Justin Smith has a great track record of repositioning great media brands for the digital era. His most recent media makeover, The Atlantic is only his latest success story. Jeff John Roberts at paidContent had a great interview and profile of Smith looking at some the secrets behind his success. Smith is a digital evangelist and more. Two-thirds of Atlantic Media’s advertising revenue is digital, and while other media companies have suffered over the last three years, Smith’s Atlantic has been in the black since 2010.
if there is one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, building a solid media company isn’t just about growing digital as quickly as possible but building successful products regardless of the platform. Roberts puts it this way:
And this is what Smith understands so well about building a media company today: the challenge is not print vs digital or about paywalls, but about using brand power to grab revenue wherever you can.
As Smith moves on to his next challenge, Bloomberg Media, Digiday has excerpts from an email to his new troops. Smith has always invested in talent, and that was key to his strategy at The Atlantic. As a matter of fact, if there was one thing that ties together a lot of disparate strategies, whether it is Smith’s Atlantic or the revitalised Orange Country Register, it is about about making smart investments to deliver a great product.
I’ll highlight just a couple of other comments that Smith makes. He has called on the staff at Bloomberg to embrace change and entrepreneurship. In terms of change:
The media industry is bifurcated into two distinct worlds: the struggling traditional segment that longs for a simpler, more profitable past that will never return; and the vibrant, entrepreneurial segment that is reinventing the industry before our eyes. The simple act of choosing to live on the new, wide-open frontier is a powerful step toward success.
And his definition of entrepreneurship is about adaptation and speed:
One definition of entrepreneurship is the ability to evolve your product, business model, technology, or talent base to capture a changing market opportunity. Moving quickly is paramount: the faster you move, the more you learn, and the sooner you can optimize for success.
Bloomberg was already a strong brand and a source of revenue that most media companies would kill for, the $24,000 annual subscription for its financial terminals. It will be fascinating to see how Smith supercharges Bloomberg.