Mag Spotlight--The Atlantic Monthly

by , Sep 17, 2004, 12:00 AM
  • Comment
  • Recommend (1)
Subscribe to Magazine Rack


Back when The Atlantic Monthly Publisher Elizabeth Baker Keffer started at the magazine roughly five years ago, her conversations with advertisers were often discouraging. "They'd say, 'I haven't read The Atlantic since college,' or 'I haven't looked at The Atlantic in a while,'" she said.

"It hadn't had a lot of investment in a while, and it has become more literary, more academic," said Keffer of the magazine's editorial product at that time, just after David G. Bradley bought the nearly sesquicentennial title from Mort Zuckerman in 1999.

While Bradley vowed to improve the relevancy of the editorial product, Keffer and her staff made a concerted effort to break out of the "commodity" business that ad pages had become.

That meant enhancing The Atlantic's version of added value for advertisers, leveraging her and David's marketing expertise. The magazine now acts as a part-time consulting firm, conducting research and presenting case studies for partners on topics such as ROI and targeting C-level executives.

They also arrange special events, including dinners and seminars with members of academia and the Washington, D.C. elite. Such events, which Keffer refers to as a "money can't buy experience," are credited for bringing in some new advertising revenue.

"We will help you in your job," she said. "We are becoming known for that."

But improving the quality of the magazine was still key. "That is at the core of the advertising resurgence," she said.

During the last few years, the magazine has brought in more editorial talent, become more topical while incorporating more humor.

It has paid off. In the last year, "we've been getting a lot of press attention," Keffer said, pointing to recent cover stories on the United States' pre-war strategy, "Blind Into Baghdad," and a piece penned by deposed New York Times Publisher Howell Raines.

The combination of consulting services and attention-grabbing editorial has translated into increased advertising dollars. Pages are up 21 percent in 2004 through August, following a strong performance last year.

The Atlantic also has been praised by the ad world for taking a bold step last year, by nearly doubling its subscription rate. A risky move, no doubt, it was nonetheless welcomed by an ad community that was suddenly sifting through audit statements with regularity, looking for quality circulation.

The new $29.50 subscription starting price has driven the average subscription price paid from as low as $10 five years ago to around $20.40, based on the latest figures.

The Atlantic knew they would take a circulation hit, so they lowered the rate base from 450,000 to 325,000. To their surprise, the title exceeded that number with ease over the past year, leading to a subsequent increase to 340,000 as of October 2004. "We were essentially leaving money on the table," she said. "We are not finding that much price resistance."

The magazine still has issues to sort out. "We still lose a lot of money," Keffer said, squelching rumors of any multimedia expansion or a launch of "The Atlantic Weekly." But the concept has been discussed. "We are still continuing to talk a lot about that."

Be the first to comment on "Mag Spotlight--The Atlantic Monthly"

Leave a Comment

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now

Recent Magazine Rack Articles

  • This Old House  

    I live in a Greenwich Village apartment. If you have one bedroom, you're considered fortunate; two ...

  • Popular Mechanics  

    Usually, I only read magazines whose content appeals directly to me: ones with glossy spreads of ...

  • Cooking Light  

    It's been quite a while since I gave Cooking Light short shrift in a 2006 review ...

  • Publishers Weekly  

    I read regional pubs of places I refuse to visit; enjoy enthusiast mags on subjects I'd ...

  • Bloomberg Markets  

    There may be, to quote George Costanza, painful shrinkage in key sectors, but Bloomberg Markets is ...

  • Bloomberg Businessweek  

    It's been over a year since Bloomberg bought the venerable yet ailing Business Week, and since ...

  • Weight Watchers  

    Anna Wintour be damned. The September/October issue of Weight Watchers magazine features plus-sized models  who look ...

  • Adirondack Life  

    Outdoor magazines always amaze me. Yes, nature is lovely to look at -- but what do ...

  • Guitar Aficionado  

    I was in a really cool guitar store in Brooklyn, Retro Fret, talking about guitars with ...

  • Essence  

    Should Essence, one of very few magazines exclusively for black women, have hired a white fashion ...

» Magazine Rack Archives