The Atlantic, a 155 year old publication, has been through an existential crisis for the past several years, but with the rise of the internet has found an opportunity to reinvent itself from a magazine to a platform. The Atlantic president Scott Havens spoke to the 2013 INMA World Congress on what steps The Atlantic took, and continues to take, to rethink their digital advertising model. He said diversification is key, that ad and circulation sales are not enough. Havens said they’ve moved away from selling advertising to providing advertising solutions. These ads match with The Atlantic’s mission of taking a non-partisan approach to big issues. Much of The Atlantic’s success can be attributed to assembling world class talent, understanding their brand DNA and culture, as well as developing their digital strategy, Haven said.
“We actually believe that without the diversification of revenue streams, we don’t have a chance.” - M. Scott Havens
“You’re often criticized for doing these innovative things. And on Twitter and Facebook, in a matter of moments, there’s very little you can do other than state your case. So, you just have to deal with it, and if you’ve got the right model and believe in yourself, in your model, then you’ve got to keep moving forward.” - M. Scott Havens
- The Atlantic has moved away from selling advertising to providing advertising solutions.
- Advertising and circulation sales are not enough, diversification is key.
M. Scott Havens, President of The Atlantic, grabs the audiences attention in his speech on rethinking the digital advertising model.
Before becoming President of Atlantic Media, M. Scott Havens was senior vice president of finance and digital operations. As president, he works with the publication’s editorial, sales and tachnology teams. His responsibilities include print, online and live events, as well as The Atlantic Wire and The Atlantic Cities websites.
The greatest challenge at The Atlantic is changing the image from a magazine to a platform.
“To actually move forward, we had to rethink what we were doing and reposition The Atlantic,” said Scott Havens, president of The Atlantic.
The magazine as a product is still profitable on a product line basis. However, the addition of the AtlanticLIVE, Atlantic Cities, and the Atlantic Wire have repositioned the brand in a diverse way, Havens said.
“We actually believe that without the diversification of revenue streams, we don’t have a chance,” he said.
The Atlantic also critically considered its advertising model, focused on distinctions between premium and custom content, as well as open up the opportunities for monetization as the audience grows.
The advertising model at The Atlantic is built off key concepts that Havens introduced for increased revenue. They are:
- Create engaging content.
- Focus on smart distribution and social amplification.
- Embrace a platform-agnostic approach.
“The first thing that’s really important is creating interesting content,” Havens said about his first key to better advertising.
The results of this restructuring of the advertising model were positive, according to Havens. The audience has grown by 27 million visitors across three sites. In addition, revenue at The Atlantic is up about 80% in the last five years.
“It is possible to create a sustainable business model around great journalism,” he said.
Looking into the future, Havens said The Atlantic will be launching its first digital paid product in two weeks. The brand is also working on making The Atlantic a more internationally accessible product.
The new rules of the advertising model that Havens presented include respecting the brand’s legacy while focusing on the future, acting like a media disruptor, and not being afraid to take risks.
“You’re often criticised for doing these innovative things,” Havens said. “And on Twitter and Facebook, in a matter of moments, there’s very little you can do other than state your case.
“So, you just have to deal with it. And if you’ve got the right model and believe in yourself, in your model, then you’ve got to keep moving forward.”