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Monday, May 28, 2007


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Laetizia Coronet

Maybe there is a second element to this all. Maybe we are so tired of the insane bombardment of advertisement in daily life that we go to SL to escape from that kind of corporate... let me put it nicely, baloney.

They will need to create a very good reason for avatars to voluntarily subject themselves to advertisements. In real life I don't hang around in computer shops or supermarkets just for the heck of it - so don't expect me to hang at IBM or Coca-Cola in SL. I don't need to be there.
So far it is safe to say: You can beat the Real Thing.

Alexander Burgess

I feel the same, Laetizia. And it *is* "so far;" I'd bet there are plenty of twisted creative minds at the corporations working very hard to find a way to force us to pay attention to their advertising--and using their superior investment capabilities to make it happen. A company sufficiently large to buy out the game could easily "kill" it. The question then is, does that happen at a point where open-source metaverses are possible without corporate sponsorship? Are we forever beholden to a benign dictatorship for existence?

Steve C.

I think you've made a bad analogy here. 1.6% of a population visiting a corporate site is pretty significant. If 1.6% of the internet population visited Fortune 100 corporate websites, do you know how many CMOs would be dancing in the aisles?

Not all of these efforts were designed solely to drive onsite traffic - Coke's certainly wasn't, as they didn't even buy permanent land (disclaimer: I was part of the team who helped create this, so I can tell you, traffic figures were never a success metric, and frankly, we're not even reporting them. I didn't even know what they were until Tateru printed them).

Why do SL residents continue to see existing corporate efforts as some kind of end game at which they've failed? When actually they are low cost experiments, exploring the good and bad of virtual communities - which will become increasingly important - before they grow pervasive and doing it wrong could have huge impact.

No-one is expecting anyone to hang with American Apparel if they don't want to. But for less than the cost of an RL instore sweepstake, they've created a spot where fans CAN go. And they can get feedback. And interact with a growing community. And learn. And get experience. That seems like a pretty smart investment to me. IMO the only mistake Starwood made with the Aloft was to listen to all the nonsense about how few visitors they were getting and box the beautiful build they and ESC created, preventing future residents from seeing it at all.

For a community that has long term vision about the future, judging a corporate experiment in terms of short term traffic is incredibly near sighted.

And housewives are able to compete with corporations in a number of places, not just SL, as a glance at YouTube will show you. But it's not a competition. It's just an expansion of choice, and the smartest companies are embracing it, not fighting it.


I agree with Steve that the raw numbers of visitors is not really the most important metric for RW corporations. What they want is people to engage with their brand in some meaningful way that gains them a larger piece of the mindshare. To create positive associations with their products and brands.

The challenge is how to measure engagement and positive associations rather than just X number of visitors over Y period.

Tateru Nino

Yet I am contacted by some corporates on this list (and some not on it, who are very keen to be included) - who are very interested in these numbers.

Yes, it's about engagement, trust, interest, positive associations - but a lot of people are looking hard at their numbers as well. Mostly, apparently, as a challenge - to strive, to dare, to engage.

Gary Hayes

Also these figures are nonsense. I have just been inworld to look at the traffic figures of the busiest brands and here they are: nothing like Tateru's...I did a quick compile image and here it is on flickr...


The reason BigPond and ABC (two of the busiest brands) are not included in Tateru's figures is 1 - They are not US and 2 - They are engaging with the community producing higher dwell figures (which is still an important metric - as it means people are hanging out on brand land) and puts to shame the corporates who build concrete, clone monstrocities that are just not friendly spaces to socialise with each other and the brand...

I expect some serious flaming now!


Troy McLuhan

For places where traffic is an important metric, I think we should be getting better numbers than those based on sims being sampled three times per day, especially if the traffic numbers are being used to drive decision-making. It's possible to have low-lag visitor counter systems that give you a much more accurate estimated count of unique visitors - you just need the sim owners to agree to sharing that data. The projects with lots of traffic will happily share it, and the guys with low traffic will either not report it (thereby arousing suspicion) or not measure it saying that they don't really care about traffic.

Gary Hayes

Yes Troy - I have started using Second Labs analytics to see the usefulness of the results they give (and I am not connected with the company) http://www.second-labs.com/ - these provide using placed low lag sensors, 10m and 100m range uniques, new vs returnings, duration spent and more. I/we am also looking at dynamic hotspot to web interface tracking and a way for virally distributed branded objects to report when they are rezzed - amongst a few others. Really to work out engagement as fully and automated as possible. Doing a 3 times a day sample of green dots on a map (albeit I presume using LibSL) just doesnt cut it for me - at least the LL traffic figures allow you to check for yourself BUT...

I would hope that LL start to consider incorporating this or something very similar into the backend. It will stop the low traffic brands hyping their figures and reward those actually providing value compelling inworld engagement. A world that acknowledges what works for all to see and share is one that will survive - as we saw with the internet circa 1998 allowing companies to inflate their figures will result in SL turning into a similar bubble and having the same fate.

Tateru Nino

Sorry, Gary, but you've made an incorrect inference.

They were not excluded for either their traffic, or because they are US-centric. We are still expanding our list.

ABC and Big Pond are in next week's roundup. We've been tracking data on them for two weeks now.

Gary Hayes

Thanks Tateru,

I look forward to seeing how different you figures look from the open, transparent LL traffic figures given ABC and the Pond are the most traffic'd dwell based brands.

We will continue to publish figures that everyone who sees them can check for themselves and we will also be publishing exactly which sites (parcels and/or full sims) are added into the measurement which yours obviously do not.

For your numbers to be taken seriously you need to say exactly which sites you are using, because to be honest you could favour any brand of your choice simply by taking the busiest of theirs and the least busy of a competitor. I didn't realise that Hamlet had actually sponsored/commissioned you to do these numbers either?


Gary Hayes

from a previous comment re: tateru being in Oz even more reason to have non-US brands in the mix!

For those who want to see a full and definitive list of brands that are not covered by these selective measurements then head over to Linda Zimmers wiki at http://slbusinesscommunicators.pbwiki.com/#BrandswithaSecondLifePresence

Also for those who want to check how brands are doing based on 'open' LL traffic/dwell then you can see them here



Abigail Thomas

hi Tateru, that's great to hear that you'll be including the ABC and Bigpond in your figures from next week - very intrigued to see how they rank based on your metrics. For us at the ABC, traffic is one important measure of whether we're on the right track - alongside comments from visitors, attendance at key events, enthusiasm for entering competitions, feedback from the industry and even internal interest from program makers within the ABC. As with many corporates, this is an R&D project for us and we're keen to learn as much as we can so that we understand how to reach people and share our content in these emerging virtual environments. Thanks, Abi Goldflake (SL)

VeeJay Burns

If you look at IBM and Virtual Holland we're talking about multiple sims, does that give them an advantage?

Tateru Nino

We count all the public IBM sims and all the Virtual Holland sims. It means they can have a greater variety of facilities and hold more people - but that does not necessarily mean that they do.

Virtual Holland is comparable in size to the IBM space, but is considerably underutilized by comparison. Anyone care to speculate why? IBM's brand power?

Laetizia Coronet

I visited Virtual Holland and I am still wondering what the goal of the place is. There seems to be little functionality. The center part where my country is shaped in grassland has a load of geographically misplaced info signs that don't actually do anything - no teleports, no notecards. It even took me a while to find out which corporation was behind it.

My idea is that it is still in it's infancy.

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