Silicon Alley Daily Wants Readers to Opt In to E-Mail Ads, Classifieds

Silicon Alley Daily, an e-mail newsletter published by New York-based Rising Tide Studios and a companion to its 10-times-a-year magazine Silicon Alley Reporter, thinks it has found a way to monetize its product. Not only is it selling ads and sponsorships, but it also is including classified ads and paid press releases in its newsletter about the goings-on of New York City-based Internet companies.

Earlier this year the company sent a message to its nearly 43,000 subscribers telling them that if they wanted to continue receiving the daily e-mail newsletter free, they would have to opt in for a weekly promotional e-mail. If they were not interested, they could opt out of the newsletter entirely.

The sharp downturn in the Internet advertising economy has made newsletter publishers turn to some unusual methods to help support their businesses.

Jason McCabe Calacanis, editor of Silicon Alley Daily and Silicon Alley Reporter, as well as CEO of Rising Tide Studios, said the Silicon Alley Daily e-mail newsletter was one of the first business-to-business newsletters available when it began almost four years ago. He also noted that it was the first to offer classified ads, and to his knowledge, it is the only one to offer press releases.

The company began offering a section that features links to paid press releases in late March, Calacanis said.

“All of our readers are getting press releases anyway,” he said. “So if we can monetize that, why not?”

Silicon Alley Daily is one of five e-mail newsletters published by Rising Tide Studios. Its other offerings include Digital Coast Daily, a companion to Silicon Alley Daily featuring coverage of West Coast Internet companies; Digital Music Weekly; iHealthcare Weekly; and Wireless Reporter.

The company offers e-mail sponsorships at varying rates. For Silicon Alley Daily, it charges about $250 per 1,000 e-mails. For Wireless Reporter, which only has about 10,000 subscribers, the company charges up to $500 per 1,000 e-mails.

All of its newsletters — available in HTML format — already include banner ads and classifieds. Space to include press releases is available for $325 per day, and classified ads are $450 for five days.

Calacanis said the company now has four revenue streams from its e-mail newletters: banner ads, sponsored e-mail, press releases and classifieds. Rising Tide Studios includes two to four banners, a weekly promotional message, one to five press releases and five to 25 classified ads per e-mail.

“We're really pushing the envelope to monetize our newsletters and keep them free for our readers,” he said. “Why would anybody buy a banner ad on a Web site when they can buy a dedicated e-mail?”

He also said he expects to take some business away from companies such as NetCreations and press release distributors PR Newswire and Businesswire.

“We're causing a bit of a controversy with them, because we are cannibalizing their business,” Calacanis said. “I don't believe in the Web. I believe in e-mail.”

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