ADOTAS — I had a recent chat with Benjamin Christie, the founder and managing director of Gourmet Ads, an advertising network specializing in the food, wine and beer verticals. Powered by Adify, the company incorporated in June 2008.
How did you decide this was the right market?
With my experience at de Groots Media as well as being a food blogger for a number of years as well as being in the media I knew how online advertising worked. Having a background in the food industry, it was natural that I started an advertising network in the food space. Wine was the perfect pairing to go with the food vertical.
Food is something that will continue to ride through the economic cloud. Sure there might be a downturn with some gourmet product ranges, but generally people still need to eat and companies still need to drive sales.
Who is your target audience?
For our food and wine verticals it’s very much a female demographic from 27 – 55 who cook at home, drink wine 2 -3 times a week and buy quality ingredients and cookware for home. For some of our other verticals such as beer and barbeque the skew is certainly male.
You launched this in Australia and are now spreading globally. You said your network’s competitors can also be its partners. What did you mean by that?
I regard our direct competitors as all the websites competing for the advertising dollar in our vertical. These could be small sites or blogs, through to national publishers. By publishers joining the Gourmet Ads network and outsourcing their advertising sales to us, this gives is the opportunity to act as a co-operative, providing agencies a compelling media buy, while providing steady revenue stream for our publishers.
I like to say that everyone thinks they are involved in the Manhattan Project. You seem to think you just find a niche and just want to be the best at it. Why is that your attitude and what perspective do you have about this niche that others maybe don’t?
We have a saying back in Australia “Jack of all trades master of none”, so I can believe that you can own and dominate a niche opposed to doing everything. I think this is why some of the horizontal networks are struggling in the market place because they have no identity and are trying to be everything to everyone. It’s impossible. Gourmet Ads is about food and wine. Our advertisers know that and this is why they advertise with us. In the years to come we may look at other verticals, but they will always be closely related to food and wine.
I think one of our advantages is being the boy from out of town. We take a global perspective, whereas a lot of American companies tend to think just about America. This has been evident in conversations with publishers that are shocked to learn they actually have a non-American audience and that we can monetize it.
Are you making a profit and do you expect to seek funding?
Although still very much in the start-up phase we are profitable. This is very much due to the lean organisational structure of the company at present and the outsourcing that we do. Gourmet Ads will most probably seek funding mid 2010 with the capital being put towards three areas of the business. These being;
Gaining the advertising rights to the premium publishers around the world.
Acquiring and operating successful publishers within the network.
Expanding into growth regions such as South East Asia.
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