The Atlantic Tears Down Their Paywall

The Atlantic announced plans this morning to drop their site’s paywall and to offer all site content for free. Goldman Sachs also inked an agreement with the magazine to sponsor the site’s free content — thankfully, Goldman Sachs’ adverts are unintrusive and are limited mostly at this point to promos for a GS-sponsored PBS program.

It’s a smart move on The Atlantic‘s part and one that we hope more publications (The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, The New Republic specifically) follow. Despite worries that putting a print magazine’s full content online for free will erode the subscriber base, nothing could be further from the truth. Subscribers largely obtain magazines for advantages that can be garnered only from the print version (portability, ease of use); those looking only for free articles to read can easily look at websites that offer similar content instead.

Kudos to The Atlantic on this one.

Press release after the jump.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Zachary Hastings Hooper, The Rosen Group

Advancing Aggressive Online Strategy, Removes Paid Firewall

Washington, DC (January 22, 2008)– Bringing together 150 years of groundbreaking long-form journalism and up-to-the-minute analysis of today’s news, today removes its paid firewall and posts all of its content for free. Goldman Sachs is sponsoring the move, the latest step in The Atlantic’s online strategy. Visitors to will now enjoy for free:

Each issue’s complete content

Daily posts by The Atlantic’s wide-ranging blogging team, including Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Matthew Yglesias, Ross Douthat, Megan McArdle and Marc Ambinder

Unique roundtable discussions about current event topics such as the Presidential primaries

Web-only dispatches by writers such as Robert Kaplan, Mark Bowden and Joshua Green

Thousands of articles from The Atlantic’s storied archives

“Like most publishers, we’ve been studying ways to integrate a relevant and compelling web presence into our strategy-and it turned out there was a completely natural fit,” said Justin B. Smith, president of Atlantic Consumer Media.

James Bennet, The Atlantic’s editor, explained, “The Atlantic has always been a platform for strong-minded writers advancing big ideas and making provocative arguments-and often disagreeing with each other. We saw obvious symmetry between a highly-polished magazine of ideas and arguments, and a turbulent, up-to-the-minute web site delivering the same things, by writers who are at home in either medium. And it’s worked-our bloggers are engaging each other in collegial combat over big political, social and cultural questions, and drawing a steadily growing audience.”

In 2007, tripled its traffic to 1.5 million unique users and 8 million page views. During that period, digital ad sales grew to 10% of total ad sales, and traffic has grown faster than The Atlantic’s digital marketing investment. Current online advertisers include Allstate, American Express and Intel.

“As consumers seek information and opinion in different forms, advertisers are targeting their audiences through brands that can reach out across multiple media,” added Smith. “The growth of alongside our print and event business increases our connection with affluent thought leaders, in turn giving advertisers multiple access points to this coveted demographic.”

Since it was founded 150 years ago, The Atlantic has helped shape the national debate on the most critical and contentious issues of our times, from politics, business, and the economy, to technology, arts, and culture. The Atlantic’s parent enterprise, Atlantic Media Company, is a Washington, D.C. based publishing company whose flagship properties include The Atlantic, National Journal, and Government Executive. With more than 1.5 million readers among the ranks of business, politics, government and academia, the publishing properties of Atlantic Media enjoy a prestigious reputation, acquired through 15 decades of publishing top-quality American literature and journalism.