Huffington Post President and Chief Revenue Officer Greg Coleman says that he’s on target to reach his goal of doubling the news aggregator’s ad sales this year thanks to two things that hadn’t existed at the company before he arrived. The first was the hiring of a sales staff; secondly, it has consumer research that those new sales people can take to marketers. This week, HuffPo is adding nine new sales staffers, and is going over results of an IPSOS survey of what appeals to HuffPo’s audience — something that is likely to influence the company’s ongoing plan to build on its already significant traffic. HuffPo now has 16 ad sales employees, and Coleman is expected to ask for the budget to include still more hiring over the summer and fall and on to “phase II” of his revenue building program.
For its last wave of hires, HuffPo relied on those with major media experience. The next wave of hires will be in the social media space, Coleman told paidContent in an interview. “We’re looking at building out a team of social marketing managers to help direct our marketing program and capitalize on the Twitter sections and integrated social advertising efforts that were begun last year.”
Among the new names coming on board are former Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) entertainment accounts director Terry City, executive director for Entertainment Sales and Strategy; ex-Forbes’ Marcia Greenblatt; Wenner Media’s Jim Iacono as LA sales director; AOL’s Laura Krebill as account director; and USATODAY.com’s midwest sales director Mark Walker, among others.
While Coleman and CEO Eric Hippeau would not provide specific dollar numbers, they both insisted that revenues were growing rapidly and that HuffPo might reach profitability sooner than expected, perhaps before the end of the year. Last month, Outsell’s Ken Doctor estimated that site could have made $12- to $15 million in revenue in 2009. He surmised that with continued traffic growth — the most recent comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) numbers said HuffPo and its 19 site sections drew 24 million monthly uniques, while the panel-only numbers have the site at 12 million.
But to Coleman, traffic was only a factor. “Up until I arrived, there were not many resources in the sales and marketing arena,” Coleman said. “We