Salon Media Group, Inc. announced its results for the three months and nine months ended Dec. 31, 2013.
In a release on Feb. 14, the Company said that net revenue from continuing operations for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2013, was $1.9 million, an increase of 82 percent from the same period last year. For the nine months ended Dec. 31, 2013, net revenue was $4.6 million, an increase of 70 percent versus the same period last year.
Traffic at Salon.com resulted in $1.8 million in advertising revenues for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2013, an 80 percent increase compared to the same period last year. For the nine month period, ad revenues were $4.3 million, or an increase of 72 percent compared to the same period in the prior year. The improvement in the current quarter stemmed primarily from increased advertising sold by Salon's internal sales team, which rose 175 percent to $1.1 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2013 as compared to the three months ended Dec. 31, 2012.
Operating expenses for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2013 rose 23 percent to $2.2 million compared to the same period last year. The $0.4 million increase resulted primarily from higher stock compensation costs and commissions paid to the advertising sales team. The company's loss from operations for the December 2013 quarter declined to $0.3 million, a 62 percent reduction from the $0.8 million loss for the same period last year.
Overall, Salon has been able to achieve revenue growth without a corresponding increase in operating expenses. Excluding the impact of discontinued operations, operating expenses for the nine months ended Dec. 31, 2013 increased 6 percent to $6.0 million compared to $5.8 million the same period last year. Controlling the increase in expenses helped to narrow the company's loss from continuing operations to $1.5 million for the nine months ended Dec. 31, 2013, a 51 percent reduction from the $3.0 million loss for the same period last year.
Unique visitors to the Salon.com Website is an important driver for Salon's business. Unique visitors during the December 2013 quarter increased 12 percent as compared to the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2013, and declined 3 percent compared to the same period the prior year, according to data compiled by Google Analytics. However, unique visitors in the quarter ended December 2012 included traffic to an affiliated Website that has since been shut down. Excluding the traffic from the affiliated Website, unique visitors to the Salon.com Website in the quarter ended December 2013 increased 43 percent compared to the December 2012 quarter, pointing to consistent growth in readership at the core brand. Unique visitors as measured by Comscore increased 13 percent compared to the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2013, and no comparable data was available for the December quarter 2012 as the Comscore data is a new measurement that includes mobile traffic and is available only since July 2013.
Salon also experienced a 60 percent increase in mobile browser traffic in the December 2013 quarter, compared to the same quarter last year. The company continues to see a significant shift to readers accessing Salon from mobile devices, with 48 percent of users visiting the Website from mobile devices in December 2013. The entire company is focused on providing the best possible experience on mobile, from content delivery to unique advertising implementations.
Salon's traffic has also been fuelled by social referral traffic, which grew 18 percent in the December 2013 quarter versus the September 2013 quarter, and 64 percent compared to the same period in the prior year. Facebook continues to be the largest social referral, and grew 44 percent compared to the September 2013 quarter and 123 percent versus the December 2012 quarter. We saw a doubling of Facebook referrals from September to December 2013, partly as a result of the increase in our mobile traffic.
"There has been a major shift underway in the media. Digital news sources, driven by advanced technologies and improved user experiences across multiple devices, have begun to attract the industry's best journalists and most creative advertisers," said Cynthia Jeffers, CEO and CTO of Salon Media Group. "Salon was the first quality online media outlet, earning a reputation for our bold, progressive journalistic voice. We maintain our commitment to that quality, while further integrating the latest technology to ensure our journalists and readers have the most current, and consistent and readily available access. All of this is leading us to our most exciting period of growth yet, and steady progress toward a sustainable and profitable business."
Salon also announced on Feb. 11 that Thomas Frank would be joining as a politics and culture columnist. Frank will become Salon's new Sunday morning essayist, and will also host Q-and-As and provide commentary on breaking stories.
"Tom brings a leading voice in political commentary to Salon, and his committed progressive worldview represents the principled and fearless independence of mind that's at the core of Salon," said Dave Daley, Salon's Editor-in-Chief. "We are very excited that Tom is joining our team."
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