Last month, we reported that the rise of Donald Trump has been less beneficial than you might think for Breitbart, the conservative hornet’s nest that championed Trump’s Twitter-based rise to power. Although it’s normal for news outlets to lose readers after a high-stakes election cycle is over, Breitbart’s drop in readership has been especially dramatic, with daily visitors reportedly dropping by half. Now, it looks like the site’s advertising partnerships have taken a similar, even more drastic hit.
This is per The Washington Post, which reports that the formerly Steve Bannon-run site has lost a whopping 90 percent of its advertisers in recent months, leaving behind a handful of strip clubs, golf courses, and fellow right-wing publications. That’s according to MediaRadar, a New York-based company that tracks online advertising, which found that, of the 242 advertisers Breitbart had in March of 2017 (itself a drop from the thousands who once allowed their ads to run on it), only 26 now remain.
As previously reported in the Post, one reason for the site’s widespread advertiser drop -off is that it’s simply become easier to do; as the post-Trump political polarization has only gotten worse, advertising collectives—like Google’s Display Network—have started offering companies the ability to keep their names off of controversial sites. Breitbart—which made its name as an online gathering spot for the screaming voices of the right-wing fringe—has been a no-brainer for most major companies to avoid.
Other have pointed out that, regardless of politics (or its PR cousin, optics), Breitbart’s simply turned out to be a shitty investment for most companies in terms of their advertising dollars. Online advertising analysts Word Stream note that the site’s clickthrough and conversion rates—that is, the number of people who are intrigued enough by “Online Background Checks!” to actually click the ad and check out the product—falls way below sites like Fox News or CNN. The end result is a cost-per-click that’s just not worth the price.
Of course, The Post also notes that “hated outsider” is a core part of Breitbart’s brand, so this loss of ad revenue isn’t the end of the world for the site. The company gets at least some of its funding from investors and donors—including conservative tech billionaire Robert Mercer, who invested $11 million in Breitbart back in 2011—so being almost universally loathed by advertisers might just turn into another perverse “badge of honor” for the site.