Time is running out for BuzzFeed, Mashable

BuzzFeed has given up on going public for now and Mashable is looking for an emergency buyer. The honeymoon period looks to be over for online news websites -- left fragile by a model built almost entirely on advertising.

Less than two years ago, blog turned news site Mashable was valued at US$250 million (S$337 million), with Time Warner among its investors.

Today, its value has plummeted by 80 per cent, and it's reportedly about to be sold to Ziff Davis. The publisher did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, revenues that fell short of expectations at BuzzFeed -- built on a combination of pop culture and social networks -- mean it is no longer expected to go public next year.

The website has just announced it is letting go of around 100 of its 1,700 employees.

These sites -- like others founded in the last 10 years -- promised investors huge growth driven by advertising as traditional media battled for survival.

But in the space of a few months, the tide has turned -- as Google and Facebook's chokehold on the online advertising market reaches a critical point.

In 2017, the two internet giants have snapped up 63 per cent of advertising revenue, compared to 58 per cent last year, according to market researcher eMarketer. Next year, they are projected to rake in a 67 per cent share.

"Advertisers are increasingly demanding more granularity in targeting capabilities to reach consumers," Monica Peart, eMarketer's senior director of forecasting, said in late September.

"Google and Facebook have positioned themselves at the front of this demand curve."