IAC’s Diller Talks Online Profit

Barry Diller has made it unanimous: Media moguls want to actually make money from the stuff their companies put on the Internet.

Now, if they can only get Web surfers on board.

Sure, there are ads. But “it’s not a good time to be exuberant about advertising,” said Diller, speaking Friday at Fortune magazine’s Brainstorm: Tech conference. He added that “out of the shreds” of the advertising slump will emerge vibrant new business models.

Diller runs a slew of online companies that offer goods and services that surfers pay for, such as subscription service Match.com and several online retailers. But he also serves up free entertainment online, so he laments that there’s not more money to be made there. Yet.

Disney CEO Robert Iger and News Corp. digital chief Jonathan Miller had similar complaints.

Diller talked up plans to bring several creative people from an entity called CityLights into the fold of CollegeHumor.com, which offers free video shorts. The chairman and CEO of InterActiveCorp. likened the sort of “cracklingly funny” content creation going on at CollegeHumor to the film industry in 1914, an indication of the improvements that are in store in the quality of content and the money to be made.

At the conference, Ashton Kutcher was passionate about the Internet’s influence on traditional media. His Katalyst Media, for example, is turning online videos into TV shows: A show called I Pledge, which will highlight philanthropic celebrities, began as a four-minute online video that had stars pledging to “be the change” that President Obama speaks of. Katalyst also is turning its online cartoon Blah Girls into a TV show.

Kutcher also noted that once he twittered the link to an online video to his 3 million followers, the video quickly went from 12,000 views to more than 1 million, which prompted a morning TV show to feature it on-air.

He said Twitter is “a great distribution platform” that not only can dictate what’s popular online but what gets seen on TV.

Kutcher arguably is the most famous Twitter user after he surpassed 1 million followers more quickly than even CNN, proving, as he said at the conference, that Internet technology can give individuals the sort of influence once enjoyed only by powerful media companies.

Plus, he can inform 3 million of his fans, with a touch of a button, about his upcoming movie, a fact that should thrill the marketing executives at film companies — or make them very nervous.

Nielsen Business Media