‘We do not sell one cent of revenue programmatically.’ How Car Advice avoided low yield advertising

A publisher focusing on premium content doesn’t need to be distracted by low yield programmatic advertising if it’s generating revenues through its own sales teams, Car Advice CEO Andrew Beecher has told an audience in Sydney.

Beecher was speaking at the Mumbrella Publish conference about Car Advice’s evolution from a one person blog to a $20m a year business, underpinned by a strategy of delivering high quality stories to its audience.

“We’re happy to trade electronically but it hasn’t reduced our costs by one cent, so it’s something we haven’t engaged in yet,” said Car Advice CEO Andrew Beecher

“We do not sell one cent of revenue programmatically. We have an in-house sales team, we have 39 advertisers that have spent money on Car Advice in the last twelve months, 37 of them are car companies,” said Beecher.

“Twenty of the top twenty car companies advertise on Car Advice. I was going to say we don’t take any non-car advertising but today I found our first bank ad on the site. So we do have the occasional non-car ad, finance being our number one and tyres being number two.

“We’ve absolutely put a premium on ad sales. It means our ad sales team is hand built and expensive, it’s not that we won’t engage with programmatic and electronic trading, it’s just that as a publisher, I’m yet to have a programmatic discussion that doesn’t involve yield reductions.”

“We’re happy to trade electronically but it hasn’t reduced our costs by one cent, so it’s something we haven’t engaged in yet.”

Beecher pointed out the site’s in-house advertising team generates revenues that make programmatic revenues irrelevant: “Across all articles on Car Advice, my average cost of content delivery per thousand page views was $2.80, however that includes news which pulls down the averages down.

“The real headline number is reviews which on average costs our business $23.50 per thousand page impressions to produce. We’re roughly selling around the $40 CPM mark and hence we’re spending about $23.50 to generate those thousand page impressions.

“It shows that investing around fifty percent of our total turnover in content is probably the right balance”

Beecher however said the site does generate some revenue selling back into the programmatic ecosystem:  “We do sell our data via DMPs, we’re very comfortable in selling our data because we’re a net producer of new car cookies so why wouldn’t we help our partners across other platforms.”

Unlike The Collective’s Lisa Messenger, Beecher says maintaining a full time editorial team is a key part of the site’s success: “We believe passionately in culture.

“We’ve been pretty passionate in making sure our content creators are full timers, rather than freelance contributors. it was a deliberate strategy for us as a business. When I took over we were paranoid about classifieds, we believed that making money out of straight display was impossible.

“As somebody who has grown up reading car content since I could first read, we took the opposite approach and said there’s a shortage of quality content, so we doubled down on our content creators and we went from having three full time journalists to twelve in the first 12 months and we’re now at 21.

“We tend not lean too much on freelancers because we believe our content creators are our brand.”


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