There is what I find an odd dichotomy in how people think a virtual world should look, be, and what people actually want. The infamous Second Life ad that some saw as negative and detrimental to the popularity of Second Life probably is suggestive of the problem.
I know that ads like these are tracked. Google Analytics provides an extensive set of tracking tools. One can track the person from their click on the ad through the web site it sends them to. I can see what they click on while in the web site and if my site is hooked into Google Analytics I can track how many clickers actually signed up. Gotta love those tracking cookies…
The stats tell me which ads are most effective for pulling in signups. I push the most effective ads to run more often. I think it reasonable to think most advertisers do the same.
Today in Hypergrid Business they have an article titled: Adult Metaverse community again fastest-growing. The title explains my point for mentioning it.
Looking at Flickr groups it is clear which groups generate the most interest and activity. Many of the adult themed groups have several times the activity and interest of the less sexually focused groups.
Every place we turn it is obvious humans are obsessed with sex. Yet, there is a point where sexuality in ads and promotions becomes unacceptable. There is a point where in any place it is too much, even our bedrooms. Ask any woman that has experimented with her lover using Viagra. How many of us want to make love for hours on end, or can? It sounds passionate and hot, but the practical realities of life can quickly intrude.
The challenge is finding where that point is and realizing it is different for everyone. Plus, that tolerance point constantly changes. I suspect that is part of the problem we have figuring out what the opposite sex wants.
Imagine you are Ebbe or on the board of directors of Linden Lab and your asked about whether to allow adult themes and activities in the Next Generation Platform (NGP)? What call would you make?
You know that if there is one tiny titillating bit of sex in NGP the media will blow it all out of proportion. It’s like a woman’s reputation in most of the world. In Arab and Moslem countries a woman walking in public with her hair down brands her promiscuous and can ruin her and her father’s, brother’s, or husband’s reputation. We think North America and Europe have come out of the dark ages (a depreciated term in historical studies) and each person is valued on their whole personal merit, but the media doesn’t seem to have kept up. Nor do they seem to care as long as they can make money. Consider what you face.
As a board member, share holder, or CEO you have a responsibility to make a product the market wants so it will sell. It is obvious sex sells, to the point it is a cliché. You look at the grid and contents in Second Life. Zindra, the adult content, has been growing since it was built. Look at the World map. Where do we find the most people?
The question is what do you do with NGP? And if you decide to allow adult themes like we have in SL, do you ever talk about it or try to keep it behind closed doors?
Each of us will make our own call. For me, the interesting thing about deciding is in how long it takes each person to decide. Not what they decide. The only person’s decision that really matters is Ebbe’s and the board of directors.