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Jon Steinberg’s Daily Mail America Second only to NY Times in Readership, But Gets No Respect

2013 Adweek Hot List Gala

MailOnline, the website of British tabloid Daily Mail, is the most-visited newspaper site in the English-speaking world, according to ComScore, and it is the No. 2 news site in the U.S., behind The New York Times, with about 40 million unique monthly visitors. But the website’s ad sales in North America are well below what its traffic would normally suggest.

Do advertisers disrespect the Daily Mail on account of its sensationalism?

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Back in the 1980s, when Rupert Murdoch had just purchased the once liberal NY Post, he complained to Macys executives about the fact that they awarded all the fat space ads to the NY Times and the NY Daily News but nothing for his readers.

“That’s because your readers are our shoplifters, ” one executive told him.

Is this the case with the Daily Mail, which focuses on celebrity gossip and shock stories? Can they get no respect?

Last year, according to Ad Age, MailOnline in the U.S. picked up only around $8 million of revenues. This year, Jon Steinberg, the Daily Mail CEO for North America, says he expects U.S. ad revenues to exceed $16.5 million.

“We’re the underdog, the up and comer, and I’m super flexible, ” said Steinberg. “I’m willing to be cheap –
proving your value is the lifeblood of this business. My modus operandi is to come up with a price the first time, over deliver, and then renegotiate the price.”

Until last May, Steinberg was president of BuzzFeed, where he built the company’s business model of selling only sponsored articles to advertisers. AD Age says BuzzFeed revenue will top $100 million this year.

But when asked whether he plans to poach anyone from BuzzFeed, Steinberg said: “Poaching is not my style at all. That wouldn’t be something I would do.”

Steinberg has already met with marketers and media agencies, and has already come away with a large homepage banner and wallpaper ads from BBC America. But Steinberg won’t reveal how much BBC paid for the campaign.

Ad Age quotes Steinberg as saying advertisers will spend in the high five figures “to really get going.” And the low six figures is “where you’ll be able to do something substantial” on the site.



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