ArcaMax Publishing, Inc.: From the mailbox to the inbox

ArcaMax Publishing staff, left to right: Beau Bishop; Lance Forrest; Bryan White; Scott Wolf, president; Hugh Spain; Tracey Cooper; Richard Young; Charles Strauss; Hayley Nimmo and Joy Mitchell. (Photo by Cathy Welch)

In 2019, it is more likely that the daily news reaches you through the computer than through a traditional newspaper. Thus the news cycle has changed from 24 hours to being almost instantaneous. But what happens to some of the other features which accompanied the newspaper, such as comics, daily horoscopes and puzzles? ArcaMax Publishing, Inc. has stepped in to make sure that these much loved accompaniments do not fall by the wayside.

“We are a platform for publishing and monetizing consumer content by email,” says Scott Wolf, ArcaMax president and CEO. “We license content that people would read historically in the newspaper, including 250 features, 100 of which are comic strips. We build email lists and give that content away, but bring in money by selling advertisements.”

In the online world, ArcaMax is unique in the sense that this business model is the reverse of many similar companies. Most companies will use a newsletter to both drive traffic to its website and retain visitors to the website by reducing the “bounce rate.” At ArcaMax, the newsletter is the main product, and while a website does exist, it does so mostly to serve the newsletter.

The online world is constantly evolving and the business model of ArcaMax has changed as well over the years. “ArcaMax started in 1998 as an e-commerce business, selling software online,” says Wolf. In those early days ArcaMax paid for the type of advertising that it sells today. Around 1999, the company decided that it could save the money spent on advertising by creating its own newsletter and essentially provide its own advertising. The newsletter grew and became popular, eventually drawing the attention of its first client, Providian Bank, who wanted to buy advertising from ArcaMax.

In 2004, the business was divided into an e-commerce side and a publishing side, but within two years the e-commerce side of the business had closed up, creating the business that we see today. However, the company has continued to evolve in many ways. “Three to four years ago I would have said we’re a publishing company building our readership, but now I would say we’re a platform, extending readership through other websites as well. Essentially these are marketing partnerships that we have with 80 different companies,” Wolf says.

“Say someone runs a gardening website, for instance; they will usually have an email list. Oftentimes this email list will not be handled well or will be delegated to the newest, least experienced member of the company. We’ll approach that company and offer to handle its newsletter with greater success, using its branding. The shared advertising revenue is mutually beneficial,” Wolf says.

ArcaMax has begun to partner with many apps as well, all similar to websites in their high rate of viewer attrition. “Seventy five percent of apps are downloaded and then never used again. The successes like Candy Crush are few and far between,” according to Wolf.

One of the challenges that ArcaMax faces, along with similar online publishers, is the prevalence of Gmail. “Sixty percent of our viewers come from Gmail, and we’ve found that Gmail users are the types of readers that we want. They’re smart and engaged, and if they decide that they like your content, they keep coming back,” says Wolf. The problem is getting past the gatekeepers within the technical component of Gmail that make it hard to avoid landing in someone’s junk folder.

“We’ve found that the best way to have success with Gmail is to send quality content that people want to read, and we’ll send an appropriate amount of advertising that will not compromise readership. The Gmail algorithm looks at things such as open rates for email and how long an email is opened or viewed, so having quality content is the best strategy,” Wolf says.

Wolf moved to the Hampton Roads area from California at age 11. He attended high school in York County and received his bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary. Before assuming his role at ArcaMax, he worked in radio. He insists that his role in the success of the company is minimal compared with the role of its 17 team members, 11 of whom work in-house at the Newport News office, and six who work remotely.

Thanks to ArcaMax Publishing, readers can enjoy many technological advancements and the convenience that it brings, without having to say goodbye to old friends like Garfield and Dear Abby.

ArcaMax Publishing, Inc.
Address: 729 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Ste. 1-B, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Scott Wolf, president and CEO
Phone: 757-596-9730 ext. 202

About Christian Chance 17 Articles
Christian was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia, but has lived in the Shenandoah Valley, Richmond, Norfolk and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. One day he would like to live on the rocky coast of Central California, where the surf is plentiful. He is particularly interested in Latin American culture, which led him to major in Spanish at Old Dominion University. He is happiest when he is creating things with his hands, and he is slightly obsessed with music. So his idea of a perfect day would be creating something interesting in the metal shop with his ear buds in, listening to good music.

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