About Vortex Media Group
Vortex Media Group manages a group of 7 automotive web sites, each focused on providing editorial coverage, news and discussion on a particular area of interest. VWvortex (for Volkswagen enthusiasts), Swedespeed (for Volvo enthusiasts), Kilometer Magazine (for European car and motorcycle enthusiasts) and Fourtitude (for Audi enthusiasts) are among the sites the company manages. Collectively the group receives about 45 million page views and 1.5 million unique visitors each month.
Jamie Vondruska launched the company’s first site, VWvortex, in ’98 as a place for Volkswagen enthusiasts like himself to share information. By 2001 just about all of Vondruska’s time was being taken up and he decided to dedicate himself full time to the project.
Their Challenge: Translating Increased Traffic into Revenue
VWvortex’s user base shares ideas, suggestions, and opinions en masse on the site’s forums. Editorial content is also heavily trafficked by visitors looking for the latest scoop on a particular VW model.
The site’s wealth of information eventually led to one heavily trafficked destination and mounting hosting costs (one year the company swapped hosting providers eight times to accommodate increases in traffic). It became clear to Vondruska that it was time to start exploring ways to make money from the forum and translate the content on the site into a revenue stream.
Their Solution: A Multi-Prong Approach to Monetization
Introducing banner ads across the site was a logical first step for Vondruska. He partnered with mostly small and medium sized businesses whose products were particularly relevant to his visitors and allowed them to place ads in specific areas. The results were positive for both Vondruska and his advertisers, and revenue grew. Over time, he also developed a number of strategic eCommerce relationships to supplement the site’s ad revenue. Until 2008, these relationships, along with banner ads, provided 100% of the site’s revenue.
In 2008 they heard about a company called Driving Revenue (now VigLink) that would help them monetize the content VWvortex staff and visitors were creating. Eligible links within content would be automatically affiliated with the right merchant or affiliate network, sending them a commission when visitors left their site and made a purchase.
“Before coming across VigLink, affiliate marketing options just weren’t viable for us,” said Vondruska. “Implementing any given program is time consuming, and hugely risky — you have no idea if it will pay off until after you’ve invested the resources. But there was no downside to using VigLink — implementation was painless and we could see immediately whether it was working.”
Vortex Media Group deployed VigLink across it’s sites in 2008 and have had it in place since. “It has exceeded our expectations in terms of revenue generated and provided a nice boost to the bottom line. And, it’s a revenue stream that doesn’t require additional time on our end. Tracking, billing and collecting revenue can be time consuming, but with VigLink, it’s easy. We get a check every month like clock work.”