June 1, 2015

When Quartz launched, from the start there was an assumption it would do video, said Quartz Editor-in-Chief and President Kevin Delaney. But first, staff wanted to figure out what Quartz was before tackling something so resource-intensive.

“So two and a half years into the life of Quartz, we felt we had the confidence that we were ready to tackle video,” he said.

And the way they’re tackling it probably isn’t what you’ve seen so far. People make a lot of assumptions about what online video is, Delaney said, including that preroll advertising is the only way to monetize those videos. But he’s not so sure, so Quartz has created some space to experiment and rethink how video could work.

Last Thursday, Delaney wrote about how the site will approach the medium. From his post:

We’re publishing our initial videos where viewers already are, on Facebook and YouTube. (We’re also embedding them in a YouTube player on qz.com for our loyal readers whenever that makes sense.) In our first few weeks, we’ve already published one major viral hit, a science video with over 15 million views on Facebook. Other videos have had significant success.

Quartz has hired three digital video journalists, Delaney said, “and told them to come in and be bold and creative and experiment.”

That includes thinking about how those videos should be produced and where they should be distributed.

“They have basically six months where they’re not subject to pressures around traffic or advertising inventory or other things that weigh on everyone else in the industry.”

The team has spent the last month getting gear and getting started, and they’ve had a camera for about two weeks. They’ve already produced several videos, which have been published to Facebook, YouTube and even on LinkedIn. They’re meeting monthly to talk about what’s working, what’s not and what they’d like to experiment with, including animation.

“One thing that’s really, really important is that they’re integrated in our site and our newsroom,” Delaney said of the video team. “They sit in the middle of everything.”

They’ll also help create tools so that all of Quartz’ journalists can create simple videos the way they’ve used Chartbuilder with graphics.

Quartz is on Facebook and YouTube for now because that’s where the viewers are, Delaney said, and in an experimental phase, the more viewers the better to help the team see what’s working. The expectation, eventually, is that videos will bring in revenue. Delaney doesn’t think anyone really likes sitting through those preroll ads, and he’d like Quartz to find ad sponsorship formats for video that are a better user experience. It’s too early to talk much about that now, he said, but they’ll be experimenting with that, too.

“It’s really exciting, and our delay in getting into it is because we really want to have the ability to experiment, and that took a little bit of time.”

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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