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'The Atlantic' readies launch of digital business brand

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Atlantic Media Co., publisher of The Atlantic, announced last month that it has hired Adam Pasick as managing editor of a new digital media brand that will be launched early next year and will target global business executives. Pasick was most recently U.S. editor of Reuters.com. “Adam brings to Atlantic Media deep experience integrating first-rate business journalism with the latest technologies,” said Atlantic Media's Michael Kinsley, editor in chief of the new venture, in a statement. Atlantic Media is saying little else about its new business-oriented digital brand. “There's a strict lockdown on that until we get a little further along,” said Jay Lauf, The Atlantic's VP-publisher. A sense of what The Atlantic might be up to with its new business brand can be gleaned from its aggressive expansion to the Internet, which has led to an increase in b-to-b advertisers on its site. The Atlantic first appeared online in 1993, and over the past several years, it has redoubled its efforts on the Web. One of the brand's key strategies has been to emphasize commentary online by hiring noted and prolific bloggers, such as Andrew Sullivan, in an effort to make TheAtlantic.com a daily, if not hourly, destination. “(Atlantic Media Chairman) David Bradley four or five years ago embarked on a talent aggregation binge, I'll call it. He was looking for great journalists in that space who were comfortable in the digital world,” Lauf said. Ted Kohnen, VP-interactive media at Stein Rogan + Partners, cautioned that there are risks in a blog strategy for attracting b-to-b advertisers. “Bloggers can be a little more provocative,” he said. “In the b-to-b world there may be less of a stomach for that.” The Atlantic employs a host of bloggers in addition to Sullivan for its “Voices” segment. The brand also expanded its online commentary footprint this year by launching Atlantic Wire, which aggregates political and cultural commentary from disparate sources around the Web. Additionally, The Atlantic has launched a series of “Channels,” which are vertical segments on its Web site. The channels launched so far are business, politics and food. Megan McArdle, the magazine's business and economics editor and a blogger on TheAtlantic.com, is the anchor journalist for the business channel. It's unclear how The Atlantic's new digital business initiative will operate with the business channel. What is clear is that The Atlantic's approach to the Web is paying off for the brand. It won a Webby this year for best magazine site, and monthly unique visitors have grown 500% since 2007. Compete.com said Atlantic.com's monthly unique visitors totaled 981,000 in October, while the The Atlantic's own figures indicate the site attracts an average of 3 million monthly unique visitors. The Web strategy is paying off in an increasing number of b-to-b advertisers. Apple, Bank of America, Research in Motion, SAP and United Technologies Corp. are just a handful of b-to-b advertisers currently running campaigns on TheAtlantic.com. “It's one our hottest selling inventories,” Lauf said. The print version of The Atlantic has long had an attractive demographic. Its readers have an annual household income of $104,000, which places it among the top 10 print magazines, according to the fall report from Mediamark Research & Intelligence. Through September of this year, The Atlantic's print ad pages were down 18.2% compared with the same period of 2008, according to Publishers Information Bureau figures. Revenue from Web advertising and a 12% increase in online subscriptions to the magazine helped to ease that falloff. M
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