The Atlantic Says Digital Share Of ’09 Ad Revs Doubled Thanks To Branding Campaigns


Most major print magazines get far less than a quarter of their revenues from digital, but The Atlantic says it is now well above that mark. Online ad dollars now comprise 32 percent of current affairs pub’s total revenue, thanks, it says, to a resurgence of branding campaigns in the latter half of the year. According to Jay Lauf (pictured, left), VP/publisher of the print mag and its website, that’s about double what the company did last year; he declined to offer specific dollar amounts for the private company. Sources at the magazine said digital revenues are in the high-single-digit millions, a departure from the days when a few hundred thousand dollars was good enough for The Atlantic.

The Atlantic’s latest figures come during a time of rising hopes for publishers. While a complete turnaround is unlikely, this year is apt to be less painful than 2009. A big part of The Atlantic’s online ad growth as a percentage of total revenues was due to falling ad pages. According to the Publisher’s Information Bureau, between January and September, The Atlantic‘s print ad pages dropped 18.2 percent. As ad pages come back, it will be interesting to see what happens to that 32 percent figure.

Lauf says there was a “275 percent gain” in digital revs in Q409 versus Q408. That high number also is boosted by the fairly small amount of ad dollars the site attracted last year. But Lauf also said The Atlantic made greater use of larger, Online Publisher Association ad formats and focused more on integrating campaigns with the magazine’s content and around its high-profile bloggers like Andrew Sullivan.

The Atlantic signed more than 50 new digital advertisers in 2009, with a number of the programs rooted in customized, integrated campaigns and other beyond-the-banner programs,” Lauf said. The Porsche-sponsored “Ask Andrew” series featuring blogger Andrew Sullivan, that had the carmaker’s brand garlanding display ads containing reader questions. Another marketer, Shell Oil, sent a roving reporter serving in-ad videos the included interviews with energy experts from The Atlantic

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