Tankspot acquired by ZAM (wowhead)

Tankspot has “joined the ZAM network” which probably means they have been acquired. ZAM is the corporation which owns wowhead and other domains.

Firstly a warning: if you are a blogger, do not think you can automatically make money from WoW blogging. Don’t read this and think “whoa, a pot of gold, all I have to do is repeat what tankspot did”. You need seriously large amounts of traffic before you can monetise beyond a coffee or two a week, and what tankspot has done has taken enormous effort. Remember that Projectlore.com died. Write because you enjoy it, not for profit. If you want to make money then you should learn how to trade  CFDs, currencies or futures contracts, go to Uni and get a better job, or create a site that’s uniquely valuable (blogs usually do not have a distinctive offer). In short, do something that’s intended to make money and scales up more easily than advertising revenue from pageviews. Anyhow, end of warning.

I say ‘probably’ because the domain name tankspot.com is still registered to Patrick Ciderhelm, according to whois checked just now.

On not knowing the details of transaction

I do not know if the transaction is protected with a non-disclosure agreement or whether the two parties of ZAM and Patrick will want to talk about the transaction publicly, anyhow. We may or may not get more specifics on the deal. Neither party has an obligation to disclose. Here’s ZAM’s announcement and tankspot’s.

Interestingly, my first response was not as a long-time tankspot reader but instead as a businessman: well done. You made some money from the internet, Patrick, and you worked your ass off for years before accomplishing it.

My second response was as a tankspot reader and sometime poster, which is that I felt I had some right to know what the deal entailed. I have a sense of belonging to tankspot, and am a paid sponsor because I wanted to help that community with its endeavours. I feel like I am part of what has been sold. My traffic has been sold, along with that of millions of others who visit tankspot.

On brand in the social media

Fortunately, and cleverly no doubt if Patrick had courted (or been courted by) more than one buyer, it was wowhead who bought tankspot and I like wowhead. I like the brand. I think their technology is good, and they show a genuine effort to maintain a community orientation. They’ve approved a few links back to this site which I’ve requested, such as promoting the strict-10 interview.

If curse had bought tankspot, I don’t know if I’d have the same response. The curse network has no personality, and I have no connection with their brand. That said, I love their addon downloader and do not use wowhead’s version. Curse seem to be more money-oriented, they appear more commercial than wowhead.

Marketing folk will appreciate that brand identity in the social media is their personality, which is reflected in the way the forums work, the moderation rules, the positioning of advertising, whether they send newsletters via email with ads in them and so on, and if someone personally respond to my emails. In this regard, wowhead has mantained a personality of geeky coolness whereas Curse is much more elusive to define. Therefore, I can identify wowhead and relate to them but cannot say the same for Curse. Further comparison: wow.com has no personality at all because it has  so many voices and has a poorly constructed information architecture.

Possible transaction elements

If Patrick has retained the asset, and his and ZAM’s releases mention “all staff are retained”, it is implied that tankspot has become a site for ZAM’s advertising network. This is distinct to the site itself being purchased as an asset (which is what Curse did when buying worldofraids.com).

Perhaps Patrick has negotiated to retain ownership of the domain for some period of time.

If tankspot has become an advertising site of the ZAM network, then there would be some arrangement around the revenue sharing. For example, it could be that Patrick gets a salary, and ZAM takes all the ad revenue and pays all the hosting costs, but he gets to retain the domain name under some performance conditions or term. There are many varieties of commercial arrangements that could have been struck.

I’d be interested to know the details, and wonder if we’ll find out or not.

On the value of these assets

The assets of tankspot and wowhead are completely tied to the success of WoW. If the game falters, the sites will too. Their revenues are linked with the massive amounts of traffic that WoW generates, which is a function of the playerbase. It has enough scale to make ad revenues a viable income source. Most other sites in this space rely on a readership which spans beyond one game like mmorpg.com

Consider the declining value of myspace once facebook kicked its ass. News Corp bought myspace at a premium.

Sites which rely on WoW have a similar risk in their asset value. There is no floor to protect the assets. If WoW began to decline in popularity, these sites would need to find ways to extend their brand to other games in order to retain their pageviews (and revenues).

wowhead would have trouble simply extending itself as the database for other games because this is now a known space, it’s a market segment which is so well defined there is a business who just creates databases for games.

Allods Online has an item/quest database, from Playata. Playata gives games developers a system which they hook into their development studio that extends itself onto the internet as a community-facing database. You thus do not need a addon to sniff and gather data, like the wowhead client.

Compare to WoW, the first database was thottbot (which ZAM also acquired) and it was a player-developed site. Now, there is Playata who works with new games before they are launched, so a database site is ready on day one.

On video from tankspot, about content

One of the reasons tankspot is valuable is its videos, which are created by the community. By volunteers. If revenues are sufficient, they might get paid something. Content is king. Even social media relies on ‘content’ from its community. Twitter relied on the network effect and first-mover advantage, both of which helped amazon 10 years ago, and both of which remain crucial factors in the success of new internet ideas. Those factors still rely on content.

Creating video content is a big job. Tankspot say it will be even higher quality in the future. It takes hours.

I had an offer to write blog posts for dk.info when its current owner was looking for relevant and current front-page. I think the pay was $5 per post, but don’t remember exactly. It wasn’t much but was a nice gesture.

How much will the community video producers at tankspot get paid? Or will they remain volunteers, doing it for the greater good of WoW players? Would you do it for free?

Tankspot will rely on its community and its content of videos to retain its value for advertising, and I truly with them all the best, with no reservations, and also hope the transition is smooth.

Discuss

Chat about this here or in the forum thread.

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3 comments to Tankspot acquired by ZAM (wowhead)

  • iTZKooPA
    Twitter: itzkoopa

    While ProjectLore did fizzle out, it was a profitable site for awhile. The complications came more in the planning and scheduling associated with the videos, not its inability to draw advertisers and viewers.

    But you’re absolutely correct.  It’s very difficult to make money off blogging, especially if you’re just doing it on the side or in free time.  It’s doable if you are persistent, professional, and just absolutely bust your ass, but that’s not what people want/expect.  The untimely demise of ProjectLore has caused the blogging crew, and the Juggybox, to reform at LoreHound.com.  We’ve been going through the exact hardships that you elude to in that first paragraph.  It’s tougher for us going from making money blogging to having to start from scratch again.
    Back on topic, ProjectLore was actually part of the ZAM Network, in the fashion that its video content was allowed to be posted there.  But it was never owned by ZAM, or anything like that, just a licensing deal.  It seems that Tankspot has struck a similar deal.

  • PhantomBuddha

    Bill Hicks is still right about advertising and marketting ;)

  • Uncleblue

    Very nice write up. I started hitting youtube as my first source for strat vids a few months back and avoid the TS vids. There videos lack the depth a lot of other have.

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