The Daily Beast continues to fascinate and amaze me. Here's a beautiful site that elegantly combines aggregation with reams of original analysis and testimonials by a motley crew of think tankers to newsmakers and pseudo-celebrities. What more could a publisher ask for?

How about some advertising?


This glittering and vast website with expensive writers and editors and technicians appears to me to have about the same number of advertisements as my friends' free Tumblr blogs. The Financial Times sits down TDB editor Tina Brown and rightly praises her for building a wildly successful site on the back of ... um, Barry Diller's credit card? From the FT:

No one is prepared to disclose The Daily Beast's revenues, and when advertising is sparse in a harsh commercial climate.

Caroline Marks, The Daily Beast's general manager, says this is by design. "Barry Diller has been very clear about building quality content businesses and giving them room to build their audiences before foisting break-even on them," she says in an interview in IAC's New York headquarters.

The Daily Beast was, from the start, in part an experiment to find a better class of online advertising in a market where infinite supply has dragged down rates...

Mr Diller admits that it is not yet clear whether The Daily Beast has found a better model. "It's not yet in evidence, but I'm hopeful," he says in a telephone interview.

I'm so confused. I understand advertising is sparse, but it still exists. Why does TDB seem to have one (one!*) sponsored link on the entire site today? Also, I understand Diller's interest in building quality content and an audience first, but he's had both those things now for more than 10 months. And what does "giving them room ... before foisting break-even on them" even mean? Tina Brown's editorial sensibility isn't so sensitive that the site of a banner ad threatens to smear the integrity of her vision. I just don't understand what's going on over there.

*To be clear, clicking around the site, I found one advertisement. I have since been informed that there were four ads on the site.

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