August 11, 2023

Balancing reader experience and sponsor visibility.

👋 Hello newsletter enthusiasts,

It seems like Sponsored Content can be found in nearly every newsletter.

Whether it’s a Silicon Valley company or a local coffee shop, there seems to be a collective nod to connecting (and advertising!) through the newsletter medium.

One thing we particularly enjoy about newsletters, is that it’s not one-size-fits-all.

Newsletters can be as broad as casting a net over global events, or as niche as city-focused happenings. Consider sports: one newsletter might serve up all the happenings, while another zooms in on, say, just the world of tennis.

And for brands, this is prime.

It’s like speaking to an audience where members are already inclined to hear what you have to offer.

Our focus for this deep dive is on 1440, a newsletter that's made waves in the industry. 1440 serves its two million+ readers with “All your news. None of the bias”.

Their approach to sponsorships? Subtle, and a little understated. It's there, but not too distracting.

For those who appreciate numbers, we analyzed the month of July. Some quick stats: 31 newsletters. Over 50,000 words. About 155 minutes of sipping coffee and reading.

🐾 Thank you for reading, stay pawsome.

Visualizing Sponsored Content

To bring our exploration to life and avoid any ambiguity, we've laid out a visual blueprint below.

While our terms may or may not be 1440's own terminology, they're crafted to set a standardized language, ensuring everyone's on the same page:


The Newsletter Newsletter


The Newsletter Newsletter

Observation #1 - ✨ Promoting your own brand and feedback loops

Let’s highlight 1440's strategies to promote reader engagement and build a sense of community.

Content sections

1440’s newsletter curates and categorizes links from various news sources under titles like “One Big Headline”, “Quick Hits”, “Etcetera”, sometimes further branching into subsections. This structuring ensures the content remains readable and easy to navigate.

There is also a balance of promoting internal content combined with avenues for reader feedback, creating a dynamic loop of interaction.

Welcome and feedback

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A constant at the email's top is a welcoming gesture for first-timers with "First time reading? Sign up here." This is flanked by a feedback invitation: “You share. We Listen. As always, send us feedback at”

The consistent positioning of these elements at the top serves as an immediate engagement hook, ensuring new readers have a clear path to join, and existing readers feel heard.

Saturday's Humankind(ness)

A unique feature on Saturdays is the “Humankind(ness)” section.

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It's a section for readers to share acts of kindness they've experienced during the week via Google Form. This ties neatly into the “Humankind” section that showcases uplifting stories about humanity, like the inspiring “Pride Crew” Girl Scout troop for LGBTQ youth.

By dedicating a section to acts of kindness, 1440 creates a feel-good vibe, promoting positive readership engagement. Not only does this section cater to a more human-centric narrative, but it also provides readers with a break from the conventional news format.

Support calls and referral program

Saturdays typically host a “Support 1440’s Mission” callout.

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Meanwhile, weekdays feature: “❤️ Enjoying today’s email? SHARE 1440 WITH A FRIEND.”

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And a “Help share 1440” section, that also mentions their monthly ad-free subscription.

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These sections effectively delve into 1440’s strategies to gain support and expand their readership. The support calls act as gentle nudges, reminding readers of the value they derive from 1440 and urging them to share it with others.

Share via email

If readers choose to share via email, 1440 prefills an email with a subject line and body copy, simplifying the sharing process.

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This implementation reduces friction, increasing the likelihood of referrals.

However, their pre-filled email link includes a "mailto" address that directs to For those unfamiliar with this term, "mailto" is a function that opens the user's email client. A more user-friendly approach might be using “mailto:?subject=” which would lead to a blank recipient field, making sharing slightly more intuitive, unless they want to also receive emails when someone shares 1440 via email.

1440's strategies are effective in promoting reader engagement and community-building, capitalizing on the loyalty of existing readers while appealing to potential new ones.

Their focus on simplicity in sharing and the value of their content over tangible rewards like mugs or apparel, underscores their confidence in the quality of their work. And appeals to the reader’s appreciation of the content, urging them to share the newsletter.

Observation #2 - ⚖️ Balanced integration of Sponsored Content

In our previous deep dive into Morning Brew's sponsored content, we noted an increase in Sponsored Content as readers progressed through the newsletter. However, 1440 adopts a different approach, and seems a little more balanced.

