Online ad-sales datapoint of the day

By Felix Salmon
May 20, 2009

Remember Nick Denton’s decision to go on a firing spree because ad revenues were going to fall by 40%? Well, they didn’t at his own shop, Gawker Media: sales were up a double-digit amount in the first quarter, and are up 27% in the second quarter. Does this mean that all those firings needn’t have happened after all? My guess, which I hinted at in my comment on the big debate over at Boing Boing Gadgets on vs Wired magazine, is that a lot of it comes down to the business side of the media companies.

In a recession, a great ad-sales team, backed by a nimble publisher who’s willing to move fast and aggressively when opportunities present themselves, really comes into its own and starts destroying its competitors in a way that just doesn’t happen in much less discriminating up markets. One of the biggest secrets of Gawker’s success is its business side — they don’t get nearly as much attention as the editorial side, but they make all of the money, and they’re extremely good at what they do. Maybe Denton should have believed in them more.


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Or maybe he was just clearing the deadweight so his ad sales team was didn’t have waste too much of their time squeezing pennies out of record labels for Idolator or whoever advertises on Wonkette. The rest of the sites are in areas that aren’t as hit by the recession – tech & cell still need to be on Gizmodo and Gawker for anyone after metropolitan adults.

Maybe he does believe in his ad sales team and that’s why he dropped the time-sucks.

On the content side, Denton was definitely using the recession as an excuse to cut people. He started taking on new writers less than three months after firing the popular Sheila McClear and has “hired” frequently since then (if you can call it that). For evidence, see and check out the number of people that went from 0 page-views to tens of thousands.

Quality has suffered. While the weekday posts still hold up, weekends have become unreadable.

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