Good News for Newspapers (Who Like Bad News)

James Smith, chief revenue officer at the Huffington Post, has reason to be optimistic. The site, self tagged "The Internet Newspaper," is riding a surge in traffic and a commensurate surge in revenue.

And it's not just the Palin Factor or the election, from which just about every news site has benefited. "Interestingly, over half the traffic is not for political stories," Smith said.

Third-quarter revenue is double that of first quarter. A year ago, the HuffPo began launching new verticals, business and entertainment among them, and this September the site showed a 600% increase in unique visits over a year ago, according to Nielsen. Media, style, green and living verticals have also been added to the site. Mario Ruiz, vice president of media relations, says to expect a books section to be added in the first part of 2009.

"The approach that was originally taken on the political side works in business and entertainment, as well," Smith said. "It's about the growth of our brand." And a growing healthy brand is attractive to advertisers, he adds. "Especially in times like we are facing, you are going to want to make sure your brand is in a growing brand."

The high engagement of what Smith claims are the HuffPo's core audience of influencers and opinion-makers is also attractive to advertisers. "Page views are high"--more than seven million visitors in September, "and we had over a million comments last month," Smith said.

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