Have many Irish internet sites been profitable?

Brendan Burgess

Founder
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44,626
A few people have asked my views on their ideas for new websites. My view is that it is very difficult to make money from a website aimed at the Irish market. I find it hard to think of many websites which do make money.

Companies which provide internet services and the technology behind the internet are usually profitable. But websites, I don't think so.

Criteria for inclusion in this list
Irish developed
Not selling a product - e.g. not a software company e.g. microsoft
Not allied to a company selling a product e.g. ESB
Standalone - not linked to another company - e.g. Irish Times
Generates its income from advertising on the site - or possibly from membership subscriptions


Hostels.com - although it's aimed at the international market

Irish Jobs

Myhome.ie ( although not profitable enough to justify its price)
daft.ie
boards.ie

www.123.ie (The latest publicly available figures for 123.ie show pre-tax profits of €68,000 for the 15 months ended March 2009. )


I am sure that there are other one person operations which give their owners a living, but they are not big employers or profit generators.
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
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44,626
Some other possibilities which I have taken from this list of the most popular sites (Glad to see Askaboutmoney is no 104!)

pigsback.com
rollercoaster.ie
gumtree.ie
carzone.ie
donedeal.ie
buy & sell
adverts.ie
entertainment.ie
toys.ie
open24.ie
compare.ie
weddingsonline
mrs2be
finfacts.ie
beaut.ie
 
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JoeB

Guest
furniture.ie perhaps.


Commercial sites like woodworkers, or even my own website www.eccabinets.com might be profitable and make sense for the owners to maintain.


Is bing, the google rival not developed in Ireland?


Hosting companies, like BlackKnight, or Hosting 365 might make money, but not primarily by virtue of having a website.
 
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Jonathan_L

Guest
Guys,

The simple fact is that the above list just shows what a poor state the Irish Web world is in and why there should be somebody out there taking advantage of this.

The likes of Entertainment.ie, Independent.ie, My Home, Daft, make a lot of money from advertising as well as the sites listed above that provide a service in their own right. BUT - the fact is that all we have is a limited set of well implemented, basically functional sites.

The figures from IACT showed that there was 100 million in advertising spent online last year in this country yet only 15% of that went to Irish sites. You can guarantee that those were the above. The sites above are not particularly targeted but because of the traffic they receive the Ad's..

The reason for this is that there is simply not enough customer targeted websites available that look great, have great functionality and have the targeted client base advertisers want.

Let’s face it, 99% of Irish websites (even if they are mildly successful) look like they were made in somebody’s shed by a 12 year old. I look to the continent and see fabulous websites that are wildly popular and profitable because they look great, the content is great and they provide great functionality and this attracts top advertisers... That’s what we need and why it’s a fantastic market out there right now for teams who can get the implementation of the idea correct..

Yes we are a small market but I can show at least 50 fantastic sites launched into European market sizes comparable to ours that have been successful.

Ad spend is going to continue to grow this year and going forward - Online is a big emerging market in this country and it will only grow as we provide TOP CLASS platforms for brands to associate themselves with.
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
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44,626
furniture.ie perhaps.


Commercial sites like woodworkers, or even my own website http://www.eccabinets.commight be profitable and make sense for the owners to maintain.


Is bing, the google rival not developed in Ireland?


Hosting companies, like BlackKnight, or Hosting 365 might make money, but not primarily by virtue of having a website.

My question is about websites which do nothing else apart from being websites. You sell cabinets - and your website is one more way of finding customers.

I will check out bing. I had heard of it, but not very often.
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
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44,626
Interesting analysis Jonathan


Other than advertising, do Irish sites have any revenue?

One of the websites I was advising wanted to charge a registration fee. I suggested that no users want to pay a fee in Ireland (or probably anywhere else).

I look to the continent and see fabulous websites that are wildly popular and profitable because they look great,

any examples? I am only interested in websites which are useful in themselves. Not ones where I buy something like software from the website owners.
 

Dublin32

Registered User
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28
Wedding websites, the likes of weddingsonline and mrs2be which are useful in terms of forums, blogs etc. offering advice but which also generate significant income through online advertisment directed at the people who use their site.
 

contemporary

Registered User
Messages
494
Guys,


Let’s face it, 99% of Irish websites (even if they are mildly successful) look like they were made in somebody’s shed by a 12 year old.

Im no web designer but I think the 99% figure is over the top.

There are plenty of talented designers out there, its the limitations of those who commission the work, the "I want a all singing, all dancing website for less than €1000"

Its less about the talent & platforms and more about the lack of knowledge & understanding of those who commission the sites imho
 

PaddyBloggit

Registered User
Messages
3,607
A global success (Dublin based):

http://statcounter.com/

It made Aodhan Cullen a wealthy man at a young age. He set it up at the age of 16.

