Not too long ago, I discussed the matter of tier and revenue. The main thrust of the piece was an attempt to point out why tier cuts, rather than being the magic bullet which will solve all of SL’s perceived woes, are actually likely to inflict a mortal wound.
As a part of that piece, I scratched the surface of other options open to LL for revenue generation – including the use of advertising. Now, to be fair, the idea wasn’t mine – it is something my dearest Lord of Dee, Ciaran Laval suggested in his blog (which, if not on your reading list, should be).
Indeed, outside of SL, the Lab have already dipped a toe into the use of web advertising as a potential source of revenue in launching dio – which is specifically geared towards revenue-through-ads.
Well, now it seems as though LL are taking Ciaran’s advice on board: advertising using Google AdSense / AdChoice is starting to filter into the SL webpages.
Again, Ciaran reported on this ahead of me, and a thread is up on the forums concerning the move – and the negativity is strong, sadly. The ads themselves comprise a banner at the top of some pages, together with a vertical ad space down the right side of a page. As such, they are not overly obtrusive, but they are noticeable.
I could have sworn I actually had an ad appear on my dashboard earlier, but I was scootling around so much, I’m not sure – and repeated clicks on my browser’s BACK button failed to turn up anything.
As mentioned above, the reactions on the forum thread haven’t been overly positive to this move – but it is hard to fault it. Advertising is a fact of life on the web, and if LL can use it to generate a modest additional flow of revenue to their coffers, then all power to them – it’s not as if we can’t avoid the ads if we so wish; there are plenty of browser plug-ins available for those wo don’t wish to see ads popping-up hither and thither.
Currently, the ads have yet to hit the SL Marketplace, which would appear to be an ideal target for advertising, given the volume of traffic it receives, providing the page layout can be tweaked sufficiently enough so that real world ads aren’t getting confused for SL product ads. As I mentioned back in January, when discussing tier, the Marketplace would potentially be the ideal spot for LL to try-out Ciaran’s idea for strategic partnerships with other companies.
It has been suggested that perhaps the system could be extended to provide in-world businesses the opportunity to use the advertising space as well. I’m actually not convinced this would actually work, for a number of reasons. Which is not to say it shouldn’t be tried, is the software would allow for it in a meaningful way (i.e. links to in-world stores and / or SLMP listings. Certainly, it wouldn’t be the first time LL had offered direct advertising opportunities to users, as those of us who remember the MOTD promotional “opportunity” from 2010. However, were LL able to walk a similar path again, I would hope they’d avoid trying to charge people between $1,500 and $4,500 USD, as they did with that offer …
Overall, there is no real harm in LL seeking to generate money in this way – and it really shouldn’t be taken to mean the company is in “dire straits” financially. It may not generate a significantly large amount of revenue when compared to land, but that doesn’t invalidate the move as a means of removing at least a further small portion of reliance on tier as the company’s sole means of revenue generation.