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Digital Audience Case Study: The New Yorker

Posted on Sunday, November 29, 2015 at 10:17 PM

In the news: How a temporary paywall lift and emphasis on editorial quality paid off for a prominent magazine.

Some media pundits were skeptical last year when The New Yorker took down its paywall for several months, offering readers broad access to its current and archived content. The idea behind the move was to expand the magazine's digital audience, and it worked. While digital audience grew only slightly during the "Summer of Free," it skyrocketed once the paywall went back up.

Just how successful was the gamble? According to Poynter.org, "The New Yorker announced its Web traffic is up 25 percent compared to the previous year. Readers are shelling out $12 for a 12-week online subscription, too. Subscriptions to NewYorker.com are up 61 percent compared to 2014, an indicator that the magazine's year-old metered paywall has proved effective."

While it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why the "Summer of Free" worked, the magazine's focus on quality is likely a factor. While many magazine, book, and newspaper publishers are scaling back on copy editing (or outsourcing it to freelancers), The New Yorker has recently added two new copy editors to its copy desk. Read more here.

Also Notable

Editorial Transparency for Native Content

Many top fashion magazines are using native content to increase revenue, but that doesn't mean that they're not concerned about media ethics. Recently, top editors from Harper's Bazaar, Glamour, InStyle, and Editorialist discussed the issue at the annual Fashion + Design Conference. Read what the editors had to say here.

Another Possible Spotify for Magazines

British magazine veteran Matthew Hammett will soon launch Readbug, a Spotify-like service offering up smaller indie and cult magazine titles. Hammett's objective, according to a recent TechCrunch write-up: "[D]eliberately 'handpicking and curating' the titles it wants to repackage and distribute on its platform in order to establish its own editorial voice -- as well it must to stand a chance of pulling eyeballs in an era of free info overload." Read more here.

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