Geek revival. (Connection).A Chilean online marketing site plugs along, although new investors are needed.
It's all been done online, to no avail: chat rooms, games, clubs, shopping. All the bells and whistles A slang English term for exceptional features in some product. In the computer field, it typically refers to functions in software that may be greatly appreciated by some users, even though they may not be necessary most of the time. meant to drive traffic and build an online community. The list of dead dot-coms that aimed to re-invent marketing online is long indeed.
But what if you did it all at once? And what if your advertisers were also your investors?
That would be Virtualia.com, the Chilean consumer site launched in April 2001 and funded by an all-star cast of Chilean investors, including Corp Banca's Alvaro Saieh, TV personality Mario "Don Francisco At least two noteworthy people go by the name of Don Francisco:
Within the first three months of operation, Virtualia had 50,000 registered users, complete with personal data. More than a year later, the site has 175,000 active members. It aims to create a virtual world where entertainment comes together with marketing to make a place worthwhile to its users--chatty, Internet-crazy Chilean teens--and to executives interested in plumbing their wallets.
The layout of Virtualia mixes content and ads. Users take part in daily polls, chat rooms and free-form interest clubs in cyberspace Coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel "Neuromancer," it is a futuristic computer network that people use by plugging their minds into it! The term now refers to the Internet or to the online or digital world in general. See Internet and virtual reality. Contrast with meatspace. , as well as win games and prizes--all in exchange for their consumer profiles. With this information, managers say, Virutalia skips the legwork leg·work
Work, such as collecting information or doing research in preparation for a project, that involves much walking or traveling about. of traditional marketing and uses the accessibility and efficiency of the Internet to bring companies and their products closer to their consumers, plugged-in kids.
In return for clicks, users earn fanimanis (a pun pun, use of words, usually humorous, based on (a) the several meanings of one word, (b) a similarity of meaning between words that are pronounced the same, or (c) the difference in meanings between two words pronounced the same and spelled somewhat similarly, e.g. on "funny money"), a virtual online currency that can be exchanged for real-world products and services from affiliated companies Affiliated Companies
A situation that occurs when one company owns a minority interest (less than 50%) in another company.
Also refers to companies that are related to each other in some way.
An affiliated company is sometimes referred to as a subsidiary. like video rental chain Blockbuster, LanChile, Pizza Hut and hardware and home supplies store Sodimac Homecenter. Users can manage their fanimanis through deposits or stocks or they can bankroll bank·roll
1. A roll of paper money.
2. Informal One's ready cash.
tr.v. bank·rolled, bank·roll·ing, bank·rolls Informal charitable causes.
"Super" banner ads A graphic image used on Web sites to advertise a product or service. Banner ads come in numerous sizes, but are often rectangles 460 pixels wide by 60 pixels high. Also 460 x 55 and 392 x 72 sizes are commonly used. , meanwhile, collect information on registered users each time they click on an ad, instantly sending feedback to advertising execs about their interest in new products and services. "[Virtualia] earns the confidence of young, skeptical consumers by giving something back in return: responsibility," says Virtualia general manager Alfonso Gomez. "It is more fun to spend fanimanis online than to spend real money at the local mall."
Influencers. Some go so far as to enlist surfers as salespeople. Cable company VTR (VideoTape Recorder) A videotape recording and playback machine. VTR may refer to consumer MiniDV and DV recorders or to professional machines such as Betacam, DVCPRO and DVCAM. , for example, offers fanimanis for getting parents and friends to sign up for telephone, cable or Internet service. Department store Falabella rewards cybernauts Cybernauts were a David Bowie cover band featuring Def Leppard members Joe Elliott and Phil Collen, former Spiders From Mars members Trevor Bolder and Mick "Woody" Woodmansey (the Spiders From Mars were once David Bowie's backing band), and a keyboardist, Dick Decent. for purchases. Buying a mountain bike at the department store, for example, brings a Virtualia user 800 fanimani units. Likewise, 400 of the units, marked as FM$, will bring a discount of about US$4 on another purchase.
"We are interested in youth in terms of their financial capacity, their influence as potential market researchers, while providing us with consumer profiles and a great capacity for recruiting other young people," says Gomez.
Ad agency McCann Erickson McCann Erickson is a global advertising agency network, with offices in over 130 countries and almost eight decades of multinational experience . McCann is a subsidiary of the Interpublic Group of Companies in Chile says Virtualia's super-banners are 20% more effective than traditional banners. Since companies spend about 3% of their marketing budgets on online advertising, the benefits are linked to that other 97% spent on TV and print ads, McCann reported in a market study.
Feedback is powerful. Sodimac, for example, tested a new logo for its Homecenter stores on the Virtualia site. Within 48 hours, 3,500 Virtualia users had rejected the logo. Sodimac changed the design.
Virtualia's model has great potential, as long as site managers keep viewers interested, says Scott Meadow, a retail analyst at Foote, Cone and Belding. Once novelty wears off, however, members tend to disappear, too. "Designing a long-term publicity campaign for the Internet takes the high costs out of traditional campaigns,". Meadows says. "As long as the program is centered on local brands and a local mentality and keeps viewers involved actively, the combination should prove successful."
Expansion could be tricky. Virtualia has home pages listed for several regional countries, but the community continues to operate solely in Chile. There is talk of repeating the process in Mexico, with local brands and staff, but the investment is still slated for the future.
Virtualia's earnings, meanwhile, once predicted to hit $1 million annually on the original $3 million investment, have fallen short of expectations. The company is looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. partners. "Currently we are in negotiations with an established media company, one with resources and know-how in a related field. Once the association is complete, then Virtualia will be able to offer new services such as become an ISP (1) See in-system programmable.
(2) (Internet Service Provider) An organization that provides access to the Internet. Connection to the user is provided via dial-up, ISDN, cable, DSL and T1/T3 lines. provider and expand to other countries," Gomez says.
Dot-coin dreams die hard. But even staying alive this long means the backers--the very markets whose banners dot the site--are in for a bit longer, at least.