Last week we reported that Weblin
was prepping to launch virtual goods and new advertising to monetize
its layered virtual world. Through a browser plugin or lightweight,
non-downloadable version, weblin lets users take customized avatars
with them across every website they view. In February those users will
also be taking virtual goods with them. The first goods
will include graphical effects, like fireworks or floods, that users
can display for all users on a page. They'll also soon be able to leave
items behind and craft them on their own.
"We are also working on dropable items. Users will install virtual
items persistently on Web pages," Co-Founder Christine Stumpf explained via email. "These items will
be visible to all other visitors. In Q2 users will be able to equip
their virtual living room, e.g., their Web page, with objects. There
are static objects like chair, couch, table, and also interactive
objects. Crafting and resource farming is also in the works. Work flows
and crafting trees will give users another reason to be active in
weblin and to communicate with friends."
Users can acquire goods through multiple ways: activity points for
surfing, a virtual currency purchasable through cash, and, soon, crafting
their own through resources picked up throughout the Web.
If that sounds like more of an MMORPG than a traditional virtual world, well, weblin is hardly traditional. However, unlike PMOG,
another layered world, Stumpf says that the goal isn't to create a
roleplaying atmosphere. Instead, the crafting is a way to promote
interaction and activity.
"Users will gain resources from web
pages anywhere on the Web. Some resources have to be discovered. There
will be items for resource discovery like a prospector kit, with its
own upgrades and crafting tree. Other resources will result from
visitor activity. Put an activity collection tool on your page and you
earn stuff over time. Draw visitors to the page, entertain them, chat,
and you earn more," explained Stumpf. "There is no role play, no
character development. We focus on socializing. We introduce these
features to push user interaction. Users can do the work flows on their
own, but it is more efficient to specialize and trade. Trading means
communication, crafting and specialization stimulates interaction. It's
all about cooperation and collective activity."
The new system of
virtual goods can also translate nicely to advertising partnerships.
Weblin has previously tested what it calls "premium advertising," or
integrated, immersive advertising, for Adidas and "Horton Hears a Who."
The campaigns called for special work like building branded avatars or
bots that interacted with users when they came across the page.
goods are already rising in popularity as a way to maintain consumer
relationships, and this combines the trend with more immersion and
interaction. With digital goods or the resources needed to craft them
the Web, mission-based campaigns seem like a solid tie in. Stumpf says
the campaigns have required extra work, but have paid off with "supreme
are drawn into the brand by their activity," said Stumpf. "We had a
very successful premium campaign where a treasure chest with loot
appeared regularly on a partner website. People flocked to the page to
get rare items."
The premium campaigns will continue, but as an
alternative, weblin is now also concentrating on traditional ad formats like
The company expects a roughly even split between virtual goods and ad revenue over 2009.
believe that ads will dominate in the beginning. But as soon as a bunch
of digital goods are available, they will overtake ads. We expect both
channels to be strong," said Stumpf. "Virtual goods worked well in
early trials. They also drive other avatar systems. But weblin also has
the chance to direct Web traffic to partner sites or their brands while
giving users items they want. So, we also believe in ads."
This story was excerpted from a longer post by Joey Seiler at our sister site Virtual Worlds News.
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