The New Yorker is publishing less content, yet it drives more revenue and traffic.

Publishers have a dilemma. Should we go with a paywall and drive revenue through subscriptions or forego the paywall and drive revenue from advertisers.

Some of them are doing well in their niche with paywalls (the Wall Street Journal for example), others not so much. Some believe access should be free and focus on advertising revenue (LaPresse+ is a good example).

The New Yorker did a test last year. They took down their paywall for 5 months last year. The goal was to get as many people as possible to discover their nonfiction content, and incite them to subscribe once the paywall came back.

“Good luck with that,” pretty much everyone said.

But here’s what editor Nicholas Thompson had to say about the exercise:

“It wasn’t a massive increase in readers between July and November. There was an increase, but there wasn’t a massive increase. What’s weird is we launched the paywall, and then there was a massive increase.”

A year later, numbers are still up.

Now how is that possible?

Quality over quantity.

What they realized lately is that the stories where they put the most effort, the ones they are most proud of, are the ones driving the most traffic.

Audiences are saturated with the offer in content these days. Your goal is not to publish so often that they might, someday, click on something you did. The goal is to publish quality content that will create loyalty with your audience.

We went from an age of “Share of voice” (mostly used in TV advertising talk) to “Share of heart.”

It’s not a question of who will shout the loudest, it’s a question of who will win your heart.

If your numbers rely too much on the amount of content assets you produce and not enough on the quality of those assets, your results will suffer in the end.

Keep that in mind. And read this great Poynter article about how The New Yorker sees this.