The announcement that UK comparison site MoneySupermarket acquired Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert.com site seems to have come as a bit of a shock to some of the financial forums’ active and rather vocal membership, many of whom reacted angrily in Lewis’ own forum to the announcement.
I’m sure both MSE and MoneySupermarket would have predicted something similar to this but is it really such a big deal? let’s look at the facts:
- MSE already has ads and earns a small fortune off commission from financial service providers – else why do you think MoneySupermarket would value the site at £87 million.
- Unlike other comparison sites like confused.com which is owned by insurers Admiral, MoneySupermarket is a public company which earns its crust by referring customers to providers, just like MoneySavingExpert.com
- While Lewis is still actively involved in the website the truth is most of the content on moneysavingexpert.com is probably written by his team of writers, rather than the man himself so whether the forum members realise it or not, MSE is a business, not Martin Lewis’ personal website.
So will the purchase be a good deal for MoneySupermarket? Well the site certainly gets a ton of web traffic and that 7 million strong email list must look pretty tasty to MoneySupermarket’s marketing team. The sites already pretty profitable (turning over £16 million in the last year) and no doubt MoneySupermarket will crank up the monetization as soon as they can.
The real question though is going to be how much of the amazing PR the site gets via Lewis’ media work continues after the sale? Will the BBC and Channel4 let him continue to tout his website everytime he’s called into the news studio to talk about the latest consumer finance issues? Will other websites be so willing to link freely to MSE guides knowing they’re indirectly linking to the company behind those rubbish ads? I think its unlikely.
So I’d say in reality its not a big deal at all, if you understand affiliate marketing and how MSE is currently monetized you’ll realise that its really not so different from a comparison site anyway. I’d say good luck to Martin, he’s built an amazing brand and a really useful website and deserves a decent payday, not to mention he’s donating a big stack of that cash to charity. If anyone wants to put up £87 mil for dailymediainfo.com I’m open to offers;-)