Article here: http://www.techcentral.ie/article.aspx?id=12820


The Collison brothers also spring to mind (perhaps not fully complying with the website criteria of the OP but still worth a mention):

from 'The Irish Times':

Limerick teens sell software firm in multimillion dealTWO TEENAGE Limerick brothers have shared in a multimillion-dollar payday following the sale of their fledgling software company, Auctomatic, to publicly quoted Canadian firm Live Current Media.Patrick (19) and John (17) Collison are two of the four main shareholders in the US-registered company. The sale price is thought to be in excess of $5 million (€3.2 million).


Lots of young talent out there .... pity we're going to be exporting a lot of them!
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
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44,626
Statcounter is exactly the type I was thinking of.

Collison is not what I was thinking of. There are loads of successful software companies. That is a completely different subject.
 
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paulmwatson

Guest
Exceptional

If Statcounter counts then how about Exceptional (getexceptional.com)? From the Contrast guys.

(I'm not really clear on the categorisation of this thread's question. Does the Irish company I work for count? MUZU.tv. Most of our traffic is from the UK though.)
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
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44,626
If Statcounter counts then how about Exceptional (getexceptional.com)? From the Contrast guys.

(I'm not really clear on the categorisation of this thread's question. Does the Irish company I work for count? MUZU.tv. Most of our traffic is from the UK though.)

I have clarified the criteria in the first thread.

how does Muzu generate its income? If it's advertising or subscriptions only, then it's in.
 
D

dahamsta

Guest
Foot.ie is profitable. Costs are minimal because I admin is almost entirely on my own, on my own servers. Strictly speaking it's not standalone because I moved it into my company this year, but it's operated completely separately. The profit ain't large by any stretch of the imagination, but it brings in a handy few quid every month, and occasionally more when I get a direct advertiser.

Statcounter is the golden child in my view, but just demonstrates that the web is ultimately no different to bricks and mortar, in that hard work and even just a little, albeit incremental, innovation pays off. Unfortunately it's the exception rather than the rule; I agree 100% with Jonathan, most Irish sites seem to be operated by large crews that don't work even half as hard as someone like Aodhan, and wouldn't know innovation if it came up and bit them on the This post will be deleted if not edited to remove bad language.

Carzone is a perfect example, they've had one major update on the site in my memory, and that's messy at best. Daft.ie is another example that people consider innovative, but really isn't; it's stagnant, stuck in the mud, if it were an American site it would have been positively buried by now by someone younger and keener. Even Fred Karlsson's DoneDeal.ie seems stuck in a rut, despite handy profits. These sites remind me a lot of eBay*, sites that are certainly successful, but stem their own growth by plodding along.

From personal experience, the main problem is a disconnect between (good) sales & marketers, hackers & designers, and financiers. Getting a team together in Ireland is very, very difficult. Things like Tuesdays don't suit people like me, and things like Collab.ie don't really work because no-one will commit beyond - aaagh - sweat equity. Personally, I'd like a local LinkedIn I can really connect on, with optional local social networking. And when I say social I do mean social, few pints and a chat, not coffee and mutual masturbation over iPhone 7GTis.

There's an opportunity right there. I'll handle the tech if someone else will deal with the suits. :)

adam

* eBay's an odd example, but I've always maintained that it could have been a lot bigger a lot faster if it moved along a bit quicker with web standards. Even today, it's quite awkward to post something there. It should be easy, 1 2 3.
 
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z107

Guest
So you're not interested in websites that sell products, just services. Is that correct?

(Google has pretty much sown up the whole advertising thing, so I suppose you mean adwords income)
 

Satanta

Registered User
Messages
1,574
My question is about websites which do nothing else apart from being websites.
There are quite a few successful Irish webmasters making good profits from advertising revenue (affiliate and PPC), but very few tend to focus on the Irish market as there are so many other more valuable (and less competitive) niches that they can focus on outside of Ireland. It's a volume of numbers issue, where the numbers just don't make it an attractive proposition and simply increase the risks of success.

I'm sure a few of the niche Irish directories are making a profit through registration fees, but I don't have any idea of the specific figures and whether it would be worthy of inclusion on the list.

I will check out bing. I had heard of it, but not very often.
Bing is Microsoft's search engine, now also providing the backend of the Yahoo search engine for organic results. I'm not sure if anything 'owned' by Microsoft could ever be considered as Irish, regardless of where some of the development took place.

http://foot.ie/Personally, I'd like a local LinkedIn I can really connect on, with optional local social networking.
Obviously quite a large difference in the functionality of the site and on the 'networking' element to that of LinkedIn, but if you've not come across www.smallbusinesscan.com you might find it of some interest. It's the closest thing available focused specifically on Ireland at the moment and provides many of the benefits you mentioned (the offline networking is really down to the individual users to drive in their locality, but it can/does/has happened in many locations across the country to great results).
 
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Jonathan_L

Guest
Interesting analysis Jonathan


Other than advertising, do Irish sites have any revenue?

One of the websites I was advising wanted to charge a registration fee. I suggested that no users want to pay a fee in Ireland (or probably anywhere else).



any examples? I am only interested in websites which are useful in themselves. Not ones where I buy something like software from the website owners.

