Home » The Autopian Is Finally Getting Ads. Here’s What You Can Expect

The Autopian Is Finally Getting Ads. Here’s What You Can Expect

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The Autopian just finished its biggest month ever, soaring to over 2.6 million pageviews and 1.1 million unique visitors (all of you visitors are unique and special in your own way) in its 10th month of existence. It will begin its 11th month with excitement and an optimistic view toward the future, as advertisements finally show up to help bring this great automotive community one step closer to sustainability. Here’s what you can expect, and an explanation of why we’re doing this.

Since day one, our goal with The Autopian has been to create a sustainable media business built to last for many, many years to come, and firewalled from the ups and downs this industry regularly endures. That means building diverse revenue sources so that we don’t have all our eggs in one basket—a common reason for failure in this world.

Vidframe Min Top
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So far, we’ve been delighted to count more than 550 readers as paying Autopian members (seriously, thank you!) since just December. We plan on working hard to grow that number this year and to keep doing right by the people who are part of this car club (cult, if we’re being honest). But we want to grow other pieces of this revenue pie too so that we can continue to do what we do, and not rely on any one income stream for it.

This means strategically-placed ads will soon join membership as a key pillar for bringing in the revenue The Autopian needs to become sustainable.

We know where other sites have gotten this wrong, and we think we can do better. Starting a media company from scratch is a marathon, not a sprint (though there is obviously some level of urgency, too), so we’re taking this step by step, and always staying focused on The Main Thing: the user experience. We’re always keen to have your feedback on the site, whether in the comments section or via an email sent to tips@theautopian.com.

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Before I hand it off to Matt to show you what to expect ad-wise, I want to again thank all of you for reading. Just 10 months ago, this website was just a dream in the heads of me, Jason Torchinsky, and Beau Boeckmann. Now it’s a real thing — an incredible car community that’s growing stronger by the day (heck, I have probably 100+ readers coming to my house party on Saturday!)

I cannot express just how grateful I am to all of you for supporting this car website; just know that we here at The Autopian will reciprocate that support by giving you the site you deserve. We’ll be figuring out this whole ad experience thing as time goes on, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a hiccup here and there, but like all relationships, communication will be key. Let us know what you like and what needs improvements, and we’ll keep working our butts off to thank you for giving us this chance to build something great.

Take it away, Matt!

How Ads Are (Hopefully) Going To Work

If anyone wants to sit down at a party over beer and go over my plans for making this website sustainable I’m happy to talk to you about it, but my main belief is: If you want things to stay the same, you have to be willing to constantly change. Ergo, if we want to continue writing about the things we love without interference on a website that’s easy for people to read, we have to be flexible.

The success of membership thus far has given us a little pad, and we hope we can double or triple the number of members we have by the end of this year (sign up here!), which would cover at least a third of our costs. We’re going to do this by writing awesome stories that you love. The rest of what we need I plan to pull in from a mix of advertising, partnerships (car builds, et cetera), events, merch, and maybe some commerce posts. One of my goals is to not be over-reliant on any one source of revenue other than membership.

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When ads launch, almost all of them will be purchased on an open market through something called programmatic advertising (you can read more about it here). I like to think of it as robots selling ads to robots. We can always turn off specific advertisers if there’s something offensive (email me matt@theautopian.com if you see something), but mostly it’s something that just happens in the background. Depending on where you browse, most of the advertising you see is sold this way.

In a generic sense, the most valuable types of ads are auto-play videos and big pop-up banners, which is why you see a lot of those ads on the sites of most of our competitors.

We don’t want to do that. The ads you’ll see on the site won’t completely cover our costs, but assuming we can continue to grow our readership, grow our membership, and be creative, I don’t think we’ll ever have to go down the road of slimy pop-up ads. What we will have are ads in the following spaces:

FRONT PAGE/CATEGORY PAGES

Taillrighuner3

You’ve already seen this type of ad on our current page, but now it’ll be dynamic so it can be either this big size pictured here (from major sponsor Taillight Ruiners) or the current size you see on the website. It’ll also appear on category pages and on search pages.

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ARTICLE PAGE ADS ON DESKTOP

Macy Brand

Great news! We’re finally tweaking the article pages on desktop so you can see more recent articles on the right rail, and you don’t have to always go to the front page to navigate around. We’re keeping the banner advertisement below the image, as we have now, and we’re adding one on the sidebar and an in-content one (in the article) approximately every 5-7 paragraphs/images/blocks. Depending on screen size and zoom level, you should never see more than a couple of ads on your screen at one time.

