Mail Online editor Martin Clarke has said the website will make £25m in revenue and break even this year, and hit back at critics who accuse it of running stories purely to attract traffic.
Clarke used a presentation to investors in parent company Daily Mail & General Trust on Wednesday to reject accusations Mail Online, the most popular newspaper website in the world according to comScore, gets traffic by focusing on stories that will be picked up by search engines and social networking sites.
"It is sometimes said that the Mail Online chases clicks. Well yes we do, but not on Google, not on Facebook or Drudge. These sources of traffic are brilliant but you can't build a business around them. They are one of the reasons we have grown but our growth is organic," he said.
"The clicks we do chase ... are the stories that people click on our homepages. We don't do stories because we think that they will be picked up on Google, Facebook, Drudge or GoViral. That is not why we do content. We do content that we think will delight and entertain the readers of our homepage."
Clarke also gave details of the revenue breakdown for the online assets owned by the publisher of the Daily Mail, Metro and Mail on Sunday.
He said Mail Online made £16m in revenues in 2011, and expects to make £25m this year, moving into operating profit from July. The revenue forecast is for £45m in 2013 and to hit £100m annually in five years.
Mail Online is attracting about £1.4m a month in digital display advertising revenue, with 86% growth in 2011 and a forecast of a 70% revenue increase this year.
The DMGT finance director, Stephen Daintith, qualified a comment he made about hitting £100m in digital revenues this year by pointing out that this figure encompassed Mail Online, Metro.co.uk, the company's job sites and property portals, which include Primelocation and Findaproperty.
Clarke said DMGT had spent £25m to build Mail Online into a website with an officially audited ABC web traffic of almost 100 million users each month.
He referred to a core of "crucial loyalists" who repeatedly visit the site and cited growth rates of 170% for its UK homepage and 240% for its global version.
Clarke said the scale of Mail Online meant it no longer considered its competitors to be rival newspapers but web giants such as AOL and Microsoft.
"We believe the ever more desperate debates you hear from other newspaper groups about how they survive in the future online are no more relevant to the Mail and Mail Newspapers then they are to digital-only players like MSN, Yahoo and AOL," he added.
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