The paidContent 50: The Most Successful Digital Media Companies In The U.S.

1. Google

Google

U.S. 2010 digital revenue: $14.1 billion

Snapshot: Google executives have long said that their company is not a media company and has no aspirations to produce content. There’s no doubt, though, that Google has created a massive business off of others that do create content online. Its search engine culls billions of web pages to return results, which it then sells ads against. AdSense is the largest ad network in the world and funds the operations of thousands of sites. And YouTube hosts videos that are played more than two billion times a day.

Despite its success, however, the company is struggling to counter criticism that it is overly dependent on its search business; in October, it helped its case with the disclosure that mobile sales hit a $1 billion “annualized run rate,” while display ad sales were on track to total $2.5 billion a year.

Key digital move in 2010: Google tried to disrupt the TV market, launching Google TV, which lets consumers access TV broadcasts and web content on their TVs. The launch showed Google’s ambition but also its vulnerability. Major media companies blocked their content from being streamed on the platform, consumers were not enamored of it, and by the end of the year, Google had asked its manufacturing partners to hold off on showcasing new versions of it.

How we generated our estimate: Google says it got about half of the $28.2 billion in advertising revenue it reported in 2010 inside the U.S.