Today, The Atlantic Wire is rebranding as it spins off (in title, at least) from parent The Atlantic. From now on, the 4-year-old news aggregation site will be known simply as The Wire as it adopts a broader editorial mandate and gets a dedicated sales staff.
Rebranding The Wire as a standalone site is consistent with the strategy that Atlantic Media took with recent launches Quartz and Defense One, and The Atlantic Cities channel may eventually follow suit. “The Atlantic incubated these brands, but once they create a dedicated and consistent audience and marketers start to reconcile them [outside of The Atlantic], I think there is some benefit to having a standalone brand,” The Atlantic president M. Scott Havens said.
Under edior Gabriel Snyder, who joined from Gawker in 2011, The Wire will expand its coverage to include a bigger range of topics, add more news coverage and possibly more original reporting. The site’s staff is expected to double in size from its current 15 people to around 30.
The Wire will have a dedicated sales and marketing team for the first time. Cadillac is the site's exclusive sponsor for the first week of the relaunch.
Like Atlantic Media's other sites, the Wire is trying to set itself up to take advantage of advertisers' growing interest in branded content. A new ad product rolling out later this year, Brand Boost, will let advertisers drop in real-time content pulled from their own social platforms, like Instagram photos, tweets, YouTube videos or Facebook posts. Brand Boost content will be viewable on The Wire’s mobile as well as desktop versions.
“Brands are creating more content, they’re creating more on social platforms, and they’re investing more into native ad solutions…and this allows them to leverage what they’re already spending money on,” said Havens, adding that the display ads that Brand Boost space will occupy are a declining share of The Atlantic’s business.
The site's new design takes into account social media's growing role as a driver of traffic to the site. The site’s main menu of channels and departments is hidden in a pull-down menu at the top of the page. As readers navigate more from social media and links within stories than from channel landing pages, displaying those channels on every page became less necessary, Havens said.
The rest of the home page will be customizable, with stories viewable in order of most recent, popular or trending, and by list or grid. At some point, Havens said, he’d like the site to be able to predict what its readers are interested in, à la Prismatic or Zite.