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After Adding Ads, Climate Publisher The Cool Down Finds Early Profitability

In 2023, climate publisher The Cool Down set a goal of reaching 10 million monthly unique visitors, aiming to prove in its first full year of operation that it could reach a scaled audience of climate enthusiasts.

After reaching nearly 30 million unique visitors in December, it has since set itself a new goal for this year: better monetizing that readership.

“I believe in audience development, and that it takes time to build brands and find out what people value,” said cofounder and CEO Dave Finocchio. “But now we are ready to start expanding.”

The Cool Down is one of a variety of publishers looking to capitalize on growing consumer and commercial interest in climate change reporting. The media company, launched in July 2022, produces a blend of climate change coverage and reviews of green consumer products, betting that people will buy environmentally friendly products—particularly if they can save money by doing so—and that The Cool Down can build a sustainable business by recommending them.

Direct sales teams and B2B efforts

From its launch through June 2023, The Cool Down operated without any ads, making money only through affiliate content.

In June, with its audience growth pacing ahead of schedule, the publisher turned on open-exchange programmatic ads. It has turned a profit on that revenue every month since, said Finocchio.

The company raised $5.7 million in seed capital and still has most of it, according to Finocchio. However, its programmatic revenue has allowed The Cool Down to preserve those funds and invest its profits into the business.

By the end of 2023, the company was generating 75% of its revenue from its ads business, according to Finocchio, with the remaining 25% coming from affiliate content. It generated $1 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2023 and is projected to bring in $4 million to $5 million in annualized revenue in 2024.

To do so, with an established audience, 200,000 free newsletter subscribers and six months of profitability under its belt, the publisher plans to expand its commercial capacities. 

This year, it will grow its team of 10 full-time staff with the addition of a direct sales team, which will go to market beginning in the second quarter with newsletter sponsorships and integrated campaigns.

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