I hit the launch party for the latest TorStar Digital venture, “Olive Canada Network”:http://www.olivecanadanetwork.com/ last week. Here’s the dish, first on the party and then on the company.
The party was held at swanky A-list club, “This is London”:http://toronto.com/bars_clubs/listing/000-124-544. There is nothing more uniquely urban than entering a hot club through a garbage bin-lined unmarked door down a dimly lit downtown back alley. The party was packed with maybe 700 people, mostly an attractive, under-35 crowd. There was an over-the-top 70’s cover band in full regalia, “Maxim girls”, hotdog cart, private limo’s, open bars and lots of branding for Olive and their featured properties.
Insiders say it was as much of a recruitment effort for new talent as a launch party for their target customers. Olive GM, Simon Jennings (formerly of “Yahoo! Canada”:http://www.yahoo.ca), cracked my favorite joke of the night when he exclaimed from the microphone to a loud and inattentive room, “For the four of you from media buying agencies, thanks for coming, for the all of your cousins and friends who tagged along, enjoy the drinks.” All in all a well-executed launch event with all the details covered.
So what about the idea itself? Olive describes itself as follows on their thin information website:
bq. Olive Canada Network offers exclusive access to the Canadian impressions on its premium-branded partner sites with over 8.5 million unique Canadian visitors. If you would like to advertise on brands such as CNET, Billboard.com, NHL.com, Maxim Online, The Walrus, Leasebusters, LiveDeal.ca, Baystreet.ca, Workopolis, and Toronto.com please contact us.
Essentially the idea is to form a high-performing Canadian sales organization to push the inventory of mostly US based sites and Torstar online properties for a share of the collected revenue. Out of the gate they are willing to do deals on a CPM, CPC and CPA basis (the latter two in partnership with another TorStar company). Simon has recruited a bunch of his team from his old Yahoo! connections and also seems to have attracted a young, aggressive group of new talent. Most of the Olive folks I spoke with were knowledgeable about their space and enthusiastic about their competitive positioning.
I’d say as long as the banner advertising market remains in high demand in Canada, Olive will do well for Torstar.