The Atlantic's Highest
The Atlantic is the latest content creator to attempt to sell an ad package of social media-generated impressions, flogging sponsored messages within some of its Twitter feeds. Ad Age's Nat Ives put together a good state-of-the-practice roundup including The Atlantic's newest product, which apparently is not yet reflected on its online ad products page.
To date there has not been much hard research on the economy of publishers giving away free content on various social media streams versus the traffic or revenues they generate in return. To be sure, that equation is a complex one, with the content give-away being a form of circulation marketing that is difficult to consistently record.
The dilemma for publishers first appeared as RSS feeds became a must-have. (Here is MarketingVox's first tiny post on it from almost ten years ago. 468 RSS stories later, the arc of that narrative can be described briefly as it having been widely adopted; over-hyped as an impending email replacement; and then, eventually, a form of teaser content.
The publisher's typical response then was to publish partial content in the RSS feed, expecting a net positive traffic effect. Social media posts of content on Twitter and Facebook are often similar ploys, although most appear to be complete (if brief) posts without the explicit expression that the complete story resides on the main branded site.