Audizine was founded a decade ago by Anthony Marino, a graphic artist and avid car enthusiast. He started the website as a place where he and his close knit group of friends could discuss all things automotive, namely their passion for Audi.
The site steadily grew and several years ago Anthony decided to focus full-time on building the auto-enthusiast community he started as a hobby. Today, the site boasts a comprehensive editorial section, photo gallery, video gallery and classifieds section, in addition to the forum component which was the initial draw.
The site also sees a sizable amount of traffic each month. Audizine has over 77,000 community members, and nearly 1 million readers visit the site each month, collectively viewing over 5.5 million pages.
Anthony driving a rare Audi Sport Quattro (courtesy Audi of America)
The Challenge: Keeping the Focus on Readers
Anthony initially turned to Google AdSense banners and market-related sponsors to cover the costs of the site, but he chose to remain cautious when it came to other monetization methods.
“My number one responsibility is to the experience and safety of our members,” said Anthony. “While I do have costs to cover, I don’t want advertisements to impede on a reader’s ability to use the site effectively. Early on I made it a point to keep the site design clean and muted. I wanted the content to shine, and certainly not be filled with advertisements. I also went into it with the mindset that I didn’t need to be the biggest Audi-enthusiast site, but I did want to be the best.”
In regards to Google AdSense, that meant keeping ads below the site fold. And in the case of his direct relationships with advertisers, Anthony was careful to check each one out himself to verify a fit for his readers before accepting them onto the site.
Beyond AdSense and banner ads, Anthony is very careful about other monetization methods.
The Solution: Unobtrusive Content Monetization
In late 2010, Anthony found VigLink. The solution’s seamless integration with content was appealing, but he was unsure how much revenue it would actually generate for his site. Because the solution appeared to be so unobtrusive, he decided to sign up and test the solution.
“The VigLink implementation was probably one of the most seamless ones we’ve had,” said Anthony. “And once VigLink was live on the site, I was extremely surprised by the amount of revenue that was coming in, particularly from something that is basically invisible. It’s the proverbial win-win!”
The VigLink service automatically affiliates outbound links to merchants and advertisers on the Audizine site, and also weaves new links into the content when it detects references to products. When a reader clicks on a link in the site’s content that goes to a qualified online merchant, VigLink ensures the site receives a payment or commission on the resulting sale, easily and automatically.
Today, VigLink comprises around 15% of Audizine’s monthly income. VigLink helps Anthony to continue focusing on what matters most to him: keeping Audizine a free-to-use and easy-to-navigate website with great content.