Quartz’s chief innovation officer Daniel Alvarez says native advertising is just as likely to grab audiences as editorial work of similar quality even among an audience like the business publication's, which is educated, affluent and executive-level.

“As long as it’s an interesting and great piece of content, we can get similar engagement even if it has that sponsored marking,” Alvarez said Tuesday during a discussion on media innovation at the 10th PRovokeGlobal PR Summit Tuesday.

In the far-reaching conversation, Alvarez, along with PRovoke Media chief product officer/executive editor Aarti Shah, explored the array of means Quartz uses to engage its readers and ultimately convert them into becoming paid members of the organization — something that media companies are still coming up to speed on. 

"You find media companies that don’t know what product management is or how to approach it," he said.

Most of Quartz's efforts revolve around providing top-tier content, be it editorial or sponsored, that speaks to the interests of Quartz’s readers, who Alvarez describes as “a pretty attractive group” for advertisers. (Although Quartz has seen “a small uptick” in PR-driven campaigns they are a “small portion” of the publication’s overall base, he said).

“The type of clients that typically come from Quartz are naturally aligned with some of the things we strive to have as a brand,” he said.

Quartz's Obsessions feature, for instance, features stories surrounding “defining topics of seismic importance to the global economy” such as technology, consumer preferences, the climate economy and fixing capitalism among them.

“We are always experimenting and seeing what kind of content leads to conversion,” he said.

“When it comes to what we see as interesting topics that drive conversion to our membership business, we tend to see tech consumer trends. Work advice for parts of work is always something that resonates well, and explanatory topics of macro trends.”

Alvarez also noted the importance of providing content that readers are realistically able to consume given impediments like time constraints. “Deep analysis doesn’t have to be long,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez has also spent much of this year building the foundation of a data strategy that will be rolled out in full in the year ahead as Quartz looks to build even stronger relationships with readers.  “Next year is going to be everything our first-party data strategies allow us to do,” he said.

“We are asking for information … and translating it to better experiences for (readers) on our site or things we might build in the future,” he said, noting that Quartz does so with full transparency.

“Every time we ask for information from our readers, we make sure it is done with their consent.”