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A Q&A with Axios’ Sara Kehaulani Goo on bundling newsletters as an audience engagement strategy

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A Q&A with Axios’ Sara Kehaulani Goo on bundling newsletters as an audience engagement strategy

Bundling appears to be the new strategy for newsletter publishers like Axios that are hoping to lock in loyal readers.

In March, Axios decided to package its AM and PM newsletters, along with the newly launched, end-of-day newsletter called Finish Line, in one bundle called the Daily Essentials. The idea was that people reading one or the other of the daily news products would already be reading — or at least interested in — the other product as well, so it made sense to make the sign-up process a one-step ordeal, versus two or three.

After seeing how the transition to the Daily Essentials model increased open rates and avoided a substantial decrease in number of subscribers to the newsletters, (the company declined to share subscriber totals or open rates to the individual products in its portfolio) Axios editor-in-chief Sara Kehaulani Goo said bundling became a strategy to test in other topic categories, with the business category being tapped as the first extension of this editorial initiative. 

This week, the Business Suite launched with the Markets newsletter going out in the morning, the new Macro newsletter going out around lunchtime, and the Closer newsletter going out after the markets close on the East Coast in the afternoons. In addition, a weekend edition of the Markets issue will go out on Saturdays. Those uninterested in receiving all three newsletters can still sign up for the individual products themselves.

Axios’s audience has reached a total of 2.5 million email subscribers across all of its newsletter products, with an average open rate of about 41%, according to the company. But as the newsletter space begins to reach a saturation point in the number of products on the market, there is also a pressure for publishers like Axios, to create a regular habit in its readers to come back day in and day out to lock in that brand affinity.

Below are highlights from the conversation with Kehaulani Goo, which have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Where did the idea for the Macro newsletter come from? 

We brought in some really great talent and built up our business team over the past year, including hiring Neil Irwin from The New York Times. He’s one of the most well-known, well-respected journalists covering macroeconomics and he’s got an impressive Rolodex [of sources in this space]. We really want to find a good place for him to showcase the work he’s been contributing to markets and what we came up with was a way to more regularly provide his analysis and insight. 

The two [business] newsletters we currently have — Markets and Closer — are really telling you what’s happening throughout the day about various movements in the markets, from the S&P [to] real estate markets [to] crypto, and Neil and Courtenay [Brown’s] focus is macro to give you something different in the mix. 

That’s a little bit the strategy behind the bundle as well, which is, you’re going to get that bigger picture, zoomed out analysis to understand, for example, how to think about the interest rate numbers that came out this morning and what they could mean for the economy and policy. It’s filling out the other business news and information we’re going to give you throughout the day.

Our team has grown and is incredibly collaborative.

Sara Kehaulani Goo, editor-in-chief, Axios

How collaborative are the writers and editors on bundled products? Since Macro plans to add a layer of analysis to news that Markets and Closer cover during the day, will the teams be working together to orchestrate the daily coverage of the Business Suite?

Our team has grown and is incredibly collaborative. They’re talking all day long in Slack channels about the news that’s happening and really rely on each other for ideas and stories. There’s a lot of collaboration in the newsletters [each one being] primarily written by two journalists, but you see a lot of them working together [with] double bylines and sharing content for sure. Each one of them brings something different, just like in any newsroom. We’ve got specialists in explaining really niche parts of the market that the rest of us need to understand in a bigger way, [in] the bigger picture of the global economy. 

What have you learned from the Daily Essentials bundle that made you want to replicate this bundling model for business? 

Our experience with Daily Essentials gave us a lot of confidence that this is the right direction to move into because we didn’t see a lot of dropoff [in subscribers once we combined those email lists]. In fact, we saw much higher engagement. So our bet is that most folks who are subscribing to at least one of these newsletters probably would really enjoy getting even more. And I think we’ve differentiated the content enough throughout a day, that a day’s worth of emails [feels like] added value.

Our bet is that most folks who are subscribing to at least one of these newsletters probably would really enjoy getting even more.

Sara Kehaulani Goo

A great example of that was when we started the Finish Line newsletter [in March]. It’s a two-minute read or less and it’s delivered in the evening when we know a lot of people check their email before they go to bed. It was designed [around our hunch that] what they want to read is probably not some depressing bit of news, so we really thought about the content and how we could serve the audience better. This was a gamble [to have] a politics-free zone and a news-free zone, but [provide] information that could help them feel good about the world and we came up with a concept that had some insights from leadership with founders and then we also wanted to hit health and wellness in a broader sense. And that response has been like no other newsletter we’ve ever launched. 

[Macro] is not going to be like Finish Line in terms of the personal content, but what it is going to be is short. The morning [Markets] and afternoon [Closer] newsletters in the Business Suite will be six or so items long, and Macro is going to be much shorter in length. If we’re going to give you an email about markets in the morning when you wake up that [covers] what happened the night before or what’s going to happen today in terms of daily news, Macro is going to be different in that it’s going to help you get some perspective and understand the economy policy world a little bit better. 

I’ve heard some media buyers alluding to the idea that the media market has reached a saturation point in newsletter products. Not only could this affect advertising revenue, but it does threaten the portion of audiences that newsletter publishers can convince to subscribe to their products. Is this topic-specific bundling strategy a value-add tactic to get audiences further embedded into Axios’ products versus the competition?

When we’re thinking about [the Business Suite] as a product, we’re trying to be audience first. We have so many newsletters, if somebody is subscribed to [Axios Markets], there’s a good chance that they’re probably interested in the wider coverage that we have. What I just saw was we had a bunch of newsletters that seemed to be speaking to the same audience, but you have to subscribe to them separately. Wouldn’t it make sense if we worked together a little bit differently and thought about how we’re hitting our audience with the information they need in a more organized way? 

Wouldn’t it make sense if we worked together a little bit differently and thought about how we’re hitting our audience with the information they need in a more organized way?

Sara Kehaulani Goo

I think that we aren’t in as difficult a space, perhaps, as some others who are just in the newsletter space or just have one approach and one product. As a startup, we want to be really creative and pivot and where we see opportunities that we know will pay off from an audience perspective, from a journalism perspective and from a financial perspective. Everybody is concerned about what’s going to happen with the economy in the future, but I think that this approach that we have at least insulates us, or buffers some of that concern going into the second half of the year.

Does this bundling strategy offer any new monetization opportunities that the individual newsletter products might not currently have? 

We’re trying to make it more clear to readers that we’re more than just about politics, which is maybe the way some people thought of our brand when we first got started, but we have so much more to offer. And that makes sense from the revenue perspective too. It makes more sense than trying to sell these individual newsletters. Are you going to read this one in the morning, but not another one in the afternoon? I think it makes sense from all those things combined to say, this is an important area we’ve invested in, we think our audience is going to love what we have lined up for them every single day, and it expands our week more with the content we’re delivering to them. And from the sponsorship perspective, they understand that this audience is [reading] our flagship suites of newsletters, and they’ll want to be part of that, I would hope. I think that does sound pretty logical.

Are there other newsletter bundles on the horizon that Axios will be launching?

We don’t have anything ready to go next but we do want to think about the saturation and be mindful of that. [We want to] think about opportunities to consolidate like into more higher frequency products where it makes sense, but we don’t have anything planned right away.

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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