Making Content Sites Profitable

December 18, 2008 by Douglas A. McIntyre

PcA new report from ContentNext, which is available at its site, PaidContent.org, reviews the financial prospects of political and news sites.

The first conclusion of the report is that being big is good. Sites with 200 million pageviews a month have a reasonable shot at getting major advertisers. Having pageviews of over 800 million a month puts news and political sites into the marketing big time.

The question that many people in the new media ask is what does it take to get a new site profitable in the world of MSNBC.com, CNN.com, and FoxNews.com? The answer appears to be getting reasonable CPMs for advertising and controlling costs. That can work, even at a website with modest traffic.

At lot of the focus of the "Size Doesn’t Matter" report is on Huffington Post, Politico, Slate, and DrudgeReport. In October, comScore showed that Huffington had 4.9 million unique visitors, Slate had 4.7 million, and Drudge had 2 million.

The report’s cash flow modeling shows that sites with as few as 15 million pageviews a month can make money. That assume a $5 CPM, which may not be easy to get in this economy. At the same CPM, sites with 200 million pageviews a month can make a great deal of money, if they keep their employee headcount at modest levels. In short, headcount counts as much as CPMs do in the effort for medium-sized websites to make money.

The ContentNext report covers a lot of ground but perhaps the most important message that even if a site is not CNN.com, there is still hope that it can do well financially.

Douglas A. McIntyre