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Future of Media: Quartz subscriber secrets, Netflix marketing tricks and Facebook... again

The Drum's senior reporter and media correspondent John McCarthy rounds up the latest media trends and developments. Also available in your inbox every Thursday as The Drum's Future of Media email briefing. Sign up here.

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John McCarthy here. This week we look at Quartz's subscriber drive, Facebook's efforts to appease around the US election, Netflix's marketing tricks and more.

Quartz courts paying subscribers

If you want to support quality news and analysis, you're probably going to have to pay for it – because advertising certainly isn't picking up the slack any time soon.

So, Quartz dropped into my inbox news that it had breached 21,000 paying subscribers – roughly doubling its base in around a year.

I had to ask Katie Weber, president of Quartz, just how it pulled this off.

Here are a few takeaways.

  • In early quarantine, sub growth was up about a quarter year-on-year. In a crisis, readers flocked towards quality information (I'm relieved to learn this).

  • More than a third of its subscribers are in the C-Suite – and all of its output is ruthlessly tailored for this audience.

  • And newsletters have been the rocket fuel of its sub growth. It's where loyal readers are born and grow.

Catch up with the rest here.

Esports Boom

At this stage, you're either all aboard the esports train or asking what it is. If you still don't know, check out my explainer. Catch up. I'll wait.

Ok, now we're all on the same page, I talked to Mei-Ling Rider, a cool Red Bull marketer with experience in action sports who has now moved into the world of esports as the head of marketing at G2, a German team with a huge global presence.

She opened up on esports' role in the media ecosystem, and in particular how it helped build stables like live streaming and Twitch. She said: "The esports audience is hyper-engaged, passionate and in the 18-30 sweet spot which can be incredibly enticing for brands and media. There is so much content being made daily – hours and hours of engaging, funny, dramatic and creative content that is slowly being introduced to the wider media.”

Check it out.

Netflix marketing tricks

Ok. Netflix needs no introductions or explainers. In fact, you should probably close this email and catch up with your favourite SVOD.

Those who remain can see the views of broadcast expert Mihir Haria-Shah of Total Media. He explained why Netflix is sampling its shows to non-subscribers.

As the subscriber plateau approaches, Netflix needs to grow the market or face the consequences of tens of competitors snapping at it from all sides.

Haria-Shah said: "Using free teasers/samples is a really clever way for it to entice a slightly different audience than the usual month-long free trialists. This move makes it easier for people to experience Netflix content by removing the most abrasive barriers – entering details and billing information."

Go deeper here.

But that's not all. Max De Lucia, co-founder of sonic branding firm DLMDD, explained to us how famed composer Hans Zimmer remastered Netflix's audiobrand, that unforgettable 'Ta-dum'.

We're going to hear it a lot more, and it packs way more punch.

And a final thing, Alex Hole, the European vice-president at Samsung Ads, reflected on the rise of at-home cinema experiences as Disney fast-tracks Mulan to TV for a one-off fee of £19.99.

You're going to see SVOD platforms working to ensure they keep cinema audiences at home instead.

Facebook again

Are you tired of reading about Facebook? I'm tired of writing about it.

So, very quickly, Facebook introduced some political advertising concessions that you can read about here. Make up your own mind whether it is doing enough to protect the biggest election of a generation, during a pandemic for additional drama.

Fingers crossed misinformation and manipulation won't be a problem this time around...

Well, that’s this week’s round-up. If you missed last week’s, I’ve summarised it here.

If you’ve anything to share – a tip, a correction, a complaint – or if you just want to chat, you can get me at or @johngeemccarthy on Twitter.

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