The Digital Skeptic: Security Site Makes Money, But Brings SWAT to the Door
All Krebs does to pay his bills is charge for -- get ready for it, Web media hipsters -- banner ads. Advertisers, mostly from security companies such as Campbell Calif.-based IronKey, Bethel Park, Pa.-based Malcovery and Chicago-based Authentify pay a premium over junk Web traffic rates to share their brand with his.
"My annual marketing budget is few hundred thousand a year," said John Zurawski, in charge of marketing for Authentify.
Zurawski places ads in most of the major financial services brands, including Bank Technology News. "But Brian's site is by far the No. 1 referral engine we get," he said.
When I asked if banners ads were too simplistic a marketing tool in the age of big data, he bristled."I dont need a demographic report from Brian Krebs to understand that when he interviews a Russian hacker, he is going to attract interest," Zurawski said. "No one has that story." And those close to new media say Krebs' model of serving a tight niche and keeping costs down is progress in a world where investigative reporting struggles with bloated expenses. "I think what Brian is doing is refreshing," says Chas Edwards, a media entrepreneur who co-founded blog advertising network Federated Media. "The news business is stuck in a mindset where great investigative reporting has to cost $10 million year. Krebs shows that great work can get done with low costs." Krebs declined to share specifics on his revenues, other than to say he does most of his own reporting and editing and that his standard of living is about the same as a reporter working at the Post. "And I can do things I could not do before," he said, "Such as travel the world and give speeches about topics I am very passionate about." Considering media giants such as AOL (AOL) consider 8% net margins progress and Krebs keeps most every dime he makes, I think it's a safe to guess that from a net earnings perspective, Krebs is crushing the brands at The Huffington Post. When I asked if his approach might be an answer for a media business struggling in a declining age, Krebs was optimistic. "I have been trying to corrupt my colleagues to go out their own," he said. "As long as you find topics people want to read about, and offer something they cannot get anywhere else, I think those niches are everywhere."
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