ARTICLE PAGE ON MOBILE

Ad Phonead

This will remain much like what we have now (with the little ad banner below the image) plus an in-content ad every 5-7 paragraphs/images/blocks like mentioned above. This will probably be the area of advertising we’ll have to tweak the most since articles are not the same length and use a different mix of images, quotes, embeds, et cetera.

That’s it. We assume it’ll take about a month for the robots who buy the ads on our site to get to know the robots who sell the ads so it may be a little random what you see until then. Sometimes you might not see ads at all.

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Once this is working, our next step is to finally deploy the commenting updates you’ve all been yearning for.

 

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Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago

Thanks for sharing the thinking behind your approach.

I’d like to echo people’s suggestion for a cheaper membership. I want to support you all, but over $100 a year is a non starter for what is a niche entertainment site, when $8/mo gets you The Guardian, a general news site with information that matters more than taillights (sorry Torch).

Lastly, the minute The Autopian starts showing video ads or any auto play video content, I’m never coming back.

667
667
1 year ago

+1

Space
Space
1 year ago
Reply to  667

x1

Brau Beaton
Brau Beaton
1 year ago

Please do your best to make ads palatable by letting Torch, and anyone else, place the occasional fake (humorous) ads … just like you did here. They could even contain active links, taking the reader to a hidden fake company product page (AKA: another article). Ultimately, it’s all in how it’s done.

05LGT
05LGT
1 year ago

I love that you’re pursuing diverse revenue, and being thoughtful enough that I won’t end up blocked by full screen (mobile) pop over Toyota videos for longer than I’m willing to find out before the content shows up. The Toyota Above Content went that way and for all I know still do it. I didn’t check back.

Gubbin
Gubbin
1 year ago

Those Torch ads are glorious, is there a way to buy placement for one?
Reminds me of when The Seattle Stranger launched and they had filler ads like “WHO DOESN’T LIKE A NICE STEAK DINNER? NOBODY, THAT’S WHO”

Deathspeed
Deathspeed
1 year ago

I can’t afford $10/month for membership, but I have whitelisted this site on my ad blocker.

Techdirt.com used to write quite a bit about how “advertising is content” and having interesting, relevant ads could be more effective than having creepy hyper-targeted ads. I’m more likely to click on a JCWhitney ad than a Viagra knockoff ad I’m seeing because my phone eavesdropped on and misunderstood a convo with a friend 10 minutes ago.

UX Designer
UX Designer
1 year ago

I’d really like to see an ad-free viewing perk as part of membership. It seems to work for Ars Technica!

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

Sheesh. I hope you are at least tapping that bot that’s making $150, or whatever, a day working from home for a piece of the action.

If it’s not a trade secret, what is the cost of sponsoring an edit function?

Lotsofchops
Lotsofchops
1 year ago

I’m on a free website in 2023, I expect ads so no problem there. I just want to ask about something I wasn’t sure I saw on the original article about subscriptions: why is the entry-level tier so expensive? I don’t want you to devalue your work, but $10/month feels steep for a single website. Yes there are perks thrown in, but frankly I’m not interested in any of them.
ArsTechnica is $3/mo or $25/yr. Now they have a much larger userbase, and maybe that scale makes a difference. But even $5/mo sounds more reasonable just to support my favorite motor-related website. I already give $35/mo on Patreon to various creators, as I have the money to support them and want to. Sorry if this feels too negative, I’m just firmly of the belief that there needs to be a lower tier.
Also while I’m soapboxing, I’m not creating ANOTHER account (gravatar) just for a little picture. I have too many accounts as it is. Please eliminate three. I am not a crackpot.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
1 year ago
Reply to  Lotsofchops

I’m a Velour member (who’s patiently going stir crazy waiting for my grill badge to arrive) and explained it to my “not concerned one iota” wife as justification for my purchase: For less than one dollar a day I get to enjoy well written, insightful, and enjoyable content by directly support those that provide me with this endorphin-releasing pleasure. And that’s at $250/year. $10/month is 33¢ a day. They are taking the PBS approach to this site and I am all for it (I don’t care about the tote bag or coffee mug, but I do care about the content and it being available as we all need more Kenny B. documentaries to fall asleep to).

I

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
1 year ago
Reply to  NebraskaStig

[Damn phone – didn’t mean to publish yet, so second post]

I…do see your point in some regard in that maybe they could do an open donation box/collection plate option for those that want to throw the loose change they might find when cleaning out their car. My question back would be: do you feel more vested in this site by being able to say you have a “membership” or is it to my prior point on just being able to support in a monetary way? If it’s the former, I don’t feel me being Velour (I’d prefer Pasha or Tartan patterned cloth but whatevs) puts me above anyone on this site who is a “lesser tier” member or not one at all. Nor do I feel lesser for people who can support the higher tier.

