Flipboard’s Quittner Talks About Role, Explains Ad Platform

'We don't call ourselves an aggregator—it's a dirty word.'

If you have an iPad or tablet device, chances are you've seen the Web through the glossy world of Flipboard. If you've ever taken the "social magazine" for a spin, you might know that while the user experience is silky smooth, the company has had to address concerns about the service's threat to traditional journalism and even cases in some cases, legality. At the IAB Innovation Days conference this morning, Flipboard editorial director Josh Quittner shed some light on Flipboard's role in the journalistic realm and how it plans to serve ads to their users.

Quittner, a journalist by background, noted off the bat that Flipboard isn't trying to compete against the publications it culls together on the platform. "We are very much a service provider to the journalism industry. We don't really commit the act of journalism per se, and we have no designs for creating original content," he told the crowd. While not purveyors of original content, Quittner was careful in his description of the company. "We don't call ourselves an aggregator—it's a dirty word. We call ourselves a social magazine," he said to a few laughs.

Quittner instead decribed Flipboard as a "chubby baby," no doubt referring to the company's age and apparent hunger and desire to grow and indicating its desire to be known as a "fantastic sampling platform." Flipboard has wisely partnered with publishers to optimize content for the site (The Atlantic's page looks similar to its Web design, but with Flipboard's interface) and continues to attribute its views to the original content provider's Web traffic, even for non-partners.

Yet the biggest feature of note is Flipboard's nascent brand magazine ad platform, where users can see a display ad that mimics the print version, click on it, and interact with a brand's existing content in a way that is pleasing to the eyes. Quittner notes that this design is intuitive and cites a personal philosophy that "in new media, less is often more. It's about simplicity. Making important choices to strip things down for the best possible experience."

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