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Online verticals turn content into cash


WWelcome to

Traditionally, newspapers have relied of advertising-designated sections such as Travel, Automotive and Shopping as revenue tools. In addition, special one-time sections such as the Olympics and Christmas gift guides are used to drive advertising revenues when the opportunity presents itself.

Today, a similar opportunity is presenting itself online, namely the use of online verticals. We hear of media organizations everywhere launching careers, automotive and parent sites almost daily. It's a trend we must watch closely. is the Star Media Group's most-recent addition to our growing family of verticals, which already includes Health Zone, Wheels, Parent Central and more. On October 4, 2010, the gates to financial empowerment were opened. This unique web site — which includes Canadian-focused content, interactive tools and an online community — gives average Canadians all they need to gain control of their finances.

Star Media Group, led by its flagship property by the Toronto Star, will ensure has the content necessary to help make financial dreams come true.

“pPeople are overloaded with complicated financial information and often don't have the tools available to fully understand how the news of the day will impact personal finances,” says Adam Mayers, editor of “With fresh content offered daily, will be a trusted resources giving visitors the tools they need to be successful.” will cover a wide range of financial topics such as personal budgets, savings strategies, investment and retirement planning. It's designed to have something for all age groups, from help 20- to 30-year-olds get on the right financial track to investment strategies for baby boomers.

Because is a free-access offering, the business model lies in securing financial category advertisers who are looking to reach this audience. Think about it: What financial advertisers are not looking to reach an audience wanting to build their financial security through a longer-term plan? People who visit are an attractive audience to the financial world.

In short, we're bringing a much-sought-after group to advertisers. is barely one month old and already we're thrilled with the results. Before it had even reached the one-month stage, had attracted just over 600,000 unique visits and recorded close to 2 million page views. Scotiabank has sponsored the launch, ensuring the site has been a financial contributor since it started.

Obviously, these types of verticals are all about the content experience. To date, our most successful editorial pieces have been:

  • Freedom 45 series: the story of one family and how they will plan to reach financial freedom by age 45.

  • Why is gas $1.10 a litre: The price of a barrel of oil has not risen near as much as the price of fuel at the gas pumps - just what's behind the increase?

  • Ways to avoid buying the wrong house: simple tips for the new home buyer.

While we are pleased with the results so far, we continue to tweak and adjust the site as required.

Clearly, there is no magic bullet with these ventures. But there are a few tips we would offer that at least help the chances of success, including:

  • Launch with a strong multi-media campaign. We used a mix of traditional and online media to build the brand. It included radio, out-of-home, advertising in our own publications and on our own websites. We also took to the streets to reach the commuter crowd and took sponsorship positions for events such as “Word on the Street,” a local street book festival.

  • Use the brand across a number of different platforms. While has been launched as a stand-alone website, we have also branded the Toronto Star's business section on Monday as Moneyville. In addition, we use the home page of to direct traffic to the site. Of course, you can visit directly. The combination of platforms is a receipt for success.

  • Start with the advertiser in mind. It's crucial that these free web sites have a clear financial opportunity. After significant investigation, we concluded that the financial marketplace for the average consumer was underserved and that advertisers would support this audience. Before the launch, we had numerous discussions with potential sponsors for the site, ultimately reaching an agreement with Scotiabank as our launch partner.

  • It is vital that you offer users a good mix of content on a daily basis. We find a balance of relevant news, personal insights on financial decisions and helpful guides is resonating well with our audience.

  • Bloggers help. We are pleased with how well the community is responding to the bloggers that we have on the site and we may add more soon.

  • Last, in order to draw attention to our calculators and discussions, we need to present them to our users in a contextual setting. For that reason, we will be revisiting some of our templates to enable us to better showcase all relevant content and tools to our users.

Most certain your news organization is playing in this space. We would love to hear from you on what verticals are working and what tips you have to make them even more successful.

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