Cover Story: All Charged Up and Ready to Grow (More)
Building a Barrier to Entry
This year, Smith says the company will make important investments in free and paid iPhone apps around The Atlantic and its Atlantic Wire brand. In the e-reader space, the company was the first to develop a content-specific package for the Kindle—Atlantic Fiction on Kindle, which features two short stories released exclusively on that device. It plans further expansion into the e-reader market this year.
By continuing to build on all fronts, including additional investments in print, AMC hopes to solidify its market and brand position.
Echoing the ideas of Columbia economist (and Atlantic contributor) Jonathan Knee, Smith says that publishers today must practice this sort of brand-centered, integrated and highly flexible approach. "In a [media] world with no barriers to entry, you're going to need multiple advantages, which together add up to some sort of barrier, some sort of advantage," he says. "The field has been so flattened by technology, content alone is not going to do it. Brand alone is not going to do it. Talent alone is not going to do it. I would argue [that] it's a combination of these things—great content, brands, strong community and audience engagement."
All pursued with an eye on the bottom line. "You have to be hyper-efficient," he adds. "It's one of the last remaining differentiators in a world with no barriers to entry, and is what a lot of the insurgent new media brands are doing. Finally, be nimble [and] flexible, and have a culture that rewards that."