Baba Shetty, CEO of The Newsweek Daily Beast Company, has lofty ideas for Newsweek's all-digital relaunch. Formerly an ad exec at Hill Holliday, Shetty will oversee Newsweek's transformation into a subscriber-supported, tablet-first magazine.
Shetty's plan for the Newsweek website, detailed in an interview with Nieman Journalism Lab, is to provide content and design that justify a premium, then introduce a paywall. The company hopes to draw in readers with a metered digital subscription model similar to that of The New York Times.
Beyond the paywall, Shetty is interested in pursuing an ambitious sponsorship model that he hopes will lead to creative advertising.
Newsweek will feature one advertiser per article, in glossy, attention-grabbing spreads. Shetty was inspired by NPR's sponsorship messages, which he sees as "a reasonable exchange between the audience and the brand that sponsors the content."
Shetty eschews what he calls the "tyranny of the pageview," or weighing down content with excessive pagination and banner ads in an effort to generate clicks. Slow-loading pages and distracting ads become cumbersome for the user, he argued, and will drive people away in the long run. Newsweek's redesign will instead follow a user-first model that borrows from aesthetically pleasing sites like Tumblr, Pinterest and Flipboard.
The future of advertising, Shetty said, will be "less and less about what we think of advertising today, and more content that is voluntarily consumed by people because they view it as in some way useful or interesting."