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For both readers and advertisers, 1440’s strategy of interspersing Sponsored Content throughout the newsletter offers distinct advantages. This method of oscillating between editorial and promotional segments keeps the reader's experience fluid and engaging.

1440 doesn’t include many visuals, aside from a Primary sponsors logo or color used in the section headers.

In essence, 1440 seamlessly blends Sponsored Content into its newsletter.

This approach offers sustained reader engagement while ensuring that sponsors enjoy visibility throughout the reading journey.

Observation #3 - 🔁 Sponsorship strategy: Repetition and variation

Repeat sponsors in July

Throughout July, 1440 showcased certain sponsors multiple times, suggesting a possible preferred or premium package for these advertisers.

A standout example is The Ascent, which made its presence felt 10 times.

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The brand chose a variety of placements, featuring nine times as a Secondary sponsor across different subsections and once as a Primary sponsor.

Tailored copy for The Ascent

Each of The Ascent's placements also came with unique copy.

This could indicate a variety of strategies:

  • A desire to continuously test and optimize copy variations.
  • A confidence in their existing performance metrics, allowing for creative freedom.
  • A push for novelty, ensuring that the brand messaging feels fresh with each placement.

Popular placement choices

The "Sports, Entertainment, & Culture" subsection, sitting atop the "In The Know" section, emerged as a popular choice among Secondary sponsors.

The prime position likely draws advertisers hoping for increased engagement from being the first in a new section.

Sponsorship breakdown

For the entire month, The Ascent accounted for ~20% of the Sponsored Content.

Primary sponsors seemed to have a distinct formula: they appeared once at the header, once in the top third, and again in the bottom third. This tri-fold approach was consistent, observed in 100% of weekday newsletters throughout July.

An illustrative example:

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Surfshark featured prominently at the header, then in the top third, followed by the bottom third.

However, weekends brought a subtle shift.

Saturdays often replaced the usual second nod to the Primary sponsor with the “Humankind(ness)” section. Maybe it’s 1440’s way of saying, "Let's have a breather and focus on the feels."

Despite this weekend variation, weekdays remained consistent with the Primary Sponsor getting a third mention in the lower third, underscoring the emphasis 1440 places on these premium brands.

A variety of brands

A noteworthy observation: approximately 58% of the time, readers encountered a new sponsor.

This showcases 1440's varied advertising palette, ensuring that readers experience a broad spectrum of brands, thus minimizing the risk of monotony or brand fatigue.

Observation #4 - 📧 Varied sectors, varied placements

Upon categorizing sponsors under broad industry umbrellas, certain sectors emerged as prominent within the 1440 newsletter:

  • Health: This category stands out, highlighting either the significance of health-related topics to 1440's readership or a broader industry trend toward digital advertising.
  • Finance & Technology: These sectors also frequently sponsor content, attesting to the dominance of these industries in current global dialogues. The sheer number of unique sponsors within these sectors emphasizes their weight in the newsletter.

Sponsored Content placement mirrors the variation

The placement strategy for Sponsored Content within the newsletter subtly mirrors the variety of industries.

Sponsors are not rigidly confined to sections directly related to their industry, suggesting a possible strategy to broaden their reach to a wider audience segment.

For instance, The Ascent, a finance-centric entity, not only features in the expected "Business & Markets" section but also in the more eclectic "Sports, Entertainment & Culture" section.

This strategic positioning might be aimed at capturing a wider audience — those primarily interested in finance and those who might be casual browsers of entertainment content but potential finance enthusiasts.

Observation #5 - 📝 Orchestrating a Sponsorship

Symphony vs. cacophony

Imagine attending a grand symphony. The beauty isn't just in the individual instruments but in how they harmonize, creating a single, cohesive melody.

Now imagine if every musician decided to play a different tune simultaneously.

Chaos, right?

That’s the difference between a well-curated newsletter and a haphazard combination of content. Like a symphony, newsletters must strike the right balance, ensuring each section and the type of content complements the other.

1440's conductor approach

1440 takes on the role of a meticulous conductor, orchestrating its content with precision.

1440 specifically mentions, “High quality is a requirement”.

They want it to resonate throughout their newsletter, Sponsored Content or not, aligning every note and ensuring no section falls out of tune.

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Their Standards page is a testament to their commitment to integrity and quality.

It's not merely about playing the loudest or the most popular tune; it's about delivering a melody that resonates with the ethos of the brand.

