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The US website making ad-funded journalism about the environment work

The Cool Down is the fastest-growing top 50 news website in the US.

By Clara Aberneithie

A US news website taking a positive approach to coverage of the environment is making $5m a year out of programmatic advertising.

Negative news about global warming has been blamed for making many consumers turn off from news.

The Cool Down takes a more positive approach with a focus on environmentally friendly technology, innovation and advice.

The climate-focused news outlet plans to use information gathered from its newsletter readership to establish a consultancy-type platform for sustainability-orientated companies.

Press Gazette spoke to chief operating officer and co-founder Ryan Alberti who said: “We can get that first-party audience data from our newsletter and give brands a chance to understand audiences and shape their sustainability strategies.”

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The Cool Down experienced the fastest growth in visits (up 52%) out of all US newsbrands from January to February, according to Press Gazette analysis of Similarweb data.

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Launched in July 2022, it is also the fastest-growing site year-on-year (2023-2024) in the US, growing 421% to 30.4 million visits per month in March. It is already the 35th biggest news website in the States.

With a background in sports reporting at Bleacher Report, Alberti said he learned how to track what topics people care about.

He explained: “At Bleacher Report we were really at the forefront of the movement to use analytics in a sophisticated way to find out what people wanted to read about.

“So, we’ve applied that same model here because we wanted to give people what they’re interested in, not what we think they should be interested in.”

The Cool Down team hope that as they build a clear picture of their audience through newsletters, they will be able to profit by offering their insights to companies who want to sell sustainable products.

The publisher says its current revenue run rate is $5m per year, which it hopes to increase to $12m per year in 2025.

Alberti said: “95% of our revenue so far has been from pure programmatic ads, I mean we didn’t even have a sales team until this month.

“But that is not our long-term model, our newsletter subscribers are.

“We’re currently just under 300,000 subscribers, adding 50,000 new subscribers a month, and we see newsletters as our ultimate growth vehicle.

“Having that newsletter audience means that you’re not living and dying at the whims of Google and other algorithmic platforms.”

There are no plans to introduce paid subscriptions, instead relying on advertising and the insights platform.

Alberti added: “Consumers and brands alike are becoming more attuned to climate change and we’re offering a bridge, we’re filling that space.”

When asked about how they attracted visitors, Alberti said: “We saw a strategic white space, a news outlet which leans away from doom and gloom and avoids heavily politicised content.”

Alberti said there has not been a big PR push thus far, instead relying on founders spreading the word via podcasts and some social media promotion.

He claimed: “If we add 50,000 newsletter subscribers a month, 20,000 to 30,000 of those are organic and the other are from paid campaigns.”

The permanent team currently comprises ten people, half of whom work on editorial and half on the business side. The Cool Down also employs up to 30 freelance writers.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

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