Blogs are big business…just not here

With Shiny Media going into administration yesterday there is a timely piece in the FT today on blogs. Yes, they’re big business in the US (its like the FT just noticed), but here start-ups have struggled to replicate the success of the Huffington Post and Gawker. Is the UK simply too small?

We wrote about Shiny Media’s fall last night and Lisa Devaney has blogged about it here as well. A real shame to see it fail. Maybe its strategy wasn’t all there, it certainly had missteps along the way (like
its move into football that resulted in Who Ate All The Pies being put up for sale), but I think the people at Shiny produced some very good work and ultimately it appears to have been a small publisher hit by the recession.

Its woes (I’m guessing) were no different to any other online publisher. There is not enough revenue out there. Not as much as anyone would like to support such a business.

What’s clear is that while blogs like the Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, The Business Insider, Gawker and quite a few more do good business in the US, the UK market appears too small to sustain even quite a compact firm like Shiny.

This is a shame as I often think that media owners don’t do blogs very well (The Guardian and a couple of others aside), but there doesn’t seem enough advertising oxygen to do them independently and make a living.

Shiny is, of course, not the first UK blog start-up to go down. Glitterdtich closed last year. I don’t know what Shiny was getting for its online advertising, but I doubt it was achieving the levels that newspapers are or anything like it.

In the US, as the FT notes, US blogs have hit the level where they are able to charge about what a big US newspaper charges for online advertising. The Business Insider’s rate card for instance is up to $30 per 1,000 impressions. Gawker has a rate card CPM of around $50 (of course, it doesn’t mean it gets that).

They are also pulling in millions of dollars in venture capital, but here the story is different. The Shiny Media was variously reported to have attracted $4.5m in funding in 2007 from Bright Station Ventures, but apparently the veracity of those reports is not 100%. With co-founder Katie Lee (who left earlier this year) saying: “It was incorrectly reported in the press and we were told to stick with the story. Was mortified.”

Shiny Media’s blogs will no doubt continue as the company gets snapped up by someone (at least I hope it does), but it looks unlikely that anyone in the UK is going to be using blogging as a launch pad for anything major any time soon with the way the market is.

But it would be nice to try. It all comes down to the ideas.


  • Peter Martin

    That’s a darn shame (and I don’t just mean as a fellow blogger looking at the shadow of a caped dude with a scythe outside).
    I hope it won’t affect the lady who blogs on tech and enviro stuff in the Telegraph; I like her columns. And I recall her being cited as a Shiny founder.