When you finally reach the goal you’ve been working so hard to achieve, what happens next? That’s exactly what we asked the editor-in-chief of Digital Trends, Andrew Martonik. Recently, his publication was named the #1 tech news and information website by the third-party media measurement firm, Comscore. This is a first for Digital Trends, and is a recognition of the hard work and dedication Andrew and his team made to transform the publication from one of many, to the top technology news site in the U.S.
Racepoint Global’s Katie Baleno talked with Andrew to learn how he guided his team to achieve the top spot in this renowned list of media leaders. We also asked his perspective on what’s to come in the ever changing tech media landscape.
Katie Baleno (KB): What was your initial reaction when you learned Digital Trends was named the number one tech news site by Comscore?
Andrew Martonik (AM): I was not expecting it. Not because I didn’t feel we deserved it, but because as a publication, that kind of recognition has always been our goal. There come moments where you think you’ll never reach that point. There are just so many other sites that are huge and that we respect a ton, and in our position, we were always pulling out the measuring stick and saying ‘look, we’re a little closer, just a little bit more to go.’ It’s all a third-party measurement process, so when I learned we reached this major milestone, it was a total surprise. I didn’t actually know what to say, because I hadn’t prepared for what I would do when we actually reached the goal we were working so hard to achieve. If I had planned better, I would have had a well-written email drafted to blast out to everyone on staff, but instead, I was in shock. And first and foremost, just incredibly proud of the team.
KB: When you became editor-in-chief, did you have a goal to transform Digital Trends into what it is today? What was your strategy coming in, and what is your strategy moving forward?
AM: My strategy has changed over time. I think if you’re in our industry and you haven’t made changes over the last two years, you’ve fallen behind. Things have been changing faster than at any point in my career, especially back in 2021 when I was just getting started as editor-in-chief. At that point, Digital Trends wasn’t as strong as we are today, and there was a lot to wrap my head around.
It was a pivotal moment: We had just come out of the height of the pandemic when everyone was staying at home and spending time online. Digital Trends and other tech publications saw a major rise in activity and engagement because people were suddenly more interested in technology when it became the most accessible and safest way to communicate, be entertained, and get work done. So once 2021 rolled around and the ‘new normal’ set in, we saw this momentum die down. It was then that I took a step back and looked at the situation from a new lens with one major question: how do we simplify things? I knew we needed to get back to the core of what Digital Trends is about.
We had spent a lot of time building our site to reach our aspirations for investigative journalism, multimedia productions, new media packages, but what our audience wanted was something simpler. Trusted, detailed journalism about the most interesting and impactful stories in technology. We went from everyone on the team wearing a million hats, to a more focused approach with an editorial leader on each topic and section. This cut down on distractions and allowed us to deliver higher quality content on the topics our audience cared about most, in a more efficient way.
KB: From the PR side, we also saw a shift in 2021. The topic of the pandemic and the new normal had been exhausted, and we needed to re-evaluate the landscape to be good storytellers. On the journalism side of things, what was your biggest takeaway from this point in time?
AM: The biggest takeaway, which we brought with us into 2022 and beyond, was that we don’t need to be a part of every discussion that may tangentially be about tech. We shouldn’t try to come up with an angle for every business development or national event. Instead, let’s talk about what our audience comes to us for: a fresh perspective on tech-related topics that matter to end users. Our roots are grounded as a team of nerds – and I mean that in the most admiring way – talking about the technology we’re most interested in, and we’ve come to realize there are a lot of readers out there who are interested in the same things we are, with the same level of passion.
KB: The tech media landscape has greatly changed over the last few years, just as has the innovation that drives the news cycle. From your perspective, what changes have had the most impact for your team?
AM: The biggest change in the landscape is that media outlets are no longer trying to do everything all at once. For a while, it seemed like we all felt pressure to puff out our chests and become some multinational media brand, even if our outlet’s roots were just in tech. That was once the trend. But when we scaled back a few years ago — and got honest with ourselves about our strengths as a publication — we saw the industry follow suit over time. You’ll always want to get bigger and better, but we’re seeing time and time again that streamlining and simplifying pays off and the current trend is much more in line with our approach.
KB: What technology trends do you think will have the most profound impact in the future?
AM: Of course, I have to mention AI. I think we’re going to start hitting the other side of the interest curve here soon. News around AI innovation is calming down a bit, which I find really exciting actually because this means the innovation is becoming more integrated into our everyday lives and having the impact it’s meant to have. We’re leaving the early hype cycle of AI and are asking how this is actually going to work now that we have this technology at our disposal. When AI is truly integrated, it won’t be talked about like its own feature – it’ll be enabling new products and experiences.
Outside of AI, I’m really excited about the roadmap on the hardware side and how incredibly small and efficient all kinds of chips are getting. Intel just made a lot of big announcements around 2nm chipsets, and MediaTek is creating SoCs 4nm and smaller – an incredible level of innovation. And just like the AI conversation, chips are seeming to fall into the background more in news cycles, and that’s because they’re so integrated into our day-to-day. From a nerdy standpoint, we’re still going to talk about the speeds and specs, but because the chip processes have become so advanced across the board, the type of chip becomes less important to the end consumer as they can expect great performance regardless of the SoC. Instead of worrying about basic speeds and efficiency, we can start focusing on new features and new use cases that chips enable. That’s the fun part of tech, and that’s what our readers want to hear about: how these products are going to impact their day-to-day lives.
KB: Digital Trends just achieved a major milestone. Where do you see the publication going from here?
AM: Strategy-wise, we are going to stay the course, but throw some fuel on the fire. We’re enjoying the gains from the groundwork of simplification and focus that we laid years ago, and I want to maintain this momentum. I want to be able to go even deeper into the existing topics that we cover, and reach out to that same kind of audience in more places. We want to be available to readers wherever they want to consume our content. So while we will stay true to our roots and expertise in tech topics, I would love to expand on social media, through newsletters, and possibly totally new avenues.