Former Politico Heads Are Shaking Up Native Advertising With New Site

Launch partners include PepsiCo and Boeing

Some of the original minds behind Politico are ready to show off their take on a different kind of news site.

Launching today, after the release of three newsletters earlier in the month, (one of which broke the news of Donald Trump's son-in-law joining him as senior adviser) Axios intends to shake up the way native advertising plays out alongside news content. 

Former Politico co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei is now Axios' co-founder and CEO; joining him from Politico is Mike Allen, who is Axios' co-founder and executive editor and Roy Schwartz, who was Politico's chief revenue officer and has the title of president of Axios.

Axios has already lined up 10 launch partners, mostly due to its willingness to go against the current system of long-form native advertising. Some of those partners include PepsiCo, Boeing and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

With a focus on short-form ad content, and subscription packages that could run up to $10,000 annually, Axios hopes to find a new kind of news consumer.

"We are doing serious things, but trying to do it in a voice that digital native people are used to but without falling into the crap trap of dumbing down the content," VendeHei told The Wall Street Journal. "Our audience will be everyone who truly cares about serious news on a daily basis."

The main site will feature short summaries of stories, basically built to be quickly scrolled through, even on your phone.


"In the 10 years after Politico was founded, we spent a lot of time on a 'listening tour,'" Schwartz told Adweek. "Most people leave articles after reading the first 200 words or so."

"With Axios, everything is within the stream, including our short-form ad content," he said.

Schwartz explained that these native ads, which could include a short video clip or simply a short article with an image attached to it, can be produced and introduced into the stream within the same day and at a fraction of the cost. This is something some of their brand partners are excited by, because it allows them to run and test ads all at the same time.

Axios' ads also have the ability to follow storylines while reaching different people; by measuring how long readers dwell on certain ads, Axios can then show them more of what they're interested in.

This is also how its news stream will work. Readers can click 'Read More' to see more stories in that field, and eventually the site will move towards a more personalized experience.

"We're not like Facebook, though," said Schwartz. "We're not creating an echo chamber here because we're not biased. Axios is a way for people to quickly catch up on news, and we'll be sure to push important stories out to everyone."


Schwartz called Axios "platform agnostic," meaning that its links can be easily shared and viewed anywhere; the team learned a lot from its We the People account on Snapchat in how viewers want to choose how to experience their news. Thanks to that knowledge, Axios has also found a way to piece together different parts of the tech behind Facebook's Instant Articles function and create basically a card-like experience on Facebook (think: swiping).

"Long-form native advertising is great for some things, but not everything," he said. "With money moving into the digital ad space, most of that is going to Facebook and Google, which doesn't leave brands with many innovative options at places that will actually work."

"Axios means 'worthy,' and we want to make sure we're worthy of people's trust, time and attention," said Schwartz.

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