For those who have been following our journey here at CarExpert and previously at CarAdvice, you would know we are staunch believers in independent, fair and just automotive content.

    In fact the main reason that CarExpert was started was to bring back the unbiased content we felt went astray post the acquisition of our previous business (now Drive).

    By that we mean content that isn’t influenced, manipulated, or otherwise altered as a result of commercial pressures. As you know, we have no traditional display advertising, but we do have products that we sell to the car companies we write about (OEMs).

    Why do we need to make money?

    We have a team of nearly 30 full-time staff in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. Although we are all passionate about cars and the automotive industry (and would do this for free if it was viable), we are also a business that needs to pay salaries and bills.

    How do we do that, and how do we ensure commercial outcomes don’t impact our content?

    The answer to that is pretty simple. We connect car buyers reading our content with the car companies who are selling the cars. This is done using contextual text links (links about a Ford Ranger in a Ranger review, for example) first and foremost, but also with an array of new products currently on-site and soon-to-be deployed that help promote our articles which have these links.

    The idea here is simple. Our research shows the vast majority of consumers reading our content are in-market car buyers at the pointy end of their research, and looking to purchase a car in the near future.

    Being able to help them take the next step from researching to connecting with an OEM is commercially viable for us, and beneficial to consumers.

    If you’ve been on our website long enough, you would have noticed the Download a Brochure, Book a Test Drive, and Find a Dealer buttons in most of our content.

    These links are presented in the most consumer-friendly way that is relevant to the content. The links are inserted automatically into certain reviews of cars as part of a commercial agreement with particular OEMs.

    Our commercial and editorial teams are completely seperate, and you’ll notice these links exist in positive reviews, average reviews, and negative reviews. The links are paid because we know there’s a right car for every buyer, and if we can help that buyer along their journey from research to purchase while keeping the lights on, everyone wins.

    There’s no pressure on the editorial team to favour cars for which these links exist – in fact, the majority of time our team is largely unaware which reviews will feature these links because they’re automatically inserted after publishing.

    You would have also noticed more recently the Have You Considered? boxes that use our images and content to drive people looking at a particular car to also consider its competitor.

    These blocks serve two purposes. The first is to inform buyers of alternative options; to make (for example) a Ford Ranger buyer consider, and potentially test drive an Isuzu D-Max as well.

    Do we get paid for that? Yes. Does it affect what we write about the Ford Ranger? Absolutely not.

    We also have the CarExpert Experience Centre, which is a brand agnostic real-life showroom where consumers can come, see, touch, feel, and drive vehicles from dozens of manufacturers without a salesperson nearby. The companies participating in that centre pay to be there, but it does not influence our thoughts on the cars or their competitors – nor will we recommend a car that’s there over one that isn’t.

    In fact, those who visited our centre in Sydney last year would know our experts recommended the right car for the right person, regardless of whether it was in the Experience Centre.

    Of course if a car is on-hand, there’s a good chance we’ll talk about it at length and demonstrate its features.

    We will carry that same sentiment of trust and expert advice into our next Experience Centre when it launches in Melbourne during 2022.

    As the pandemic eases, we will also continue attending automotive launches in Australia and abroad. OEMs pay to transfer us to these events, and also cover the cost of our accommodation and meals.

    Flights within Australia are normally economy flights, while international flights are normally business class flights.

    Why business? Although they’re held in interesting places, launches are generally carried out at light speed – land, drive, write, and hop back on the plane. Being able to get off a plane and drive a car with a clear-ish head doesn’t just make for better content, it makes for fewer car crashes.

    We know trust is the only real currency we have with our readers. Without that, we would not exist. That’s why we’re looking to launch new products that make us the go-to site when it comes to real-world new-car transactional pricing data and purchasing information. More on that exciting news during the first quarter of 2022.

    This year we will also launch our new showrooms, best buys, and discovery tool. These new products will bring a much-needed change to how we show content in our showrooms, plus creating a tool for people unsure what cars they should look at.

    These tools will also have an ‘also consider’ or similar elements to them which will be commercialised, but only in a way that benefits the consumer along their car purchasing journey.

    At the end of the day, CarExpert remains a clean and concise site for new car buyers looking for the most unbiased and most detailed reviews – as well as car enthusiasts wanting daily news, and keen to learn about the industry without the marketing spin that sometimes comes with it.

    In a perfect world we would do this for free, but the nature of an expensive business like ours is that it must pay for itself.

    We do our best to make sure what we monetise doesn’t detract from the usability of the site, or affect the content itself.

    That is and always will be, our promise to you.

    Alborz Fallah

    Alborz is the founder of CarAdvice (sold to Nine and now Drive) and co-founder of CarExpert. He is an honourary adjunct professor & entrepreneur in residence at the University of QLD. He loves naturally-aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s and is in denial about the impending death of the internal combustion engine. The best way to reach him is via Instagram.

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