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One business that has shown early interest is the Minnesota-based power sports company Polaris, which has created brand pages for Polaris snowmobiles, off-road machines and motorcycles.
“I think it can be an interesting platform for Polaris and it can really take off,” said Steve Eastman, vice president of parts, garments and accessories for Polaris. “We think it’s more about loyalty; more word-of-mouth. That’s why this is a really logical place for us to tap into.”
For Polaris, Thrill On is an opportunity to create interaction between consumers and brands. “They’re capturing content and they want to share their experiences and we think that’s really cool,” Eastman said.
As Thrill On continues to quickly grow, challenges arise.
Chris Wexler, director of media strategy and interactive at Campbell Mithun’s Compass Point Media, agrees.
“Social networks like this work well when they ladder off behaviors in the real world,” Wexler said. “Their challenge right now is building a community, building on that interconnectedness.”
While it’s obviously important to continue pushing user growth, Wexler said, integrating advertising and creating revenue early is crucial for start-ups like Thrill On.
“It’s not 2008,” said Wexler, who is not connected with Thrill On. “They have to be thinking about advertising really early on. Figuring out a way that is native and additive rather than distracting is important.”
Video advertising is becoming the norm, Wexler said, and with Thrill On’s format relying heavily on this medium, it would be a logical point of ad integration for the site.
The Thrill On crew acknowledges the never-ending nature of improving the online experience.
“There are so many things that I want to do with the site from a functional standpoint,’’ Mitchell said. “The platform itself and the mobile experiences are a fraction of the way to where I want them.”
For example, the team is currently working on fine-tuning an app for mobile users, who are roughly one-third of their total users, Mitchell said.
“With this concept, it makes total sense,” Mitchell said. “The people we’re after are out and about.”
Justin Miller is a University of Minnesota intern working at the Star Tribune.