As I wrote about a month ago, I decided to jump upon a short-term opportunity and set up a "hot topic" website for the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline. NHLFakeTrades.com was inspired by a column by Eric Duhatschek of the Globe & Mail, who looked at the frenzy with which hockey fans jump on even the sketchiest of information about potential hockey trades, and wondered if some cash could be made by simply and forthrightly writing about fictitious trade scenarios.
This meshed nicely with an exercise I went through a few years ago to create a Random Trade Generator, so in the course of a few hours I went ahead and registered the domain, set up a WordPress site using (as I do at Hockey Gear HQ) the wonderful Genesis framework with the News theme, and freshened up the Trade Generator for 2012.
So how did it do, in terms of traffic, revenue, and accuracy of the trade projections? Let's take a look...
Here's the data from Statcounter:
With very little hype (I dropped links a couple times over at OTF, and sent out a few via social media) I'd say this did OK, drawing in just over 1,600 visitors in total, for over 2,500 page-views. Considering the off-the-cuff manner in which this all came together, that's not too shabby.
To monetize the site, I went with a very basic strategy - 3 Google Adsense boxes. One on the sidebar, one right underneath the Trade Generator's output on the main page, and another in the footer.
Total earnings? $11.47, based on 19 click-throughs of those ads. That's about half a penny per page-view, however, which ain't half bad. It just barely offset the $10 I spent to register the domain name, but of course doesn't cover the time & effort I put into the site.
Trade Projection Accuracy
The scheme I used to generate scenarios was extremely simple - I simply created a spreadsheet listing the pending Unrestricted Free Agents on teams which were out of the playoffs on that day (February 15, I think), and then had scenarios which either had them staying with their current team, or being traded to any of the other teams which were in the playoff hunt.
Obvious stuff, right?
In the end, that strategy led (once again) to a 5.5% accuracy rate, which is almost twice as accurate as what HockeyBuzzHogwash.com tracked for Eklund a few years back.
In other words, a little dash of common sense yields scenarios which are more likely to come true than those you hear from the internet's assorted anonymous rumor-mongers.
With actual planning and development ahead of time, I absolutely think a dedicated site for purely speculative NHL trade conversation could not only be profitable, but highly entertaining for readers. There are a few possibilities which jump out at me for directions such a site could go in:
1. You could develop posts for individual trade scenarios with polls and discussion (plugged into social media like Facebook or Twitter) as to the viability of that individual deal.
2. Another idea to "gamify" such a site would be to implement Predictive Markets, rewarding the users who show the most savvy in discerning what trades actually go down. It would be interesting to cut off such markets early on Trade Deadline Day, and just how accurately the market did overall.
3. Advertising could probably be more specifically targeted, i.e. ads for team/player jerseys relevant to the discussion at hand, rather than just pure Adsense.
Now, will I find the time to do such a thing for the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline? Probably not, but we'll see!