Rogers Communications Inc. has sold personal-finance website MoneySense to Toronto-based Ratehub Inc., the owner of an online comparison site for financial products as well as mortgage brokerage CanWise Financial.
It’s the first such deal announced since Rogers put eight of its magazines up for sale in the summer, some of them digital-only titles such as MoneySense. The personal-finance website currently attracts approximately 700,000 unique visitors a month on average, Rogers said. Information provided to prospective bidders indicated that the site was expected to attract roughly $1.5-million in digital advertising and sponsorship revenue, up from $1.4-million last year.
“We’re excited to be able to bring a modern business model that’s sustainable, that will grow, into an industry that is struggling to find funding in 2018,” Ratehub co-founder Alyssa Furtado said. “This publication is going to be around and will do well, for many many years.”
Ratehub, which was founded in 2010, secured $12-million in venture-capital funding in January of this year. Part of the company’s plans for MoneySense include investing more in video content and bringing in revenues associated with providing customer leads to advertisers.
Ratehub.ca makes only 10 per cent to 20 per cent of its revenue from conventional digital advertising such as banners; the rest comes from deals with companies that pay a commission when Ratehub readers click from that site to learn more about a particular rewards credit card, for example, or sign up for other financial products. Also sometimes referred to as affiliate marketing, this type of deal appeals to marketers looking to direct more of their spending to advertising that demonstrates a tangible result.
MoneySense has already partnered with Ratehub in the past – for example, embedding its credit-card comparison tool into the magazine’s site; the new owners envision doing more of that, but because its focus is broader personal-finance content and not just product comparisons, they expect MoneySense will continue to be more reliant on standard ads than Ratehub is.
“The editor has the final decision on content. After an article has been written … then those affiliate links, and only then, can be added,” Ms. Furtado said.
The deal is expected to close Dec. 1. Financial terms were not disclosed. Rogers will continue to produce MoneySense content, sell advertising and operate the website until the end of January in order to assist with the transition. Most of the content on the site is created by freelancers; no Rogers employees are moving as part of the acquisition.
MoneySense was launched in 1999 and ceased to exist as a printed magazine in 2016, when Rogers also transformed Canadian Business, Flare and Sportsnet into digital-only publications. At the time, the Toronto-based telecommunications and media company also sold some French-language titles and cut back the print schedules of Maclean’s, Chatelaine and Today’s Parent. Except for Sportsnet, all those titles are now for sale, as is Hello! Canada, which Rogers does not own, but publishes under an agreement with a Spanish company.
The Globe and Mail first reported in August that Rogers had hired the investment-banking arm of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce to manage the sale of the magazines and of its custom-content group, which produces in-house magazines and other marketing content for various brands. Rogers approached Ratehub about the asset in the summer, co-founder James Laird said.
Earlier this month, Rogers came close to selling the other seven magazines – excluding MoneySense – to the publisher of The Hockey News. That deal fell apart at the last minute.
Rogers declined to comment on the other magazines.
“It was important to us to find a good home for MoneySense, where the brand would continue to flourish and deliver high-quality content,” Rogers Media president Rick Brace said in a statement.
In June, Rogers laid off roughly one-third of the staff in its publishing division, or 75 full-time employees. Magazines and newspapers have struggled for years with declining print advertising revenues, with digital advertising failing to make up the difference even as it grows since so much of the digital market is dominated by the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon.