Huffington Post Staffs Up For Ad Sales; Phases Out IAC Support

Confident in its new sales team, political news and notes site The Huffington Post is winding down its use of IAC/InterActive Corp. to sell its ad inventory as it simultaneously expands its content. IAC Advertising Solutions has served as Huffington Post's outside sales team since last June. The transition is expected to take a month.

The eight-month-old partnership with IAC Advertising Solutions was always seen as a temporary fix until HuffPo could get its own sales structure in place, according to Kenneth Lerer, co-founder of

"We always planned to use IAC for a limited period of time while we built our own sales team," said Lerer. News of the switch was first reported by industry blog Paid Content.

In that vein, James Smith came on earlier this year as HuffPo's first chief revenue officer. (Smith came over from AOL's, where he served as chief of publisher services.) And this past month, HuffPo has grown its sales staff from one to five, said Lerer.



IAC and Huffington Post are tied up in a number of other deals, "23/6" foremost among them. A spoof on the phrase 24/7, "23/6" is being developed as a multimedia comedy news program, and an online alternative to NBC's "Saturday Night Live" or Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

News reports that HuffPo is unhappy with the CPMs that IAC's team has been delivering are untrue, Lerer insisted.

"I was thrilled with their sales, but it was always our plan to bring sales in-house as soon as we could," he said. "There's no reason why we wouldn't use IAC's sales team in the future."

IAC Advertising Solutions representatives did not return inquiries by press time.

While new media companies can't have enough partners these days, the future of Barry Diller's IAC/InterActive looks strong with or without Huffington's business. Despite flat profit margins, revenue at the company's media and advertising unit grew to $159.8 million last quarter, marking a 46% increase from the same quarter in 2005.

In January, IAC tapped former CEO Peter Horan to serve as CEO of IAC Media & Advertising. Horan, who reports to President and COO Doug Lebda, now oversees, Citysearch, IAC Advertising Solutions and IAC Consumer Applications and Portals.

Since securing $5 million in venture capital last summer, Arianna Huffington has worked to expand her brainchild with video content, as well as business and editorial staff additions.

In a recent e-mail exchange with OnlineMediaDaily, Huffington repeated her stated goals for, along with some new ideas.

"We're looking to build on what we're doing by adding more video, more original reporting, more investigative pieces, more content directed towards women, and more satiric content." The site also plans on hosting the first-ever online presidential debate to be moderated by PBS's Charlie Rose, and in partnership with Yahoo and Slate.

"We'll be broadening our editorial scope to include sections on Business, Technology, Entertainment, and Lifestyles (religion, food, fashion, relationships, etc). We're also adding a host of technical features that will allow the HuffPost community to be even more involved with the site including Huffit, which is a new Community Powered News tool that allows the HuffPost community to become virtual news editors."

"Readers can huff (vote for) news anywhere on the Web that they think should get more attention and the most huffed or voted for news appears on the front of the Huffington Post."

Now nearly two years old, The Huffington Post drew 1.1 million unique visitors in February, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

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