MIAMI – After 172 years in print, The Economist magazine should know a thing or two about two key media topics – business models, and cyclicality.

Paul Rossi thinks he has a radar for both. That’s why the publication’s president is pushing the respected, independent and sometimes straight title to produce content on behalf of advertisers.

“There is huge disruption happening with viewability, ad blocking, ad fraud, putting a real question mark around the viability of purely-advertising businesses,” he tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “The future is around premium brands and business models that have two legs to the table.”

By that, Rossi means both advertiser and consumer funding – the historic duality that has been the news publishing industry’s strength.

But Rossi is pushing to augment that first leg with something of the new advertiser landscape – branded content, produced by The Economist, for brands.

“That side of our business grew last year by nearly 40%,” he says. “We can see that graph continuing. We’re very confident we’ve got the right structure to service where marketers are pushing their money, which is increasingly owning their own content and storytelling for audiences.

“We have a whole legacy business built on storytelling. We are increasingly working directly with clients, there are no agencies in the mix, we’re creating programs … in a way that is game-changing for everyone.”

The title has now built a social media following of a combined 35 million, according to deputy editor Tom Standage, an Economist veteran.

Even as more marketers begin to pay for a different kind of marketing, however, Rossi doesn’t want to neglect the other leg to his table – paying readers. In fact, it sounds like his top online circulation priority is to grow the base of subscribers in the world’s biggest market, the US.


This video was recorded at the 4A’s Transformation conference in Miami.   For additional interviews, please visit this page. Beet.TV’s coverage of the 4A’s was sponsored by The Trade Desk.