Monday, September 24, 2007

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Tateru Nino's Mixed Reality Headcount: Top 10 Corporate Sites in Second Life

How well did RL corporate sites engage SL's community?  Tateru counts heads...

Site (* = Popular native reality sites for comparison)

Est avg hourly visits

Est avg hourly visits (peak hrs)

Estimated total weekly visits

* Phat Cat's Jazzy Blue Lounge 141 153 23,772 (stable)
* Lost Gardens of Apollo 81 100 13,692 (down 5.00%)
* City of Lost Angels 76 73 12,828 (stable)
The Pond 70 34 11,808 (down 3.62%)
IBM 43 45 7,368 (down 2.38%)
The L Word 29 30 4,932 (stable)
Greenies Home 25 38 4,260 (down 4.57%)
Pontiac 23 20 3,912 (down 31.80%)
The Weather Channel 19 21 3,348 (up 7.31%)
Nissan 15 9.14 2,604 (down 7.26%)
Playboy 13 14 2,340 (down 5.34%)
Virtual Holland 12 10 2,148 (down 11.39%)
ABC Island 9.71 13 1,632 (up 37.37

Aussie TV clobbers Microsoft, Pontiac plummets; Ailing Adidas goes AWOL; AOL: A.O.K. after all?

America Online's much neglected site AOL Pointe has had some unexpected gains in the last three weeks, gaining a further 18%, bringing it up to 1,008 visits last week-- but not enough to make my Top 10.  AOL trailed just behind Microsoft, but well ahead of the next nearest competitor, Cisco Systems. Cisco only totaled 684 visits (and that's with a 38% gain.)  Surprisingly, after plummeting last week, Australian Broadcasting Corporation's ABC Island shouldered back into the top ten, with a startling 37% gain, shouldering Redmond behemoth Microsoft (1,284) back off the top ten. A lot of other slips in traffic this week, with Pontiac's sharp fall (after last week's equally sudden rise) causing Rezzable Inc's Greenies Home to rise from fifth to fourth.

After the break, I check in with the recently discontinued Adidas, and a slew of other top corporations (Dell, NBA, Comcast, etc.) that have been performing poorly.

Adidas
The almost austere site of Adidas has so far failed to garner any serious interest. Will the next iteration be more engaging?

German apparel company Adidas (parent company of British brand, Reebok) has had less than a stellar time in Second Life, regularly fighting its Reebok subsidiary for last place on our charts. Well, as of Wednesday evening, Adidas vanished from the Second Life map. Not that anyone apparently visited prior to that point, with the island showing essentially zero visits.

I contacted Rivers Run Red (the metaverse developer serving both apparel groups), and CEO Fizik Baskerville (aka Justin Bovington) told us that the island was down for an update, preparatory to launching a new campaign.

Can Rivers Run Red and Adidas agree and deliver on a genuine engagement plan? Adidas certainly hasn't generated a lot of interest so far. Does Adidas actually care about residents and visitors enough to try interact with them and engage them? Their past efforts suggest that they aren't. We'll be watching, certainly.

There's still little sign that the low end sites like Cisco, Ratepoint, Dell (576), Manpower (570), STA Travel (564), and Coldwell Banker (516) will see the north side of 1,000 weekly visits without putting in some real effort and adaptation. Lower down, we have sites like NBA (384), Comcast (312), and Reebok  (216) which seems like it would take some sort of marketing miracle to turn around.

Next-gen technology company Useful Technology with a mere 180 visits is trying to build itself up with events and classes, but lacks the core elements for any lasting community to form. It's hard to say whether this company will place more emphasis on the community or not. They have tripled their size inworld, but visits continue to fall. Not much sign of a bright future there, at present.

Visit my blog tomorrow for the complete list of ranked sites (mixed and native.)

Tateru Nino is a Second Life consultant and widely-read blogger who counts heads every week for New World Notes.  Contact her for more info on her mixed reality reports.

Methodology

Mixed reality sites in this headcount are selected for their prominence, either from publicity or real world name recognition. Sites with consistent low traffic (500 or less weekly) may be dropped in future Headcounts in favor of other sites. We do not count sites with camping chairs, or visitors in the orientation sims, as there seems to be little evidence to suggest that they will become visitors to the parent site - and if they do, we catch them when we headcount the site anyway.

