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The New Yorker adapts online

News, 06 July 2015

NEW YORK: The New Yorker, the weekly magazine published by Condé Nast, has boosted its online readership and subscription levels by adapting the model underpinning its digital paywall.

Monica Ray, Condé Nast's evp/consumer marketing, discussed this subject at the INMA World Congress in New York.

She reported that The New Yorker's metred system - which was launched last year, and lets users access six articles of their choosing for free each month - has helped the site surpass a total of 12 million unique visitors.

After clicking on a fourth article, visitors receive a reminder that they are half way through their monthly allowance; upon trying to view a seventh, a "full barrier" indicates a payment is now required.

"In our research, we found that people got that at some point you're going to have to pay for the content. They did not have to be reminded incessantly about paying for the content," Ray said. (For more, including more detailed results, read Warc's exclusive report: How The New Yorker turned the page on digital.)

Rather than representing a simple demand for money, the reminders also draw on The New Yorker's rich visual history and distinct tone of voice.

"We worked hard to bring our brand sensibility - and some of the humour and whimsy of The New Yorker - into that subscription process," said Ray.

"So we have used cartoons from the print magazine, from the archives, to make those offers a little less of a sting."

Under this system, subscription numbers rose by over 50% during the holiday period last year and more than 80% in the opening quarter of 2015.

Its previous paywall - introduced in 2001, when the brand first established an online presence - had restricted access to between 60% and 70% of content from each week's issue, largely as chosen by the editors.

The main drawback of this approach was that it limited both The New Yorker's visibility on search engines and curtailed social sharing. Over the longer term, though, it did help the brand avoid the mistakes of others.

"In the early days of the internet, I don't know what Kool-Aid everybody was drinking, but, boy, was everyone excited to give our wonderful content away for free," said Ray.

Data sourced from Warc