A couple years ago, publishers decided they had to start wringing more money out of their old content. Today, some of them are practically selling the photos that hang on their office walls, but the fruits of these labors are sprouting: The Atlantic, which uses archival material on both the print and digital sides of its business, now generates more than a quarter of its traffic every month from older content. At publications like Business Insider, the figure is even higher, and for lifestyle-focused publications like Refinery29 it’s higher still: 35 percent, and growing, the company said.
“We’re not looking to build our business on single pieces of celebrity news,” said Neha Gandhi, Refinery29’s svp of content strategy and innovation. “Betting exclusively on the news cycle is far too volatile a game to play, if you’re looking to drive sustained growth and loyalty.”
Older, evergreen content has always been a source of traffic for publishers; for some, it’s core to their business models. But recently, publishers big and small have embraced a wide array of tactics to get more value out of their stories: republishing the same stories with different headlines; targeting likely subscribers with promoted posts on Facebook; syndicating old content with advertisers hungry for high-quality stories; and many more.