Blog profits, the apocalypse is off

In the UK last week blogging outfit Shiny Media went into administration, but across the pond Nick Denton’s Gawker is in rude health despite his apocalyptic predictions.

Last Autumn Denton grabbed a few headlines when he said we should be preparing for a decline of up to 40% in advertising revenues. What he actually said was: “Anyone who isn’t prepared for ads to go down 40% is crazy.”

Well there has certainly been a lot of craziness since. Today Denton reveals the good news. First-half revenues at Gawker were up 45% as its ad growth continues pretty much uninterrupted. Nice work.

He’s even updated his apocalyptic chart. Awesome, you have to respect someone who takes time out from the apocalypse (I mean there’s all that Evian, cans of Heinz baked beans and flashlights to stock up on and that takes time) and updates the chart.

Obviously, Denton didn’t sit around waiting for the apocalypse, he took steps. Were they apocalyptic steps? He cut staff and closed sites as Gawker reduced the number of blogs it publishes from 15 to nine. This included the axing of and incorporating it into Gawker.

But it wasn’t the cuts alone that paid off. As Denton puts it:

“The plunge has already been pretty terrifying for a range of companies from Yahoo and IAC to the newspapers. But I was wrong in one respect: a few premium internet brands, Gawker’s among them, have withstood the advertising apocalypse.”

“Sometimes there’s consolation to be found in congenital pessimism; I’d rather be wrong and thriving than right and dead.”

As for Shiny Media, the sites (like Shiny Shiny) are gathering digital dust despite talk they might be bought. Interesting blog post here, however, by a former Shiny Media staffer who says one of the problems was the errrm lack of traffic and ads.


  • MCL

    The success of the high profile American blogs in part comes down to media self obsession (along with the more prosaic issue of timing). Gawker, HuffPo, TPM, etc all acted within the NY/DC fishbowl of media itself, bringing media attention on themselves by going on about media.

    Add to this a talented roster of writers/self-publicists who sought attention-grabbing and/or original stories with big money, high-profile backers and contributors [partic re- Arianna] and you have a far more involved and competent set-up than anything in the UK blogosphere.

    There is also the issue of UK audience and taste. American audiences are far more used to receiving their news from a diverse source of outlets: a large number of TV news stations; many, many local news outlets; a mammoth national magazine industry; etc. While the average media consumer might not be so advanced receptively as all that, there still remains an acceptance of authority from a diaspora of media sources, reflecting the nation’s blah blah, you get the drift.

    In the UK, meanwhile, we are capable only of responding to a very few acknowledged outlets: bow down to the beeb, curtsey to the broadsheets. There are few online-only UK outlets which have established themselves on the same kind of terms as US blogs.

    The make-up of US media simply allows for new outlets, online or print, to have their voices heard and acknowledged more easily than in the UK. A more advanced tech-audience and a blogosphere with a more cohesive agenda in establishing itself and a greater willingness to fight for that respect [cf. Denton in particular] has also to be factored in.

    The success of a UK blog is not impossible. It’s just that UR DOIN IT RONG.

  • Kevin Gordon

    Hi Michael,

    You can’t park your yellow taxi in the middle of Madison Avenue.
    You’ll get a ticket.

    If you think the UK is doing it wrong.
    Expand. Tell us what you think we are doing wrong.