I am feeling very irritated this morning. Let me tell you why.
When I write this blog, I choose topics that interest me and engage me, whatever is topmost in my mind, and what I think my readers would be interested in. This is (mostly) a labour of love; I do this because I love social VR and virtual worlds, and I love writing about them. And because I now write about so many platforms, it is inevitable that some will get less coverage. I can’t treat everybody equally; it’s impossible.
But lately, I am getting feedback from certain metaverse-building companies that somehow feel that they have been slighted, if I do not mention them in my blog, even in more general blogposts. (And no, I am not naming names. You can guess who you are.) At which point, makes what I do less a labour of love, and more of a chore, an obligation—in short, a job.
Let me make this perfectly clear: your company has ZERO right to complain to me if I am writing about your social VR/ virtual world (and thereby promoting it) FOR FREE, WHEN and IF I feel like writing about your product. If you are so unhappy with how often I do (or don’t) mention your company on my blog, and you expect me to provide more coverage of your platform, then that becomes a job, for which I expect to be paid. My current rate is US$50 per sponsored blogpost. I do not have an exclusive sponsorship deal with Sinespace, and I would gladly welcome more sponsors.
And if you really want to see your brand name appear on my blog more often, then please consider purchasing advertising space. You’ll find that I have quite reasonable rates, which I will be increasing in the new year, as I now have approximately twice as many viewers (according to my WordPress blog statistics) as I did when I first posted those rates a year ago. So if you want the best advertising rates, I suggest that you lock them in now.
If you are not a sponsor of my blog, or an advertiser on my blog, then I suggest you think carefully before you criticize me for what you see as a lack of coverage of your platform on my blog. If you want me to write about your product regularly (instead of when I feel like it), then you should consider paying me for my work.
My producer Andrew William and I are wrapping up our first season of the Metaverse Newscast show. It’s been great fun to do, but it’s also been a lot of hard work for us, particularly for Andrew, who records the shows and edits the footage to make the final episodes you watch on YouTube.
As we move forward to Season 2, we are actively looking for one or more financial sponsors who would be willing to assist us with this endeavour, in exchange for promotion of their products and/or services on the show. A good fit would be a company working in virtual reality or virtual worlds, but we’re pretty much wide open to any good suggestions. If you’re interested, let’s talk. You can contact me on my contact page on this blog.
If we do not find a sponsor, the Metaverse Newscast will continue, but we will need to scale back from our original goal of one show per month, and just do a show every now and then, as we are able. Both Andrew and I have full-time jobs right now, which sometimes makes it difficult for us to carve out time for this work (which is done in the evenings or on weekends).
If you are a reader of this blog and you know of somebody who might be interested in sponsoring the Metaverse Newscast, please contact me and I will follow up with that person or company, thanks! Any leads would be appreciated.
And—as always—thank you for your continued support of this blog! It means the world to me.
Recently, I have become fascinated by a particular kind of celebrity: the YouTube influencer. Yesterday, I watched a video by the successful YouTuber and real estate agent Graham Stephan, who is currently pulling in US$100,000 per month from his YouTube channel alone:
These are people who have been able to attract significant numbers of subscribers to their YouTube video content, and earn hundreds of thousands—even millions—of dollars a year with advertising and endorsement deals. For example, the 28-year-old Swedish YouTuber Felix Kjellberg (a.k.a PewDiePie) earned US$15.5 million last year, according to Forbes.
But obviously, PewDiePie and his fellow livestreamers on Twitch and YouTube were a powerful, free promotional tool for VRChat. (The Ugandan Knuckles meme helped a lot, too, by becoming a self-perpetuating cycle that helped popularize VRChat.) While the platform peaked at 28,500 simultaneous users, it has since settled down to around 6,000 concurrent users in recent months, which still makes it the most popular social VR platform so far.
Monstercat: Call of the Wild Experience is a VR space where the music label will host artist meet and greets, giveaways, and more. Altberg didn’t give me exact numbers but over a thousand people watched the show in VR via Sansar.
“Tens of thousands of people watched the concert across Twitch, Mixer, and Huya, and over a thousand people around the world attended the event in Sansar – across 6 continents, 65 countries, and 675 cities. Fans feel more connected and immersed in the music they love, while artists, in turn, effectively reach more people and places in a single day than they’d reach on a real-life tour. “
Now, while I am slightly suspicious at that “675 cities” figure (I always knew you could determine country by IP address, but I wasn’t aware you could pinpoint IP addresses down to the city level), the fact remains that 1,000 users in one day is seen as a major success for Sansar. But compare this with the estimated 600,000 regular users for Second Life. And compare this with the estimated 7,500 users of the adult virtual world 3DX Chat, which, as one commenter noted (here and here):
… 3DXChat. It started as just a sex sim. Then they added building. Then users started building and visiting each others places, instead of paying for sex like they were supposed to.
It’s more successful than High Fidelity, Sansar, and Sinespace put together. About 7,500 paying users.
So, although 1,000 users in one day for one event in Sansar is a significant achievement, it still doesn’t take the platform to the next level, where Linden Lab can really start making money off it.
Which leads to my question: will Linden Lab and other social VR companies eventually have to pay YouTubers and other influencers to promote their platforms to a wider audience and attract more attention? The experience of VRChat was an instructive lesson on the advertising power of influencers like PewDiePie.
Linden Lab and other social VR companies may decide that slower, organic growth is best. However, the pressure to attract a lot of users more quickly using high-profile influencers must be sorely tempting. Will Linden Lab, High Fidelity, Sinespace, and other social VR platforms eventually bite the bullet and sign deals with popular influencers? Only time will tell.
UPDATE Aug. 16th: I have been told that it is, indeed, possible to identify cities by IP address, which I did not know before!
Well, I got back another automated email from Google about my Google AdSense violations. It looks like I got absolutely nowhere in requesting a review, which is what I was expecting:
In the last 24 hours:
4 page-level review requests were received. You’ll be notified when the reviews are completed. 4 pages were reviewed at your request and found to be non-compliant with our policies at the time of the review. Ad serving continues to be restricted or disabled on those pages.
What I find really annoying is that I cannot access the list of violations using my desktop computer (it gives me an error message), so I have to use either my iPad or my iPhone to check the exact wording of the policy violations to see what’s going on. Pain in the ass!
I also found it amusing that, the past three times I checked the Utherverse blogpost, that Google AdSense did not disable ads on that post. Instead, it simply served advertising for the cheating-on-your-spouse website Ashley Madison! So it would appear that, rather than disable ads outright, AdSense will try to match adult content with adult ads. Interesting!
So, for the most serious offender, the Utherverse blogpost, it looks as though I am going to have to remove a couple of images and the link to Utherverse, then resubmit it to see if it passes muster. Frankly, this automated, terse warning system, with its lack of specifics, is irritating. You don’t get an opportunity to talk with a real person to find out what’s wrong (if there’s a person involved in this system at all). It makes you have to guess at what’s wrong, and you have to keep submitting it for review until it is approved. Again, pain in the ass.
As for the other three blogposts, well, I guess I am going to have to put black boxes over naked avatar boobs and asses to get them cleared. So ridiculous!
Were it not for the fact that my Google AdSense ads are bringing in more money than my WordPress WordAds, I would seriously consider just cancelling my AdSense account altogether. But, for now, I’ll make the changes and resubmit all four blogposts for review—AGAIN.
And I will now be checking my email regularly for any future reports of blogposts that have run afoul of the fickle Google AdSense policies.