Huffington Post launched a British version of the popular US site a year ago. The business model pushed by Arianna Huffington leaves bloggers who do all the writing unpaid. It is a successful model – AOL paid $315 million to buy the website and AOL keeps all the advertising revenue. Whereas MessageSpace happily shares the revenue with our bloggers, HuffPo doesn’t pay its bloggers a penny. Unsurprisingly HuffPo bloggers tried, unsuccessfully, to sue for back-payments when Arianna sold the site to AOL.
MessageSpace sells advertising on behalf of dozens of independent news and politics websites, allowing them to monetise their content without having to have their own sales operation. Every month we pay bloggers thousands of pounds. Quite simply MessageSpace financially supports the independent British blogosphere.
After 12 months of HuffPo operating in the UK we commissioned market research from Consumer Surveys to discover how familiar the general public were with blogs. They found that 61% of the public had never heard of the leading blogs, Huffington Post did have the highest name recognition (28.4%), followed by the Guido Fawkes Blog (10.0%), ConservativeHome (5.6%), LabourList (4.8%) and LibDem Voice (3.8%).
In market penetration terms there is clearly still a long way to go and plenty of opportunity to grow the British blogosphere.