The best part of this site is that you can enjoy all of the content without paying a penny (plugged into your neighbor’s electricity and stolen Wi-Fi password) and can support by just reading the content. You said it yourself, you don’t want any of the perks that come with the memberships so… why does it matter to have one anyway? I literally paid for my membership so I can do the Quarterly trivia (I was active in all but 1 of the Torch/Tracy trivia’s during the beginning of COVID on the orange site), T-shirt and grill badge.

Consider this: I’ll pay for my membership and you can use the site like I’ve shared my Netflix password. We both win.

Lotsofchops
Lotsofchops
1 year ago
Reply to  NebraskaStig

The main reason I like having a membership somewhere is that I use adblockers, so they aren’t seeing a dime from me for ads. Ads are a problem for a whole host of reasons for sure, but I also want to support them as content creators so I’d rather give them money directly. If Autopian was the only site I read then sure, I’d pay the higher cost. But since I consume so much media it’s just not feasible to give that level of support. Just my perspective, of course. I’d be willing to bet that $5/month even with payment processing fees is still more than they would make off of me through ads alone.

Chris Campbell
Chris Campbell
1 year ago

The ads on another car website, , make me hate going there, so I don’t much. Popups demanding notifications, popup ads that block the screen with Samsung phones, inline shite that makes the page crawl. The dreaded REFRESH issues where the site just decides, hey, new ad, lets reload the whole page. Oh you weren’t reading this were you?

Looks like none of this is going to occur here. And I will likely soon be paying into this. Thanks for coming to my rant.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
1 year ago

Sounds like you’re approaching this carefully and thoughtfully (of course!), and I hope it works out well. I’ve entered the Autopian as an exception in my ad blocker, but the first time I see a toenail fungus ad, I’m out!

David Findlay
David Findlay
1 year ago

Will members get to avoid the ads? I like this feature on other sites.

Marc Fuhrman
Marc Fuhrman
1 year ago

As long as the ads are non-obtrusive, I am perfectly fine with them being on the site. I very much so want to see the Autopian grow and thrive and be around for years to come. And I’m fully aware that ya’ll have bills to pay and what not. So if this helps keep the site going, I’m all for it.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 year ago

I think you guys are leaving a lot of money on the table by not offering a cheaper membership; that was called out a LOT in the original membership post, and so far I’ve seen no movement on it.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Cheaper than $10/month? They’re not going to make much of anything off a $5 membership. I plan to do the $100 for the year eventually, I really need to get on that

Sherifftruman
Sherifftruman
1 year ago

Arstechnica.com has a large staff and does in depth reporting on tech and science related stuff and their membership is $50 a year plus you get a yubikey.

Dave Garland
Dave Garland
1 year ago
Reply to  Sherifftruman

Actually, Ars is $25/year without the yubikey. But it’s true they have massively more viewers and subscribers than Autopian does. To be honest, I probably won’t pay $50/year here. But at the moment my adblocker is turned off for this site. It’ll stay that way if the ads aren’t too obnoxious.

Blair Nicholson
Blair Nicholson
1 year ago

They’ll make even less if they don’t offer something like that and people just chuck ad blockers on.

I genuinely would love to support this website, but as I mentioned last time $10 USD is $14 AUD. I couldn’t justify that a month, but I could happily justify $7 AUD /month if it removes ads.

I don’t even want a t-shirt or the complimentary finger puppets of David, Mercedes and Torch (I already made my own and periodically rub David’s in some used car oil and powdered rust to make it feel like he’s actually here).

What I do want though is a tier, that is priced with international people in mind, and is completely virtual so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on the official autopian puppets/t-shirt

Matt Hardigree
Matt Hardigree
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

We definitely have a plan for it, we’re just working out some details.

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

That is good news.

I’ve said it in another article’s comment section (and so have other commenters), a level without swag would be perfect, especially for non-US members.

On the other hand, it would be great if non-US readers could also contribute by buying merch of their own choice to be sent to a non-US address! Only 11 months until Christmas, eh? What?

05LGT
05LGT
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

I’m in at $60 a year. That’s what I give PBS, more than Pandora, and fits my comfort level. No merch required, I just want to feel like I’m participating while not feeling like I’m being irresponsible.

FlavouredMilk
FlavouredMilk
1 year ago

I can see in the way this piece has been written that you guys are all aware of why advertising grinds everyone’s gears and that you’re doing your best to avoid it.
Static placed ads are definitely a good place to start, and will be welcomed with minimal complaint (mostly from those who missed the announcement and get surprised by it) and I hope you guys can manage to make the needed revenue without autoplay videos or pop ups, because we all know how quickly those kinds of changes tanked the last place many of us trusted to get our car news from.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
1 year ago

Bill Macy Coilovers? He told me they were added at the factory, ya know.

