Thursday, April 3, 2003

What a racket

Matt Drudge pulls in 800K a year for putting up a list of links and resting on his laurels.

"There is always this feeling that Drudge is about to break something," says Phil Boyce, program director at WABC radio in New York. That leads many loyal readers to check the site 10 to 15 times a day. That drawing power has turned Drudge into one of the Net's biggest traffic generators. "Besides being on the front page of Yahoo or getting some major placement on AOL, Drudge Report is the place to be," says Bill Bastone, editor of the Smoking Gun website. "The second he links to us, our traffic triples." Conversely, getting your link removed from Drudge's homepage can be catastrophic. Just ask the New York Press. Last summer the alternative weekly ran a column that criticized Drudge. In retaliation, Drudge dropped the Press from his list of newspaper links. Overnight, traffic to the paper's site plummeted by a third.

Along with that power comes profit. "If we've been going through an ad recession, I'll take more!" marvels Kevin Lucido, CEO of Intermarkets, who handles Drudge's advertising. Lucido says ad space on Drudge's site sells out months in advance. (The Drudge Report ranks 29th on the Web in advertising impressions.) Such advertisers as DirecTV, Paramount Pictures, and even the New York Times (NYT) pay as much as $2 for every 1,000 impressions. Even with discounting on the ad rate, Drudge's flood of traffic means he can still bring in almost $5,000 in revenue on a good day. Back out a few expenses -- such as server costs, his employee's salary, and Lucido's commission -- and the rest is gravy