Making the investment in digital real estate

Digital Alberta briefing – December 2020
December 21, 2020
Digital Alberta briefing — January 2021
February 1, 2021
Digital Alberta briefing – December 2020
December 21, 2020
Digital Alberta briefing — January 2021
February 1, 2021
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Making the investment in digital real estate

When it comes to real estate, the most important factor will always be: location, location, location.

As it turns out, the same is true of digital real estate.

Adster Creative is an Edmonton-based digital marketing agency that is employing real estate strategies — including the idea of “flipping” properties — to the online world. In their case, the Adster team is finding websites with a great URL and a decent following, and applying their digital marketing skills to grow the impact and user base of that website.

“Over the last decade, Adster has helped over 500 businesses in Alberta, and worked with around 1,500 businesses across the globe,” says Andrew Forster, VP of Business Development. “During that time, we’ve built up our expertise to make compelling websites that can bring more users in, as well as learning the ins and outs of Google advertising. And we started to see an opportunity.”

Adster partnered with a digital publishing company, Multi Media Management (MMM™ Publishing), and began looking at digital real estate, and the value that could come from acquiring existing websites.

A growing business market

“There’s a lot of people who have created websites and built a following, but they aren’t really making the most use of it,” says Forster. 

For many of these websites, their user base is big enough — or niche enough — to make it an ideal location for advertising. Some of the ad revenues generated by these sites are profitable enough to make the website itself an attractive online business to purchase. (For example, Investopedia — an investing and finance education website created in Edmonton in 1999 — did so well using Google ads, it was acquired by Forbes in 2007.)

There are several online marketplaces for websites, including Flippa, which shows how much advertising revenue different websites are making.

With this in mind, the teams at Adster  and MMM™ have made their mission for 2021 and beyond to look for websites that have the potential to drive more consumer traffic, and therefore become a more attractive place for advertisers.

“We knew how to take these sites and improve them,” says Forster.

Their web acquisitions so far have included over 30 website properties, such as:

  •, an online resource for US students looking to get into college, which Forster said had “good material and a long history.”
  •, which provides resources and a job board for those looking to work from home, is another Adster online property.
  •, which helps millions of oil and gas workers find gainful employment in the transitioning oil and green energy sector (along with 1+million social followers on connected pages).

Forster sees online real estate as a good opportunity for entrepreneurs looking for a new business investment. “Rather than building a new website from scratch, you have the chance to buy an existing site with potential, and see if you can grow it.”

A major benefit of this business model for entrepreneurs living in regions that are more economically depressed is that they are less reliant on local clients.

Advice for entrepreneurs looking to get into digital real estate

David Forster is the CEO of MMM Publishing & Adster Creative. Here, he offers his top tips for others who are looking to buy and grow a website.

#1. Diligence is Key.

Like the purchase of any business, diligence is key. Before any acquisition, you’ll need to carefully review:

  • The history of the business (how long they’ve been online, who is their audience)
  • The website’s revenue model (e-commerce, content, SaaS, lead gen, etc), and how you would leverage your experience to maintain or build off that model
  • How stable the website’s traffic is, or other technical issues that may be hindering the website’s traffic potential
  • Changes in the market or technology that may have rendered a previously lucrative online business into something that will not will not be profitable in the future

Finally, you’ll want to be sure to create a comprehensive sales agreement that covers which assets in particular are included in the sale, along with customer lists / vendor relationships, as well as a possible non-compete and NDA.

#2. Know Thyself.

Adster and MMM have acquired assets from users who were passionate writers or subject matter experts, and whose websites simply grew beyond their ability levels, leaving them frustrated running the day to day and having to deal with technical, supplier and marketing issues. 

#3. It’s Still a Business.

While an online business does offer many attractive benefits, if you aren’t particularly ‘techy’ or versed in online marketing methods, you’ll need to factor in managing and paying a team to do these things for you. These business challenges may prove to be too daunting for some, and along with increased overhead may not make operating the business worthwhile.

More Details

Adster Creative website

MMM™ Publishing website

Contact David Forster on LinkedIn

Meagan Hampel
Meagan Hampel
An expert in technology communications with over 10 years of experience, Meagan is well-versed in translating complex topics into stories that can be understood by anyone. She spent four years working as a science reporter in the UK, covering a diverse range of research and industry breakthroughs. Since 2014, Meagan has led the communications team at Cybera, a not-for-profit, technology-neutral organization responsible for driving Alberta’s economic growth through the use of digital technology. She passionately believes in the importance of increasing the breadth and quality of Alberta’s digital resources, for the benefit of everyone. Meagan is also fascinated by new communications technologies, and the integration of multimedia tools with traditional storytelling.