James Duffy
James Duffy
1 year ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

If you guys fail to sell a “Bill Macy Coilovers” T-shirt, well, you’re just idiots.

Wait, you ARE self-admitted idiots. I’m so confused. Just sell the damn shirts, m’kay?

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 year ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

Standard on cars sold from Gustafson Motors.

Gene1969
Gene1969
1 year ago

I’m ok with this. You guys need to get paid.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

I dont mind ads and you definately need the revenue. If you have 550 members probably vinyl thats $5,500 a month, or $66,000 a year so one employee sans cost. I suggsst pertinent ads not anything goes Temu scam ads. Reputable car parts or dealers, insurance, garage builders, hell ask us what we intend to buy first and approach the appropriate seller please no ads that pop up and when you hit the x it grows and you go to their page. Do a regular sized ad that counts a view as we scroll by it or a view if we close it because we saw it. Having sold newspaper, radio, mail, and phone book advertising i suggest work on a script why your low key approach is better.
1. People hate the loud forced ads. They will see it and hear it but wont buy it.
2. Many readers are visiting while at work. Getting them fired wont help sales.
3. Offer them a position if possible that the story highlights the need. Dont do advertorials but a members photo of a mud covered jeep where weathertec floor liners kept the floor clean, or an excellent wiper.
4. Offer them the opportunity for a product evaluation. Not a fake one but a Top Gun evaluation of car products. You guys have cred as long as you dont lie like the old site your recommendation will help sell.
5. Sell a sellabration. Find a tire manufacturer. Wiper manufacturer, a car part supplier. Negotiate a good sale price for readers and offer it on Autopian for a month at most. Preferably a week. We order it it pays for itself and more. Limit how many you do at one time. Limit how often you rerun the same special. Dont accept the same deal they are running all the time elsewhere. Make it a get not a meh
I got others but since my shitbox showdowns suggestions never get chosen ill leave you with ideas that will bring in hundreds of thousands.

Matthew
Matthew
1 year ago

I love the Torch ads and I hope they’ll be inserted at random amongst the robot ads to keep us on our toes. Any chance on plans for a lower support tier where I can spend $50/year and forgo the free merch?

IanGTCS
IanGTCS
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew

I’d be in for this. I don’t want or need another shirt or stickers but I’d happily chip in to not see ads. Fark has bare fark with no ads but not the full membership privileges. Detector does something similar with membership tiers and I happily pay for that site.

Gubbin
Gubbin
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew

Free merch costs like $10 at most with shipping so…yeah no.

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
1 year ago

As long as this place doesn’t end up like The Drive, I’m all for it!

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 year ago

I am pumped! Not because I like adds per se, but because I can’t wait to see what kind of adds one Jason Torchinsky manages to finagle into this place. Taillight enhancers? Natch. Shower spaghetti preparation bowls? Absolutely. Some random company selling artificial-insemination gear for ferrets? Wouldn’t surprise me a bit. Bring it!

David Fernandez
David Fernandez
1 year ago

Great news!

My issues with the other German lighting site started when the ads got out of control. Hope it never gets to that on this website.

As usual my blocker will be off when perusing this site and I’m hoping for an ever cheaper member tier.

Thanks! Keeper on keeping on

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago

Sprinkle some of those Bill Macy adds in with the real stuff, you know, just for fun!

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 year ago

Wrigley’s antifreeze-flavored gum doesn’t work when I try to chew it in my fancy German car. Do you have any special-expensive-antifreeze-flavored gum?

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
1 year ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

I’m just waiting for the KaleCo Auto Blinker Fluid flavor. Made with real kale!

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

When I tried chewing it in my old Porsche, it didn’t taste like anything at all!!

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

I have tested this and have scientific proof. Bolognese jaw breakers can last the duration of a hot shower. Even longer in fact.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

Well, if you have the *correct* kind of fancy German car, you should’ve bought the air-flavored gum instead.

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
1 year ago

… I keep expecting Nibbles to appear in the Comments section.

CSRoad
CSRoad
1 year ago

I’m cool with ads to a point, I realize it is about the only real source of revenue for a site like this.
Most people need to be paid.

I run uBlock Origin on my browser but have kept it turned off on this site and will continue to do so unless things get out of control. I have no problem scrolling by things that don’t interest me and clicking on things that catch my interest.
Keep moving forward, as long as the viewer has a voice, we will let you know one way or another if we are displeased.

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