People often ask me how we pay for all of this… the palatial office, the jet-setting bike journo lifestyle, the cake?
Well, close the blinds, turn up the radio, lean in a little closer, scroll down and I’ll tell you…
IT’S THE ADS!
Yep the ads pay for most of what happens on road.cc, there are some other things too which I’ll tell you about in a moment, but mostly it’s the ads.
You’ve probably noticed that most of our advertisers are in the bike industry either brands, retailers or UK distributors.
Does that mean we’re in their pockets? As if.
I know some of you won’t believe me when I say this but that doesn’t stop it being true.
What matters to our advertisers - more than the numbers of people who come to the site every day is road.cc’s reputation with those users - that’s what they are buying in to. That’s just one of the reasons why our reputation with you is so important to us and why we’re not going to do anything to jeopardise that reputation. Our advertisers wouldn’t expect otherwise - especially when it comes to reviews. They’ll take a bad review on the chin if people trust the good ones.
Cycling related ads - sold to advertisers in bundles of 1,000 views - pay for most of what we do on road.cc but not all of it. We also sell spare ad slots on the ad exchanges - you’ll usually see those ads if you scroll down the page a bit, and you’ll see a lot more of them if you’re using road.cc outside the UK. We’ve set tight rules on what we’ll allow so no autoplay video ads or other annoying formats and we’re fairly picky about what’s being advertised too. Stuff we don’t like does occasionally get through, but if we see it, or you tell us about it we get rid of it.
If the bike ads pay the rent and the wages, and the agency ads keep the lights on, then the affiliate links buy the cake. We don’t make massive amounts of money from them but they’re a nice to have marginal gain from something we’d do anyway.
Nearly all the links on road.cc to somewhere you can buy something are affiliate links - some aren’t, if whoever is selling that product isn’r part of an affiliate linking program and we wouldn’t not link to them if they weren’t. If you click on an affiliate link and buy something we get a small percentage paid back to us. Very small. We’d put those links in anyway because it’s helpful to the person reading the review or buyers guide so if we get something back it’s a bonus. We’re not alone in using affiliate links - most websites use them, and certainly all of our competitors, we’re just telling you.
The main places they appear on the site are in reviews and buyers guides and our approach is to find and link to the best delivered in the UK price. It can be a slow process because the best advertised price is not always the best UK delivered price so we actually have to go and stick stuff in baskets to make sure. In fact it’s become such a labour intensive process that we’ve now signed up to an automated system Monetiser101 -powers our Daily Deals section and the price comparison service we are plugging in to our reviews.
It’s still tasked with pulling in the best delivered in the UK deal and we’re confident that in the vast majority of cases that’s what it’ll do. If you can find something cheaper just stick a link to it in the comments.
The big advantage for us, apart from the money, is that it will free up time for our reviews production team, the big advantage for anyone reading the reviewer is that that widget is constantly updating so there will always be a choice of relevant deals whereas at the moment we have no way of knowing if the the retailer we’ve linked to still offers the best deal, or is out of stock etc, etc.
Any downsides? Well the Monetiser widget can only read data that is uploaded to the affiliate networks so if a retailer is not part of a supported affiliate network it wont pull in their price. That said, we reckon we’ve got the vast majority of online retailers covered. If Monetiser can’t find a retailer selling whatever it is then nothing will show and we go back to doing it the old fashioned way of trying to find a shop selling it online and linking to them.
…funny how the cake bit of the convo always seems to be the longest
Any other ways we make money?
We are just starting to explore the idea of sponsored bits of the site - Cycle Surgery sponsor #mycyclingweekend, but there are only so many things that are sponsor-able without boundaries starting to blur in ways that would make everyone uncomfortable
Well you can buy road.cc cycling kit, or a road.cc bell… we’ve got plenty of those
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.