Print and online pair for greater circulation

Share this content:
Print and online pair for greater circulation
Print and online pair for greater circulation

The Atlantic, a monthly magazine reporting on public affairs and culture, is the most recent big-name title to drop its Web site's paid firewall. Until Janu­ary 22, only allowed paying subscribers access to much of its online content. Now, anyone with a Web browser can read anything on, including the maga­zine's archives.

The Atlantic joins an impressive roster of titles that have dropped Web site restric­tions in recent months: The Economist, The New York Times and the Financial Times are in the same boat, and Rupert Murdoch is said to be considering the same model for The Wall Street Journal.

If readers can get any content for free online, should the print industry be wor­ried? Justin B. Smith, president of Atlantic Consumer Media, thinks the move will help The Atlantic grow its audience both online and in print.

“The Atlantic expects to increase its print circulation and Web audience over the coming years and sees the move as central to its overall growth strategy,” he says. “Also, lowering the firewall doesn't pre­clude developing Web-based subscription products in the future for either Web or print readers.”

Jane Giles, director of business develop­ment at Cambey & West, agrees that the free online model, if used correctly, can encourage growth across a title. She points out that many online publications ask for an e-mail address from users, either to register with the site or to e-mail favorite articles to friends.

“That's the secret right there, and once they get the e-mail, and once they get that lead, then that's the best prospect they could get in the world,” she says. “So they can go out, and then they can market all their other paid products.”

The issue, then, is how online and print, free and paid, can complement each other to build subscription rates, ad sales, and reader satisfaction. The Atlantic editor in chief, James Bennet, points out in a state­ment that had languished for years because it was used mainly as a marketing tool for the print product.

By adding bloggers and video, the site came into its own, more than tripling its traffic and boasting 308,000 unique visi­tors in December 2007. The print maga­zine has held on to a paid circulation of close to 400,000.

The Financial Times has seen similar suc­cess with its payment model, instituted in October 2007. Users can read five articles a month on before being asked to register and up to 30 without subscribing. Both online traffic and print circulation rose for the FT in 2007.

“We don't want to have a model that splits the content into free or paid, imply­ing it's almost like two different products,” explains Tom Glover, senior communica­tions manager at the Financial Times. “It's not a one-size-fits-all model. Some users want to have unlimited access and think it's worth paying our reasonable subscrip­tion price, some people are happy with a slightly less engaged relationship until such time as they decide they want more. It's not a zero-sum game. We can have both grow.”

Free online content doesn't have to compete with paid content — online or in print. Rather, free content can be used to gather leads for selling paid content.

Leslie Guarnieri, circulation director for Discover Magazine, said opening its site for free browsing had no effect on print subscription rates.

“In addition to testing creative and pricing, we are planning on back-testing subscriber-only access for various sec­tions,” Guarnieri said.

Titles with strong content can leverage the attraction of free content — along with the e-mail addresses collected from site users — to sell more focused and more exclusive brand elements.”

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Since 1985, Melissa has helped thousands of companies clean, correct and complete contact data to better target and communicate with their customers. We offer a full spectrum of data quality solutions, including global address, phone, email, and name validation, identify verification - available for batch or real-time processes, in the Cloud or on-premise. Our service bureau provides dedupe, email/phone append and geographic/demographic append services for better targeting and insight. For direct mailers, Melissa offers easy-to-use address management/postal software, list hygiene services and 100s of specialty mailing lists - all with competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above