SourceForge finds its advertising rhythm

SourceForge wasn't a very good software company, but it's proving to be a competent media company.

SourceForge recently reported results for its second fiscal quarter of 2009, and seems to have finally found its rhythm. The company, which for years tried to split its time between software (SourceForge Enterprise, purchased by Collabnet in 2007) and media (Slashdot, ITManagersJournal,, etc.), and struggled to tell a coherent story.

As its most recent results suggest, however, SourceForge is beginning to find consistency as a media company, as demonstrated in its year-over-year growth in key areas:

  • Ad Network revenue increased 84 percent;
  • Premium product revenue grew 100% to $1.0 million;
  • Media uniques grew 9 percent to 36 million;
  • Revenue per thousand page views increased to $9.59 from $9.36, while page views increase 2 percent.

While SourceForge hasn't seen double-digit growth in most areas, it has seen consistent growth across its product line. This is good news for the company and, in turn, for its product portfolio which makes up a significant part of the open-source online community. Take away Slashdot and, for example, and open source would suffer.

It's therefore encouraging that the company has seen three trends in its fiscal 2009:

  1. Revenues from ad networks has grown;
  2. Revenue from standard Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) banner ads has shrunk
  3. Revenue from premium, custom interactive ads has grown.

Even as the market contracts, SourceForge has grown. In part it is demonstrating the execution of a winning, Google-esque business model: provide serious informational content in a lively forum and target ads to the audience that gathers to consume it.

But it's also showing that old brands can revive themselves if they focus on their core competence. SourceForge (then VA Software) was never a successful software company, and diluted its media brands by pretending to be such. Now that it can focus on delivering compelling content and intelligently advertising to its readership, it's doing much better.

Follow me on Twitter at mjasay.

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