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
Vidframe Min Bottom

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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Joregon
Joregon
1 year ago

Add-free reading would be a great perk for subscribers. Maybe even as an add-on to the current tiers (Windshield Wiper? Seat Protector?).

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
1 year ago

I’m not going to be all “Yay, ads!” like some commenters here, but I understand the decision. I really like Jason and David’s work, and I want to see this website succeed, but I’m not going to pretend that ads haven’t been one of the most annoying things about the internet since Al Gore invented it.

That said, I trust you to go about it in a smart way that’s not hostile to your users. I appreciate how open you are to reader reports of any ads that might be offensive, and I hope that this extends to reports of ads that have a negative effect on the user experience (e.g., flashy animated ads, ads that are positioned such that they “jump” the text around, etc).

Oafer Foxache
Oafer Foxache
1 year ago

I would also suggest looking at some non-automotive sites for ideas on financial sustainability. Places like The Chive avoided the traps set by Google/Facebook etc that wiped out a number of popular sites, and found economic stability with a variety of methods. You don’t need to copy them… just gain a little inspiration!

Richard Townsend
Richard Townsend
1 year ago

I am happy to contribute to the Autopian but I don’t wish to tie myself into yet another monthly subscription.
Is it possible to buy a sticker for lets say, five dollars? That way I am supporting the site with money plus I get a cool sticker to put on my car and you guys get free advertising.
Its a win, win, win outcome.

Dest
Dest
1 year ago

Do members still see ads?

Also you guys to fix your sign in process. Every company I have worked at has blocked personal email at work, my primary autopian reading time. I still signed up for a membership, but I assuming membership is an option to get rid of ads, I think you’re missing out on a good number of people for that reason.

Racingtown
Racingtown
1 year ago

Ads are here…great. I find the ones inline with the text overly large and distracting. They seem to be placed haphazardly though the text. There is a ton of white space below the recent article line off to the right. It seems it would be easier on the eyes, at least on a desktop.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
1 year ago

If only there were an ad to show me how to make $13,000 per year…

Jeff Wood
Jeff Wood
1 year ago

I pay to opt out of ads on all my other subscriptions where possible. Please add a membership level which is ad free. Pretty much makes it unreadable for me with the page shifting and breaking up of the flow of the articles

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 year ago

Question about “related stories” section
Why is it sometimes it’s regular text size in red, sometime large text in black, sometime large bold text in black?

Ben
Ben
1 year ago

“So far, we’ve been delighted to count more than 550 readers as paying Autopian members”

You’re saying I’m one of 550 built with the Autopian member feature? I’ll remember that when it comes time to sell. 😉

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
1 year ago

Well so far I’ve gotten “walk in the forest”, “adopt a cat”, “recycling is creating”, and Cars for sale under $900. Seems about right! Seriously though, if the paid memberships allowed us to see only Torch produced ads, that would be epic! Taillight ruiners for everyone!

Space
Space
1 year ago

I got Mazda, carmax and Panda Express.
Not bad for ads.

Abraham Smith
Abraham Smith
1 year ago

I suggest looking at the membership levels and options that are used by ArsTechnica.com They have a really robust set of options and meaningful levels of support.

Martin Ibert
Martin Ibert
1 year ago

Now if you could add a membership level at a reasonable price, that would be nice.
Like a “rumble seat” tier for $2 a month or $20 a year, with only the exclusive content and the warm fuzzy feeling as benefits.

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

Agreed. $10 per month is a bit too much for me right now, but I could probably stretch to a “pov-spec” $5p/m.

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
1 year ago

IDEA: I love Torch’s fake ads, maybe replace a real ad with a fake on every 20 or so? Keeps us looking at the ads for an easter egg!
Love the communication, keep it up!
Subscriptions: please add a less expensive option with no extra benefits.
Ads: no pop-up or auto-play ads goes a longgg way for not interfering with browsing.

