August 01 2013 10:32PM
It's still the summertime doldrums here at the Nation. With little news expected in the next few weeks before things heat up prior to the season starting articles involve projections, speculation, rumours and British people bombing down hills after a wheel of cheese.
And today we present an article on the new trash button and what it means to society. If you want an article about EV/60 or something else substantiative keep on truckin soldier. If you want to know why we created a trash button that will probably lead to fist fights in the comments section for all eternity read on.
This is an article about the business of the Nation and nothing more. You have been warned.
Back in 2011 the Nation Network signed a landmark advertising partnership with Post Media and OilersNation.com. Under the terms of this agreement the Edmonton Journal sold OilersNation advertising inventory along with it's own EJ inventory to companies all over Northern Alberta and beyond. They are far and away the industry leaders of monetizing news sites so it made perfect sense to try and make something work.
It was a negotiation that dwarfed the Treaty of Versailles in it's complexity, term of negotiation and number of soldiers in attendance. But we got a deal done and it worked pretty darn well.
Until the lockout.
GOD BLESS THE LOCKOUT
The 2013 lockout was an absolute bitch for any business involved with Professional Hockey to any degree. Bars and restaurants lost money. People who sold hockey apparel lost their shirts* both literally and figuritively. Media folks tasked with covering the NHL sat about twiddling their thumbs and cursing their luck.
And here at the Nation we took it right in the beans. Not so much in terms of traffic - somehow that remained miraculously steady. But more in terms of trying to build our revenues which in turn allows us to continue to lead the league in bloggers under payroll.
We can't count the number of times we heard potential advertisers say "I really like what you guys have to offer here but I want nothing to do with the NHL at all during the lockout. Frankly they can go (words deleted to protect the children.)"
And so we struggled along. We did a wage rollback across the board but didn't let any writers go. We scrambled and sold off organs to fund the burn until the season came back and then we waited for our advertising partnership to start ramping up again.
In our subsequent chats with the EJ they made the very rational observation. "The local market for hockey related advertising is still in the doldrums. We will continue to do our best to move units for you guys but it is going to take some time for things to recover."
NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT
"Time for things to recover?" That's all very well and good for a publicly traded media congolomerate with private planes, private executive washrooms and DVDs of Howard Stern's "Private Parts" on every table in the building. But for the Nation Network - a double dog dare turned into a blog turned into a beer - we have no such luxuries.
And so we took the massive gamble of ending our advertising partnership with Post Media back on June 1. That is kind of like quitting your job in Green energy investments to do hockey blogging and other internet jiggery and throwing your entire future down the toilet.**
We rolled the dice and undertook the very risky play to sell our own advertising in house and set about looking for a sales executive. In the meantime your ol' pal Wanye and Co set about selling advertising ourselves and hitting the mean streets of Edmonton advertising proposals in hand.
What makes us think we can do a better job than a building full of sales professionals at Post Media? Passion we suppose. Passion and determination and a lack of brains. While we combed the internets, retained head hunters and offered everyone wearing a suit within 100 miles an interview we were able to land 5 new advertisers and kickstart growth again.
We are very grateful to these advertisers for their support.
AND THIS BRINGS US TO TRASH
You may have noticed that we now have a "negative props" or a trash button on the site now allowing everyone to give the big ol thumbs down to any comment they see fit. This was something we long held off on doing for fear that it will turn into a 24/7 flame war with everyone trashing everyone and calling for permanent bans on the biggest offenders.
Yet "branding a trash button" remained on our list of things we could do to run cool advertising campaigns for advertisers. So one day we sat down and made a list of commercial waste disposal companies we could approach with the idea and got to steppin.
And amazingly the first company we approached thought it was a great idea. The guys over at Construction Waste Disposal saw the value of the concept straight away. "As a company that operates commercial trash bins there are few opportunities to brand ourselves in a memorable way to Albertans. The idea of a trash button - people trashing something and seeing the CWD logo afterwards - is a hilarious idea and reinforces the connection between our company and trash. It's our business and we take it very seriously. Will this campaign result in more awareness for our company and more revenue down the road? Only time will tell. We are thrilled to give it a shot."
AND SO HERE WE ARE
The 2013-14 NHL season approaches and it is a make it or break it time for the Nation Network. Coming off a lost season that saw more money lost than Blockbuster Video in its final years we are fully in control of our own destiny. We have finally found the Sales Executive to take us to the next level and he starts on Tuesday. NationHQ is ramping up on the back end with Kent Wilson, Thom Drance and Jon Willis leading the way and getting our content ready to be the top of the pops in the coming season.
We have some deals on the table to add some amazing writers to the other sites and some opportunties in radio and podcasting are back on the table. We are finalizing a deal to buy a website and nearly double our traffic overall. And who knows you may even hear your ol' pal Wanye chitty chatting away in our squeaky pre-pubescent voice in the near future.
Anything and everything will get a good look in our quest to make the Nation into a powerhouse business. This means 100 writers under contract, 100 million pageviews a year and $200k to Edmonton charities annually. Rather than allowing things to recover naturally we are going all in and publicly stating our goals on a website that now gives people the ability to trash what we are saying and will remember our words for all eternity.
We can't overstate how much appreciate everyone reading our sites, buying our gear and paying 1% attention to our ads.
We here at the Nation Network are ready to go.
**See Gretz, Wanye circa 2009.