The Atlantic grows to meet demands for ‘substance’

Bucking print’s current downsizing trend, The Atlantic will be raising its rate base with its January/February double issue.

From a guaranteed rate base of 400,000, the monthly’s rate base will jump 12%, to 450,000. Publisher Jay Lauf said he expects to take this shift in stride, noting that the magazine is already delivering, on average, 430,000 to 440,000 copies a month, and that readership numbers in print and online continue to grow.

“We’ve been over-delivering almost all year, so to go to 450 is partly just responding to market demand to magazine,” he noted. “There’s an overall feeling in the country of a return to substance. If you look at the numbers of people who participated in the election and watched the debates or, beyond the political world, the number of people who have signed up for Teach For America or are investigating fair-trade practices, there’s a cultural list in substantive thinking, and that’s what you see The Atlantic fueled by.”  

While the rate base increase calls for a slight widening of The Atlantic’s target audience, Lauf said the quality of the magazine’s base should remain the same: high-earning, well-educated “Influentials.” There will be some pitches made to slightly younger readers.

As part of a lengthy brand overhaul — which included a redesign of the magazine and Web site and a new ad campaign — The Atlantic enlisted circulation marketing consultant Ed Fones to help create new strategies and creative pieces. The goal is to continue the magazine’s growth, possibly leading to another rate base increase in 2009.

Online sign-ups have played a large role in subscription sales, and is currently experimenting with sales buttons in banners and headers as well as with gift options. Online traffic for The Atlantic has grown in the past year, averaging 18.5 million page views and 2.7 million unique visitors a month. Last year, the site averaged 5.2 million page views and 1 million uniques a month.

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