I am posting today to let you know about some changes on Boards.ie and also to re-introduce myself. Some of you might remember me from a few years back when I was involved with Distilled SCH (then Distilled Media), and a Director at Boards.ie.
I have not posted a whole lot over the years… but I’m back! Why?! Well... Boards has moved around a bit over the past few years and it's not done yet..!
When Distilled Media first invested in Boards.ie, it was clear that the potential was always massive but the opportunity was never really clear. At the time, ad revenue was the go-to option. Boards was (and still is) one of the most visited sites in Ireland. But monetisation by 'banner ad’ was always going to be tricky, and there needed to be other options.
So the first attempt, you may remember, was Boards Deals and from a revenue perspective, it was a great success. However, ultimately it was not a space that we were comfortable being in. Why?
Well our position was - 'if we put on a deal - we honour the deal’. That meant we ended up paying out on deals that went south… which unfortunately happened a lot! So the short term successes we saw with Deals were going to have a long term impact on Boards.ie - so we gave up that particular battle.
We then carved out Adverts.ie into a separate company, which grew to over 1 million registered users in a 3 year period - a massive success and a site that still holds a leading position in marketplace sales.
Boards.ie Ltd was then moved into The Journal Media Ltd because we thought it made sense to put two 'content publishers' together from an advertising perspective - again this was tricky because Boards.ie is a different proposition to The Journal and, from an advertising perspective, can sometimes have its challenges.
This brings us to today and why I am here. Boards.ie still has a massive part to play in Ireland’s online conversation. But over the years, it got a little lost at sea. Ad revenues are not enough to keep the headcount required to continue to maintain the site, let alone new product initiatives, and as a result things just went into maintenance mode.
So … Boards.ie needs a renewed focus - and to move forward, it needs to become more commercial.
I guess your first question may be, ‘Why more commercial and what does that mean?’ Well, currently we have 4 full-time members of staff across community and platform, who are now down to halftime work, as our ad revenue has collapsed. This is largely down to covid and ongoing dropping ad revenues - but the reality is that we cannot survive on banner ads alone … especially with all the ad blockers
Let me share some of our initial ideas for commercial projects -
- B:funder - ‘now we’re fund’n’. Building THE most trusted online fundraising platform in Ireland. Communities giving to communities.
- Better ads. That does not mean more ads… just better. Perhaps we can get to a self-serve platform… but for now, just better and a little more ’native’ ads.
- Subscriptions. We have a subscription model there already. It doesn’t give you a whole lot - and we think we can make that more meaningful and something that people would want to subscribe to.
- Boards. Our platform. We need to update it asap. Not just to commercialise… but the plasters over years of tech have plasters, and it will fail without intervention. What that means right now, I am not sure, but it does mean change. Not bad change…. But a 20+ year-old forum with its fair share of band-aids and a high level of traffic every day, means we need to fix that fast, before the system risks cracking… and then crumbling apart.
OK - That is probably the most I have written in a long time… so apologies for the long message.
I'll close by saying that I believe Boards is an integral part of Ireland’s online voice - and I want to make sure that it is here to stay. To do that we need to change things a bit - and we’re going to need your help.
Look forward to talking!
First time poster…. Will try to be a more-time poster