Advertising Beta to end

In December 2010 Nelson Linden announced the Second Life Advertising Beta, a programme by which merchants could, for a fee or two, enjoy wider advertising exposure through various Second Life “properties” (or “websites” as we call them elsewhere) such as the SL Marketplace, the SL Land Auction site, and (I assume, as it came along later) within the advertising spaces of Web Profiles.

Essentially, the programme allowed merchants to target niche markets, thus allowing them to have their products advertised directly to those with a specific interest in that market. So, for example, a merchant selling animals could set-up their ads to appear on SL Marketplace pages displayed to those people searching for animals. Prices were based on a number of impressions per month for the add, the size of the ad itself and a minimum purchase amount of some $10.00 USD.

While payments could initially only be made in USD (i.e. via credit / debit card), the basic idea seemed sound enough, and it seems that a number of merchants did sign-up to the programme.

But not enough, it seems, as the programme has now been cancelled, and will formally close on May 31st.

There has been no official announcement of the programme ending; all that has happened is that merchants who did sign-up received the following e-mail yesterday:

“Hello,

“Thank you for participating in the Second Life Advertising Beta program. Based on our evaluation of the SL Advertising Beta during the last six months, we have decided to discontinue the program on May 31, 2011. Access to advertise.secondlife.com for performance information and data downloads will remain open until June 7, 2011. For those that have active campaigns, we will ensure that all of the impressions that you’ve already paid for are delivered prior to closing the program.

“Thanks to all of the Merchants who have helped us test this display advertising beta and for all of your helpful feedback. Your participation and insights will help us drive our ongoing efforts to help you promote your products and services to Second Life shoppers. We look forward to partnering with you on future promotional endeavors.

“If you have any questions regarding this announcement, please email sladsbeta@lindenlab.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

“Signed,

“The Second Life Advertising Team”

In addition, if you try to reach the advertising site, you’ll simply get this message.

Precisely why the programme is closing remains unclear. Whether it proved difficult to maintain or whether too few merchants signed-up to make it viable long-term as a revenue generator for LL is simply anyone’s guess. It might even conceivably be because LL are planning to replace it with something more refined – although one would have thought those that had made the effort to participate would be given some indication that this was the case, if so.

As it stands the cancellation of the programme, coupled with what appears to be an attempt to quietly sweep it under the carpet does suggest the performance of the programme was less than stellar. If this is the case, then there is a question as to why it didn’t – and forgive the unintentional pun – make the desired impression.

Certainly those merchants that did participate had a favourable view of the programme and tended to find it did help boost sales. But if we’re honest, it wasn’t exactly the most well-supported initiative where LL is concerned: after the initial launch announcement from Nelson, and the video tutorial from Torley, the programme was never given another mention. During the six months it was operating, LL didn’t seek to promote it, report on it or give any further encouragement for merchants to sign-up.

Which is a shame, as with more participation and the promised means of paying via Linden Dollars, the scheme could have become very popular.