The Walrus adds digital tusks

Four years ago, The Walrus hit the Canadian mag scene with a mandate to serve the country's thought leaders. Now, the brand has plans for sponsorable digital opps.

With a paid print circ of about 60,000 so far this year, The Walrus is rolling out new digital features. They’re all part of an online growth strategy that includes more than banners and boxes for advertisers. Currently, the Torstar Digital-owned Olive Network serves online with the standard banners, skyscrapers and box ads. But new multimedia features such as podcasts, blog rolls, discussion boards, galleries and a beefed-up newsletter are open to marketer involvement.

The Walrus‘ online content currently attracts an average of 20,000-40,000 unique monthly visitors (100,000-200,000 pageviews). Director of Digital Media Devin DeCiantis says the mag’s growth strategy includes a target to quadruple those numbers by the end of summer.

The magazine’s website boasts a new ‘Media Centre,’ where digital content seekers can find everything from audio versions of content streamed by broadcast reading service VoicePrint Canada to The Walrus‘ May radio spot, marked for rotation on Classical 96.3 FM in Toronto. Two video podcasts, provided by (a side project of Walrus associate publisher Rose Giles, which she says is drawing 10,000 unique visitors monthly), feature public debate about journalists and the importance of protecting sources. There’s also a digitized version of the print mag itself.

Packaging the magazine’s digital content with sponsors involved may be as simple as pre-roll podcast messages or ‘printer-friendly’ pages backed by Xerox or Canon. Current print advertisers include automakers like Porsche and Volvo, premium liquors and beermakers such as Pilsner, and tourism campaigns for Nunavut and Nova Scotia. The Walrus is also running a full-page ad for Alliance Atlantis’ controversial CSI: New York airing on the History Channel as part of a media swap between the specialty broadcaster and the quality mag. Online, there are expandable banners for Saturn via Olive Network.

When The Walrus launched in 2003, it hit the Canadian magazine scene with a promise to become the country’s premiere source of quality writing – of the kind the nation’s thought leaders would eagerly absorb for its politics, economy, arts and tech coverage. Last year, the mag took 14 golds at the National Magazine Awards.