Digital contributed half of all ad revenue at Wired magazine in the final three months of 2012, a first for the title and an encouraging sign for an industry where most big brands still rely overwhelmingly on the difficult business of print. Across the year as a whole, digital ads comprised 45% of total ad sales at Wired, according to the magazine.
The Atlantic has ratcheted digital ad revenue to an even higher share of the total, saying today that digital delivered 59% of its ad revenue in 2012. But Wired has a larger print business, guaranteeing advertisers a paid and verified circulation of 800,000 last year and running 885 ad pages, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, compared with The Atlantic's rate base of 450,000 and 463 ad pages.
Digital revenue for most magazines still runs at a significantly lower level.
Digital advertising contributed to about 10% of Wired ad revenue in 2006, when parent company Condé Nast bought Wired.com and reunited it with the magazine, according to Howard Mittman, VP-publisher at Wired.
"We spent a lot of time debating whether we were the best magazine with a website or the best website with a magazine," Mr. Mittman said. "And at the end of the day, I don't think we care. Hitting 50% is proof that there is a successful template inside of this industry that can be followed by others and that having a magazine doesn't necessarily need to be an analog anchor around your technological neck."
Wired ad pages declined 5.7% in 2012, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, but Mr. Mittman said digital's rise did not depend on a drop in print. "Real-world print dollars were flat year over year," he said.
Roughly 90% of Wired's digital ad revenue is coming from the traditional web, he added. "The tablet is becoming a significant contributor to all this but, candidly, the bulk of this is coming from the website," Mr. Mittman said.