How The New Yorker turned the page on digital

Stephen Whiteside

The New Yorker is among the most cerebral magazines on American newsstands – and it is now leveraging a smarter digital strategy to boost its traffic and subscriber numbers.

Unlike many print titles, the Condé Nast-owned offering began charging web users to access 60% to 70% of articles when establishing its online presence in 2001, with its staff typically choosing which pieces were open to access.

By contrast, the "metered" model rolled out late last year lets readers view six free articles of their choosing each month before paying a dime – and yielded a 56% uptick in subscriptions over the holiday period, followed by an 80% lift in early 2015.

So what lay behind this shift in tactics? In the first instance, the brand recognised that its original formulation – where subscriber-only material was marked on with small blue keys – had protected The New Yorker's integrity and revenue, but was increasingly limiting the publication's ability to tap the power of search engines and social sharing.