this just as a chance to enter India, but it is also trying to cater to Indians who have a hunger to connect with global economy.
She also says that by launching an Indian edition it will be able to offer a deeper coverage of the Indian economy and there will be a concerted effort to cover stories that are more relevant to India.
Disclosure: Sruthijith had taken over after Nikhil Pahwa left ContentSutra to set up MediaNama
Corrigendum: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that India is the second largest source of traffic for Quartz.