YSA Measurement – by David Varela

Posted by admin on July 23, 2010 in Measurement |

In response to a call for lessons learned with measurement, David Varela gave an informative comment. So I’m putting it here as a post (with permission):

So – a couple of lessons learned in measurement.

I’m running an ARG at the moment and I’d love to talk about it, but maybe that’s not the smartest idea. Instead, I’ll talk about an ARG I ran last year called Xi, and which I summed up at last year’s Power to the Pixel event (Christy was chairing). The slides from my presentation are here, or you can watch me mumble through it on video here:

One of the advantages of this ARG was that it was largely based in Sony’s virtual world, PlayStation Home. Owning a PS3 and visiting Home was a prerequisite of playing, so we could *really* track players and measure our success/failure. Well, I say ‘we’… Sony actually has full control over those stats and is very careful about what they pass on, even to first-party developers. But still, we could get some very meaningful figures.

Home is a growing community. When our game began in March 2009, there were 5 million users worldwide; by the end in June, there were 7 million. Last I heard, it was over 12 million.

Sony never set us targets, but they wanted us to increase the amount of time people spent in Home and, more particularly, the number of repeat visits. (In those early days of Home, people tended to turn up once, look around, and not come back.) The Sony people were very happy with us at the end of the game, so I guess we did well.

The numbers: our core space in Home got 4.5 million visits from around 620,000 players in 3 months. There were another 11 spaces that came and went during the course of the game. There were other numbers too: the Xi messageboards had 18 million views and tens of thousands of messages. There were hundreds of Xi-related videos on YouTube and a dozen or more wikis and fan sites. Anecdotally, some players said they’d gone from visiting Home maybe once a month to spending 40+ hours a week in there.

So a few lessons in learned:

1. Advertisers love these figures. But the thing is, the anecdotal ones carry more weight than you’d think – they become the headline that the ad man leads with when selling the concept. They maybe not have the rigour of online tracking, but they have emotional power. Like a good newspaper quote, they can really help demonstrate success.

2. Measurement never ends. Xi ended a year ago today (!) but the Xi Alumni Hub – a kind of memorial to Xi based in Home – has had another million visits since the game ended. It may be unusual for an ARG to have a long tail, but it shouldn’t be ignored. The legacy of your game could have a really measurable impact beyond the intangible word-of-mouth generated by happy memories. And coming out of that…

3. Another thing we suck at is leaving something behind after our ephemeral, magical experiences have run their course. If you’re trying to convince someone to fund an ARG, think of it like an Olympic bid: you need to think about the legacy you’ll leave once the main event is over, and this can be a major selling point of your proposal. That mini-game in Week 1 or those in-game videos could be getting hits long after the PMs have walked away.

I learned plenty of other lessons during Xi, but I’ll save those for another day.

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