With a proclamation like, “A news source made for knowledge. Not clicks.” they've clearly defined their sound.

Hitting the right notes with sponsors

While the specifics of how they curate or reshape Sponsored Content is unknown, it's evident that 1440 isn’t keen on compromising their core melody.

The emphasis seems to be on creating a newsletter where every note, every piece of content, whether editorial or sponsored, harmonizes with 1440’s foundational tune: delivering “facts without motives”.

What do you think? Feel free to send us an email and we may feature some comments from readers in the next newsletter!

Observation #6 - 📎 Cultivating authentic sponsorships

How does 1440 gather sponsorship requests?

One way is via email footer

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In the footer of 1440 emails there is a hyperlink that takes you to a Google Form. There are a variety of questions, but one that stood out to us was “Are you subscribed to 1440?”

This mention underlines 1440’s preference for sponsors who understand and value their content – a genuine partner rather than just an advertiser – and reflects the language of “Partner With Us”. Or they might just be curious.

Another way is via website footer

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Unlike the form found in the email footer, the website doesn't ask if you are subscribed to 1440. Instead, it delves deeper into the potential sponsor's objectives with questions like: “Overall goal of the partnership”.

The varied budget options and timeframes offered add another layer of depth, indicating a flexibility in accommodating different sponsorship models.

More than just a form

It's not just about getting details – it's about setting expectations.

On their website, 1440 paints a picture of their brand equity: “1440 earns the trust of subscribers every day.” And with a confident nudge, they add: “Let’s talk about how your values-aligned brand can be seen by 2.7M of them.”

This serves a dual purpose: enticing sponsors with their reach, yet emphasizing alignment in values.

Handing over the rulebook

1440 subtly directs potential sponsors to their Standards page.

This isn't just about transparency; it's about integrity.

They want potential partners to understand, right from the start, the ethos they uphold. It’s akin to sharing a code of conduct, ensuring both parties are aligned in their approach.

1440's sponsorship approach is an example in balance. They gracefully merge user experience with transparency, making it clear that while they value sponsors, they prioritize the trust of their newsletter community.

Observation #7 - 🧪 Test and iterate

As always, what one newsletter does may not yield the same results for another newsletter.

Each newsletter, and each audience, is unique!

Think of it like a recipe.

The same ingredients can yield different results depending on the chef, the audience (or eaters, in this analogy) and even the day!

Testing and iterating can help you get closer to understanding more about your audience. What resonates with them, what doesn’t, etc.

And remember, it's a journey of discovery, not a destination.

So, roll up those sleeves, put on those thinking hats and let the testing, iteration and experiments begin!

🔑 Key observations

  • Strategic placement: 1440 employs a balanced distribution of Sponsored Content throughout their newsletter, and is not too distracting from the content. This ensures consistent sponsor visibility and enhances reader experience.
  • Selective sponsorship: With repeated features of certain sponsors and the prevalence of some industries, 1440 demonstrates a symbiotic relationship with advertisers that align with their content and readership. Their ad mix further ensures that readers aren't oversaturated with repetitive content.
  • Quality commitment: 1440's emphasis on maintaining a high standard, even for Sponsored Content, underscores their dedication to editorial integrity. Their explicit standards and guiding principles suggest a rigorous vetting or collaboration process with sponsors to maintain this quality.
  • Engagement insight: The manner in which sponsors are positioned and repeated suggests that 1440 leverages insights into reader engagement patterns. Strategic placements at the beginnings of certain sections and consistent mentions for Primary sponsors point to data-informed decisions.
  • Partnership approach: The emphasis on “Partner with us” indicates 1440’s intent to build partnerships with sponsors rather than just transactional engagements.

In summary, 1440’s approach to sponsorship signifies a blend of strategic planning, audience understanding and unwavering commitment to content quality. It’s a model that prioritizes both reader trust and sponsor value.

Until next week, keep those tails wagging!

Want us to deep dive on a newsletter? Or maybe feature your newsletter in an upcoming newsletter? Email us.

🎾 Fetchworthy Finds

🐶 Pawsitive vibes

💌 Thanks for joining the pack of newsletter enthusiasts! Keep on reading, writing and sharing your newsletters with the world.

We’re also trying something a little new this week. We thought we’d include this reminder for you:

Never be afraid of being different. It's your superpower.

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🎉 Have a great week!

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