The trick is to make a site that looks amazing, has broad appeal and has functionality that actually engages users. Of course the content has to be done well and seriously ( ie: no coming across like a 12 year old).

As I said previously this has been done to great success on the continent. While I'd love to give some examples of this, I'm looking to implement many of these ideas myself, but I'll say this - Have a look at the Alexa top 100 sites for the following countries: France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark - there are plenty of content sites in there that have been implemented fantastically and that I know for a fact make a lot of money.

I know of one Top 50 Danish site that is made 1.5 million in 2008 and 750k PROFIT during the recession in 2009 - and this is from 600k uniques and 2.5mill page views - and its all content. I know this because I went to the bother of getting financial accounts from the various sites that interested me during scouting sessions earleir this year.

They get superb direct advertisors (Calvin Klein, Vodafone, HP and Marc Jacobs site takover's recently for instance) who pay a lot of money to market directly to the most desirable demographic, and have a LOT of inventory to sell.

They are specifically Danish and the target market is restricted to about 1.5 million people. This is because the site looks amazing and has a desirable concept and great mass appeal content.

Funny that I can spot a Scandinavian site a mile away - they always look amazing - even the amateur blogs.. Thats just one random example of something done right and as I said you can pick several from that countries I mentioned.

I strongly believe that the future is delivering very strong localised versions of concepts that are already popular internationally (but with a twist). Do not ignore the power of being local - it counts for a lot in terms of trust and loyalty and for God's sake target a market.

And I dont just mean copy what Europe does - take an internationally popular site, customize and localize- an Irish E-Bay type site for instance?

Askaboutmoney did it to a degree- although I'd argue it could be so much more than simply a board - what about a fully fledged financial site with expert opinion, user blog's, product comparisons, featured questions and advice, news etc.... and in the process attract the big advertising bucks from financial product providers and dominate that space. You could then even move into print. Why not?

In terms of pay sites- they only work if you have an ultra loyal existing customer base or can provide some tangable benefit to the custoemr to part with their cash for pure content - nothing here exists like that except for the Times...
 
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Brendan Burgess

Founder
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44,626
Hi Jonathan

Some more very interesting comments there.

The trick is to make a site that looks amazing

The problem is that what might look amazing to one person, is offputting to others. A lot of people have suggested that we need to "spice up" askaboutmoney, but they miss the point that the objective is to have a clear site with as little "noise" as possible.

very strong localised versions of concepts that are already popular internationally
Agree. I found The Motley Fool to be a great site and suggested that they should set up one for Ireland, but they said we were too small. So I set up Askaboutmoney instead.

Askaboutmoney - I'd argue it could be so much more than simply a board

It could be, but the objective is to be an advertising-free discussion forum. Its objective is not to make money.

What I am trying to achieve in this thread is to identify the profitable sites and then identify why they are profitable. So when people ask me about their great new idea, I can say "Well study these websites and see why they are a success. Then look at some of the failures and learn from their mistakes."

I am surprised that I have not seen this discussed before. It could be very useful to a lot of people. There is a lot of stuff around about how to develop good websites but they tend to be aimed at businesses which have a product to sell.
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
Messages
44,626
So you're not interested in websites that sell products, just services. Is that correct?

I updated the first post with the criteria

Criteria for inclusion in this list
Irish developed
Not selling a product - e.g. not a software company e.g. microsoft
Not allied to a company selling a product e.g. ESB
Standalone - not linked to another company - e.g. Irish Times
Generates its income from advertising on the site - or possibly from membership subscriptions

To clarify. Some people say - "I have an accounting practice - how can I improve my website". They are selling a service and I am not interested in them.

Others say "I think that Ireland/the World needs a website to provide a resource on native Irish goldfish. And people will pay for access to it and suppliers will pay to advertise on it" This is the type of standalone site where people need advice. Or as suggested above "How can I make an Irish linked-in profitable?"
 

mainasia

Registered User
Messages
119
The UK being next door, sharing common market, cheap sterling and same language causes a lot of competition I'm sure. Shopping online seems to have low penetration rate in Ireland compared to N.America/Asia. There is a lot of scope for growth, it's just how do you make yourself competitive against UK based sites. Make niche shopping sites incorporating some type of lifestyle events...that's the way I would go.

It takes quite a lot of capital to setup a really swish site, you can't just hack a site together anymore and expect it to be successful, it's also fairly risky like any business, Irish investors didn't go for that type of thing going for the real solid stuff like property and bricks and mortar.;)
 
Z

z107

Guest
I still don't quite understand what kind of site qualifies.
To make money, a site is either going to:

- sell a product (amazon, microsoft, etc)
- sell services (irish times, statcounter, porn, gambling, blanknight etc)
- or make money through advertising, probably adwords. Which really falls into the selling a service category - advertising space.

Other than that the purpose isn't to make money (wikipedia, askaboutmoney)

All of the example sites listed in this thread fall into one of these categories.
 
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