We collect data four times per day for each site at 2am, 8am, 2pm and 8pm (times in SLT/US Pacific) plus/minus 1 hour. For each sample we count the number of people at the site at the time. We average those samples across the week, and then assume that average to hold constant, with each visitor spending a half hour on-site. This methodology does not necessarily include one-time events that generate high traffic missed by our sampling, which we'll make note of whenever possible. Headcounts do not factor in returning visitors, so assume that the total number of unique Residents are likely to be significantly less than the estimated total visits.

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Bluesapphire

I disagree about adidas, didn't they launch in October 2006?! Surely, its time for an update, rather than just offer glib conjecture. On the PR side, my area of speciaility, they've led on building brand equity. In fact, they are cited more than most brands in Second Life as 'having a presence'.

Perhaps we should be looking at the year, rather than just the end months. Doesn't this match most campaigns, a tail off towards the end.

I would say a remarkable achievement, especially considering the amount of time they've been inworld.

Peter David

These metrics are bogus, and don't reflect the real marketing. You're working in isolation, no access to the communication brief and using a observation model. Have you ever thought to reflect these figures to a real world perspective. Run these figures against amount of traffic in google, also take into consideration the timings of communication.

You need to reflect the basis of the presence:

1) Brand building, or link to a specific launch of activity that drives traffic
2) Specifically designed to attract a community (the pond etc.)
3) Designed to launch and distribute product into the wider community.

Peter David

http://www.kzero.co.uk/blog/?p=454

The above is also another indicator of how varied the measurements are in Second Life. If you note, adidas is still the most recgonized brand in Second Life. Does this reflect traffic, no of course not? Just like real life, brands are an idea not just place. Therefore, activity is based on recognition and not just visits.

I also spoke to the people at Rivers Run Red, they've sold over 37,000 pairs of the sports shoes. Doesn't this reflect success also?

I really feel this regular column is pure conjecture of the author, it also cheapens the work of the most excellent James Au Wagner.

Tateru Nino

I certainly think Adidas is past due for an update, and I'm glad to see that they're getting one.

And yes, this is based on observation - it has to be. After all, many of the marketers with SL sites that I've spoken to (though not all - see Coca Cola for an example!) say they're focused on visits. That is, engagement as evinced by growth of visits and return visits.

We observe and estimate visits and talk to visitors and to the marketers behind those sites at times, also.

This is based on that work, absolutely. I can't claim that it purports to be other than what it is.

If you have few or no visitors, and your brand-recognition is unaffected by the presence or absence of a site within SL - then it would seem your marketing dollar isn't being well-spent.

It appears to me that some of these sites don't appear to derive *any* additional brand recognition from their Second Life site. Some, I know, (like STA Travel) are managing to provide community engagement in ways that this metric doesn't reflect - but this metric isn't designed to do that.

I think it does what it does very well, and some of the sites with independent traffic analytics show results very close to the ones we produce - though I think the default assumptions of visit-length could stand some fine-tuning.

37,000 shoe sales. I've probably sold as much product in about the same amount of time and my brand is almost unknown. It's not even common knowledge that I have a brand or an outlet - actually even the purchasers themselves may experience little or no recognition of the brand.

So, while it *could* be a measure of success, but I wouldn't *necessarily* consider it to be one. Those sales levels don't constitute success for *me* anyway. They could well be for someone else.

Peter David

I think thats the issue here Tateru, its all about you and your perception. Not a real measurement, more IMHO and what you think it means. Sad really, as you're missing a great opportunity.

Shame you didn't comment on the link I sent ?

Tateru Nino

Oh, sorry. Missed seeing it. I'll take a look.

As for perception, I could leave the commentary off and just publish the chart - but that's not what I'm being paid for.

What do you recommend?

Hamlet Au

Peter, I helped Tateru develop this methodology, and stand by what she's doing. We're not claiming this is the *only* metric to judge engagement; but to my knowledge, it's the most reliable way to measure engagement in terms of total visits to company sites. Most other metrics aren't independently verifiable by a third party. And the fact remains that companies are paying Linden Lab a lot of money to maintain their sites on the grid, and are competing for attention from grassroots sites.

The Kzero post attributes Adidas' brand awareness to "a first step into SL and [that it's] frequently referenced in the media". That sounds right. So it's gained that awareness not specifically because of anything it's done in Second Life, but because the extensive media coverage it received for being the first RL shoe company in SL. Nothing wrong with that, but now with a 100+ companies, the days of generating such levels of awareness are long over. (What it actually means in ROI is another question altogether.) Ultimately, in any case, New World Notes' main focus will always be on the community, and how they interact on the experiential level in-world. So if a real world brand doesn't engage the community on that basis, it's really not something that warrants NWN's attention.

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