Roy de Souza
Oct 18, 2011

What leading newspaper sites across the world can learn from The Daily Mail, Huffington Post and TMZ?

The article is written by Roy de Souza, managing director, ZINC India, an India-based online ad exchange firm

What leading newspaper sites across the world can learn from The Daily Mail, Huffington Post and TMZ?

After years of struggle, some US newspapers are finding exciting routes to huge success on the Internet. Indian newspaper sites are following this lead. This innovation and traffic creates brand new opportunities for Indian agencies and their clients. According to Comscore data, the Daily Mail, which isn’t a big newspaper in the UK, will soon be the largest English news site worldwide. Also the Huffington Post, launched in May 2005, was recently sold to AOL for $315 million after becoming a top 100 site in the U.S., and TMZ, a celebrity gossip site, has been recognized by the New York Times as “one of the most successful online ventures of the last few years.”

These sites can be role models for newspapers. Why have they been successful when sites, such as CNN and the New York Times itself, are caught between the old journalistic paradigm and the new?

1. The Daily Mail: A Willingness to Try Something New

The Daily Mail attacked a new online business with a new team that allowed for innovation and speed of execution. Rather than follow the traditional model of hiding news stories under separate sections (Business News, Sports), the Daily Mail puts most of its stories on the home page. Indeed many stories are repeated three times: as text links, banner headlines with huge photos, and again as small photos with some content.

With so many stories on it the home page becomes long, and it looks like you can scroll endlessly without ever getting to the bottom. But it turns out that users like to scroll more than they like to click. So users scroll down happily and find an article that they want to read. And as the computing world moves to tablets, users will be even more comfortable scrolling – and the Daily Mail will grow further.

Of course, the Mail also values content. All of their content is interesting and curated exceptionally well.

With these innovations the Daily Mail is about to beat the mighty New York Times online. The Internet now allows the little guy to beat the existing leader in way that would never have happened in the print world. The Daily Mail story is an inspiration to everyone.

In India, already has a similar page with very long content. That means that users are staying a long time on that page. So advertisers who buy advertising on their site will know that users see the ads for longer and the ads have more impact. [Disclosure: is a customer of ZEDO ( and sells advertising on ZINC India Exchange ( )]

2. The Huffington Post: A Brand New Business

The Huffington Post was never a print newspaper, so it wasn’t burdened with previous traditions. In the early days Arianna Huffington gave log-ins to celebrated authors and guaranteed them a place to blog where the comments would be moderated and they would feel comfortable online. She also gave amateurs a chance to write for exposure, rather than pay, which created far more content than she could have afforded to pay for. By guaranteeing exposure, she acquired great writers for small or no wages.

Huffington Post also focuses on search engine optimization. It tracks topics that users are searching for and then writes several articles to interest these people. They create content for search. In the newspaper world, Arianna would have had to write just one article and choose a one great headline. On the Internet she can write many articles so that more people who search find a relevant article.

Advertisers will find that sites like this will soon succeed in India. I expect to see one any day - the Internet moves fast. And they may find that these sites have great content and great users at a lower price than established sites like [Disclosure: is a customer of ZEDO’s]

3. TMZ: The Latest Content for the Star Struck

Giving celebrity gossip its own dedicated URL was also a good idea. Launched in 2005, TMZ was the first of its kind – an entire celebrity magazine in real time and blog style. TMZ makes it fun and exciting to give them tips and it is not above paying for them. This encourages photographers and tipsters to support it.

For TMZ, being first with a juicy story is what counts. In 2011, it has an average of 18.5 million readers, which allows it to attract major brands advertisers like Revlon and Chrysler, as well as obvious partners like New Line Cinema. TechCrunch followed a similar blogging style with an emphasis on the latest news generated from tips, and it did very well in the tech space.

Indian users are also very excited by stars and their lives. So sites that can continually provide the latest information will get huge loyal user bases fast. Advertisers who tie up with these sites earlier can ride the wave and have their brands also get huge benefit.

In summary, good content is always interesting and valuable. Users know and like good content in a good format. They grow to depend on it, as older generations depended on their daily newspaper. And advertisers love to be on sites with great content. So these new high quality content newspaper models are very exciting opportunities for brand advertisers.


Roy is also chief executive officer and co-founder, ZEDO Inc, a global Internet advertising technology firm and a pioneer in Internet advertising technologies and platforms. ZINC (India) is a spin off from ZEDO, Inc.


Campaign India

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