Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Daily Beast: Online Syndication is Butter

Launched 5 months ago today, The Daily Beast, a new kid on the Web, is getting a lot of attention: 2 million unique visitors a month. The master heads are hoping the buzz would, some day, turn into bucks.

But not now. For the time being, the Daily Beast doesn't need to worry about "food hunting." With $18 million funding from New York media mogul Barry Diller (left in the photo), the 24 Daily Beast staff, led by Tina Brown (right in the photo), is on a free ride to hunt for content. The goal is to keep driving up the traffic.

As Brown said in a recent interview: "I think news is the best marketing budget. I'd rather have news than a marketing budget. If you have stories people want to read, that's the best way to market your site. It's much better than pictures, posters, and expensive advertising."

And Ms. Brown is in a perfect position to do so. Former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, talk show host and author of book Diana, Princess of Wales, Tina Brown, 54, has done it all in journalism. It's hard not to have A-list writers flocking on her site.

Tina's long-time friend, Chris Buckley's column, started at the Daily Beast's launch, has been a huge traffic driver. It's been picked up everywhere.It's one of the great fun things about the traffic metrics to be able to see. It's still driving months after it was published. “We published the piece whenever it was, and now I can see people are going back to the new piece about having left the National Review, but they're also then going to the other piece to see what he said in the first place. So it's been great for us.

Edward Felsenthal, a veteran at the Wall Street Journal, left earlier this year to join the Daily Beast as its executive editor, said the website also serves as a semi-refuge for traditional print and book writers --- an easy way to publish on the Web. "We receive phone calls from well-known writers saying 'I just wrote a piece, but I don't have a computer. I have to fax it to you.'"

The Daily Beast is in line with Drudge and the Huffington Post, but it is "not trying to be any of them." "We don't want to be another aggregator," Felsenthal said. The content goes through the editors with twists. "It sifts, sorts and curates. We accept and we reject."

The website pays a fee to its contributors and demands a fee from other websites that link to its content.

"I think online syndication is a great idea," Felsenthal said. The website is already making modest money from it. "Syndication is not bread-and-butter yet, but, butter."

Stay tuned and stay toned...


  1. They're doing everything right. First, I love their name. And the tabloid-looking masthead. And I found them exactly as she described: through the Chris Buckley column endorsing Obama.

    I didn't realize they syndicate, that's smart.

    And they're "news marketing" is everywhere. That silly Megan McCain blog about Ann Coulter is all over tv and the internet. The conservative vs conservative controversy seems to be a theme for them.

  2. D.H., it's interesting that you like its tabloid-looking masthead. Felsenthal said it was one of their biggest challenges not to look to tabloidy.

    Tina Brown is really well-connected. That was one of the major reasons why Barry Diller wanted her to run the show. Diller waited for Brown to finish her Diana book to start the website. Says a lot how important her network is.