Corner Office Interview: Growing Paid Circulation: A Foreign Concept?
What percentage of subscriptions currently come through your website?
Kellogg: Approximately half of our new business, plus a growing number of renewals from subscribers who use the website to manage their accounts. Our goal for renewals is to convert subscribers to our continuous-service program.
Has the number of Web-sold subscriptions changed recently and, if so, why?
Kellogg: The conversion rate has held constant, but because overall traffic has increased, the absolute number (and percentage of total new business) has grown. And by introducing the "registered user" class on the site, we have a constantly refreshing pool of responsive prospects to promote.
Print content as far back as 1947 is available online, yet you also sell back issues. Do you sell many?
Kellogg: No. That is more of a service for libraries or long-time subscribers who want to build their collections. … There is an active market for back issues on eBay, too, along with the Tom Waits CD of the same name!
What are other primary revenue drivers?
Kellogg: Licensing and permissions, list rental. The academic market is important, not only for the current revenue it generates, but because many readers are first introduced to FA in college.
Are you integrating user-generated content into your site? If so, how and with what impact?
Kellogg: Yes. The site relaunch last year introduced commenting on all articles, and we are seeing some interesting discussions developing around articles. … We are also actively building a following via social media, because we want our readers to communicate on whatever platform they prefer.
Your content is, well, not for those with short attention spans. Long-form content is sometimes criticized in today's fast-paced marketplace. Is the "3,000-word feature" still working for you?
Kellogg: Some essays can even run 5,000 or longer. You're right, long-form is not for everyone. But it does help to differentiate FA from the competition, because it allows a level of treatment of an issue that no one else provides. There are other benefits, too. FA is now available on e-readers, and long-form is perfect for that reading experience. Since we launched on Kindle less than a year ago, we have consistently ranked as one of its top 10 magazines. It also may benefit our online model; because people tend not to read long-form online, we are building an audience via Web-only content, but getting paid for the long-form content.