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
1 year ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

Also, a notification when someone replies! Don’t need one for thumbs up, that is annoying, but it would help drive comment engagement

Ben
Ben
1 year ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

I assume this will be part of the followup comment system changes he mentioned.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

It kind of blows my mind this new site has already had *two* crappy commenting features.

Why not just use disqus and be done with it?

BAD EDIT
BAD EDIT
1 year ago

as long as the content stays this good, you have my sword.

Jacob B
Jacob B
1 year ago

Awesome! I’ve always turned my ad blocked off for you guys so I can support you, but there’s never anything that has showed up. While I dislike ads, I am happy to put up with them for the Autopian.
And with so many Jalopnik alums I am not worried at all about this becoming an autoplay video hellscape, because you guys know what that’s like.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 year ago
Reply to  Jacob B

This is my sentiment exactly. I was an avid reader of the old German lighting site since before the Gawker days, so it brings me joy to see this site pick up some of my all-time favorite writers. To that end, I’m willing to put up with ads, even as a paying member, if it keeps this site and its quality content flowing!

Don Mynack
Don Mynack
1 year ago

I’m not buying Bill Macy Performance coilovers, no matter how nuanced or lived-in the performance gets.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
1 year ago
Reply to  Don Mynack

See, they install that Bill Macy Performance coilovers at the factory. There’s nothing we can do about that.

Acid Tonic
Acid Tonic
1 year ago

When you guys get super rich lets hope you can tone the ads back down a bit.

sentinelTk
sentinelTk
1 year ago

I hope you launch in beta with more fake ads. I love me some Bill Macy coilovers!

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 year ago

Please, Please, PLEASE, do not have animated ads! They are the scourge of the internet.

Serial Thriller
Serial Thriller
1 year ago

This. I don’t mind a column of ads down the side or whatever, but for the love of God please no autoplay video ads!

MP81
MP81
1 year ago

But yet we still can’t edit posts or add pictures to them?

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
1 year ago
Reply to  MP81

No, but SOON! You may have missed the very last sentence, which followed the previous one after a *very* large blank gap in my browser.

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

Tom Herman
Tom Herman
1 year ago

Please make it so the text doesn’t jump around as adds come and go. Thank You. And keep up the good work.

Or Some
Or Some
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Herman

Fun fact: Google ranks pages higher if they prevent that jumping problem. The jumping is known as Layout Shift.

Sites with Layout Shift problems will rank lower, because Google is able to measure this and knows it’s bad for users.

Source: am SEO professional.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 year ago

I’m a vinyl member and I totally support this advertisement strategy. I sustain myself on this weird shit. Do whatever you need to keep it running, and as long as I’m not being assaulted by ads a la german lighting site, we’re good.

I know a lot of folks want a cheaper membership, but I understand why it wasn’t rolled out initially. What would it be called anyway? What’s much worse than vinyl? Poncho-style blanket purchased at an OBX surf shop 30 years ago during a vacation where your dad was pissed-off the whole time because the whole trip cost too much and he wishes everyone would stop grabbing souvenirs because we only stopped here for sunscreen… over rusty springs level membership?

Space Ghost
Space Ghost
1 year ago

>> What would it be called anyway?
– Malaise-Era Member
– The Pinto
– Fred Flinstone Floormat

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
1 year ago

Duroplast

Marty
Marty
1 year ago

So… Can paid members (me), opt out of seeing ads???

Chris Sampson
Chris Sampson
1 year ago
Reply to  Marty

yeah, if being ad free is a member benefit i think it could drive membership rates

Genewich
Genewich
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Sampson

What’s fancier than rich Corinthian leather? Whale penis leather, which it the level you have to commit to for a ad-free experience.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 year ago

I loved the fake ad examples in this article!

I’ll probably never click on any ads and generate any revenue for anyone, but I’ll probably continue to contribute to the site and community with my some times witty and enlightening comments.

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