Diller Disses “Internet Approach to Advertising”

The Web properties belonging to Barry Diller’s Interactive Corporation received 835 million visits across its network in April from roughly 194 million uniques. IAC is a company rolling in page views, serving huge audiences and yet they struggle to figure out how to make money.
Here’s an excerpt from a Paid Content interview that touches on some of Diller’s thinking about the matter:

Q. There’s been some heat on the Daily Beast for not having a business model to match the success of its early branding…
A. It’s silly. The business model for content is to be paid for it. You can be paid for it either though advertising or subscriptions–or some new invention, But right now what we’ve got is advertising revenue and subscription revenue as the only way to be paid for content. Right?
Q. You can do a little bit with e-commerce, but yes.
A. E-Commerce?
Q. Well, with placement–if you see something in a story, you can buy it through the story.
A. Please, that’s silly. That was tried. That’s never going to happen. It’s not like you’re in search of a business model. What we decided was to do something different with The Daily Beast. We knew we would not produce any real revenue until we had established the brand, so to speak, established the content as a place that anybody wanted to access. What we said was we’re not going to take any ads. I didn’t not want to–we actually did in a misunderstanding, we did take an ad very early, which when I saw it, I said, ‘how can you do this? This is terrible.’ I don’t want to take an ad now because it’s not going to produce revenue for us at this stage and until we conceptualize a manner of advertising that is different than standard display, the little 2X300 box, which we don’t want to do at the Daily Beast, until we figure that out, I don’t want to take any advertising.
…we’re going to pursue–a magazine approach to advertising, an art approach to advertising rather than an internet approach to advertising.

So, will bigger magazine-like spreads help solve the paid content riddle? I seriously doubt it. I think a better idea is to remove all advertising from a site, offer some content for free and the rest for a reasonable annual subscription.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.