The Atlantic has relaunched its "opinion digest" -The Atlantic Wire-expanding the focus to news aggregation. "Rather than just aggregating opinions around the news, we’ll be aggregating the news itself," says president Justin Smith.
The move includes hiring former Gawker and Newsweek digital editor Gabriel Snyder to head up Atlantic Wire as well as plans to double the amount of staff devoted to The Atlantic Wire to 15.
The Atlantic Wire is ad-supported and features two launch sponsors in Chevy Volt and Cargill. Advertising will be sold strictly for the Wire and also as a package with Atlantic.com, according to Smith. "The audiences of the Wire and Atlantic.com have less than 5 percent duplication," he says. "We’re putting a lot of emphasis on custom integrated marketing initiatives. Our team is looking at ‘beyond the banner’ programs to integrate brands and their campaigns.
At 18 months old, The Atlantic Wire generates about one million uniques per month and Atlantic.com generates 5 million uniques. With Andrew Sullivan, a core member of The Atlantic’s "dream team of bloggers" (and a 2009 member of the FOLIO: 40) departing for News Beast, some observers have wondered what this means for Atlantic.com considering Sullivan accounted for about 1 million of those 5 million monthly uniques.
"As sad as we are too lose Andrew, we’re not anticipating a major dip," says Smith. "In the last few months we’ve launched Atlantic Technology, which generates about one million uniques and a new photography blog that did a quarter of a million uniques in its first month. With so many new areas of the site, we’re anticipating growth in 2011 even with the loss of Andrew."
The Atlantic Not Ready for a Metered Model Yet
Meanwhile, Smith says The Atlantic is not ready to shift to a paid content model online yet. In January, the publisher said it was going back to the drawing board on its idea for a premium iPad App (dubbed The Atlantic Premium). The original concept would have offered a daily bundle of its online content for a monthly fee (The Atlantic sells single issues on the iPad for $4.99).
"We’re taking a step back on our entire mobile/digital strategy and revisiting everything right now," says Smith. "We’re looking at the data from our apps so far and it begs the strategic question of whether we would consider any kind of metered model on the Web site. We’re not ready to make that decision at this point. Our current high-CPM, ad-supported model is working."