On Monday, The New Yorker announced its Web traffic is up 25 percent compared to last year. After taking down its paywall last year, and putting it back up again in March 2015, the brand's latest numbers indicate that the sudden spike in pageviews wasn’t a fluke.
One of the key signs that the magazine’s year-old metered paywall has proved effective is subscriptions to NewYorker.com are up 61 percent compared to 2014.
However, The New Yorker is not the first magazine to find success with this model. Other brands in recent years, such as The Atlantic, have found notable growth in traffic and subscriptions going down the same path.
TheAtlantic.com set an all-time audience record in September, surpassing 25 million unique visitors in a month. They did this, in spite of a paywall, by adding additional features.
Looking back on the readership spike in March, NewYorker.com editor Nicholas Thompson told Nieman Lab the effects of the “Summer of Free” were unexpected.
“It wasn’t a massive increase in readers between July and November. There was an increase, but there wasn’t a massive increase,” Thompson said. “What’s weird is we launched the paywall, and then there was a massive increase.”
Poynter reports that, in recent months, The New Yorker has tried several different approaches to lure a wider audience to its website without resorting to tactics that might dilute the quality of its content. These tactics include growing its copy desk to speed up the Web publishing process, adjusting its social media strategy and optimizing its stories for discovery by search engines like Google.
Moving forward though, Thompson explains that The New Yorker's main strategy for growing audience will be to publish more, better stories.