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Discussion in 'Guides' started by cpvr, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. Neopets is one of the largest virtual pet sites on the internet. They've been running the industry for as long as I can remember. They have a ton of features and content that keep their users returning. So, if you're looking to advertise to their members via different means, we're here to help you. Remember, since you're targeting Neopets users, make sure your advertisement speaks volumes and makes their users want to join your game.
    origins virtual pet site origins kickstarter
    You can advertise directly to Neopets' users via Google Adwords and Facebook ads. With Google adwords, your advertisement will show up everytime someone searches the Neopets keyword on Google. This costs a lot because of the amount of searches Neopets receives on a daily basis. You could also contact the bigger Neopets fansites like PinkPT and Thedailyneopets and see if they're willing to sell you some ad space. JellyNeo doesn't allow this, so its best to try the other bigger name Neopets fansites to advertise.

    If you're doing it via Facebook, then your advertisement will show up when users search for Neopets and come across their facebook page. It'll be listed as a sponsored posts and hope people click on your ad and come to your game.

    Some good advertisements to use if you're planning this method:
    "Need to be heard? Try our game instead."
    "Been frozen before? Our game has better standards."
    "Bored of Neopets? Our game is better."

    Of course, you should come up with your own advertising message that'll suit your site the best. Remember, Neopets is a huge site, but when you advertise directly to their users, you may find your game growing at a rapid pace. Marapets has done this before when their "Bored of neopets" campaign which resulted in a lot of people discussing their game and linking back. It was a good advertising campaign because it drove a lot of people to Marapets.

    So, what are some methods do you think will work while targeting Neopets' users?
    origins virtual pet site origins kickstarter

    Your banner/button can be located here for an entire month or year, please see our advertising on virtualpetlist thread for more information.

  2. GREAT Guide on How-to Advertise on NeoPets for your VirtualPetSite, Carlos! Its a great help!
  3. You're very welcome. I hope it helps out a lot of people.
  4. Very interesting way to advertise a site Cpvr! :)
  5. Didn't not too long ago Keith say something about how Neopets keywords in ad campaigns was one of the less effective of the ones he tested? Anyone please correct me if I'm wrong. I have no doubt that targeting Neopets players can be really effective, but I bet with a little research much greater bang for the buck can be found.
  6. Very good ideas Carlos
  7. That may be though because Subeta is geared more towards an older age group than neopets is so that may be why
  8. As an internet marketer I believe if you target/have money, then target Neopets. It really all comes down to this: "Do you want their players on your site?" Neopets grew from word of mouth and getting reviewed by a lot of bloggers.
  9. Quite interesting I'd say.
  10. @ianian does it all the time with his bored with neopets ad campaign and it works like a charm. Neopets users always seem to talk about Mara when this happens.
    #10 cpvr, Apr 16, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2013
  11. I worry what kind of users you are going to get with Neopets ads. Think about it. The demographic of most sites away from Neopets is over 13 and hopefully literate. Those kind of users and far and few between on Neopets, no offence to anyone. I'm one of those that goes on other sites and can have a conversation that doesn't include how cute Justine Believer is (you should all be nice to her, *nodnod*). I think advertising for Neopets people is sneaky and looks bad for the site.

    Do you know how much you have to live up to. Neopet's customer service sucks donkey but it has a lot of content. The only site that I can think of that compares is Subeta. Can you be that site?
  12. It doesn't really matter, Neopets users hear about pet games all the time especially if you target their users via Adwords/facebook. I feel that a lot of pet sites could compete heads on with Neopets if they advertised more and released more features.
    It's not really sneaky if you think about it. You want to grow your pet site the best way you know how. Pure business sense, really.
    Marapets has 4 million users and Subeta has 95,000, so that tells you something doesn't it?
    Like another way to target Neopets users is via twitter and using hashtags to promote to Neo's users.

    Since Neopets is owned by Viacom, you might need to contact Google or Facebook and get your ad manager so that they could help you advertise to their members.
  13. Subeta only has 95,000 because we frequently delete old accounts. We hit 100,000 users when @QuetzalQuetzal was still a new staff member :x
    #13 Keith, Apr 16, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2013
  14. Oh, how often do you clear accounts? After a year no logins, or?
    #14 cpvr, Apr 17, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2013
  15. That is low. Not that it matters.

    Why not target people of other popular and similar not-virtual-pet fandoms? Considering most other petsites I've seen, your website probably won't have enough flash games to be similar to Neopets.
    #15 Zoe Kaw, Apr 30, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011
  16. This is a very long post.... Worth reading though!

    To be completely honest, in my own opinion, there is no virtual pet website that can truly compete with Neopets, and it has nothing to do with the amount of users in which the website has. Yes, Marapets might have 4 million registered members stored in their database, but to be completely honest, I believe that if a user is not active on the website (does not login) for a period of 90 days, they should not be included in the statistic number shown the the public, because if they are not active, they are not really users. Beyond that, if a website has that many database instances, things are going to slow down a bit, as MySQL will be going though so much un-necessary data, therefor I believe that users that are NOT active for a period of 180 days should be removed from the primary user table, and stored in one elsewhere, like a restoration table. Users that are put in the restoration table would then be required to go through email activation to restore their account. Also, finally, users that are inactive for 240 days, will be reset -- clearing up more data. Meaning if they re-activate their account, they will have to start off fresh. That should clear up my opinion on user counts.

    Next, what I utilize and reccomend, is that every 3 months a crontab is run that will utilize email verification to verify the authenticity of the emails that are stored for users accounts. If a users email is invalid, they are alerted on the site, and given 60 days to provide and activate an email address, in association with their account, otherwise they will be suspended. That is another thing, suspended and banned users should NOT be included in statistics counts, and should be completely removed after 60 days of being banned or suspended. By the way, you have to be careful with how you store email addresses in your databases. 90% of Virtual Pet Websites on the internet currently risk being shut down, and possibly have legal proceedings, as they are not following COPPA to the fullest extent. I recommend ALL owners read carefully over the following agreement, and plan the steps necessary to put the necessary precautions and changes in place.

    Due to this, no Virtual Pet Game that does NOT obide by COPPA fully will ever reach the size of Neopets, as they are not conducting legal privacy practices. Some sites are making small steps, but in all reality, I could take down pretty much every petsite right now, by contacting the Federal Trade Commission. A lot of people also say their websites are not hosted in the US therefore they do not abide by COPPA. If you are allowing traffic from the US, and allowing users to register in the US, you must abide by COPPA. Otherwise, you can not in all reality, allow users in the US to view, or utilize your website.

    Now, back to Neopets. It is the mother of all Petsites, the one that motivated all that is now part of the Niche, to be existant. Without Neopets, there would be no Virtual Pets -- well, there might be, but it would be someone else who came up with it. Every niche has a leader, and that leader will always stand on top. Neopets is not just a website, it offers merchandise, video games, television shows, upcoming movies, public events, and so much more. Neopets is a movement. Also, look at it this way, you think all Neopets users are terrible and immature, you are only seeing the ones who ARE, and that publicize this, the true avid respectful players, are way too busy actually being involved with the game, to be rambling off about crap. NeoPets is huge, lets go over a case study.

    NeoPets, acquired by Viacom's MTV in 2005, was one of the first companies to tap the potential of the youth market on the Internet. The British college students conceived the NeoPets notion in 1999. In the following year, Dohring, Inc., a market research firm, bought the concept. Its chairman and CEO, Doug Dohring, said, "I saw it like Disney in the early days. You introduce the characters in an entertainment medium, create a worldwide following, and then create products to generate a business model." NeoPets is headquartered in Glendale, California (U.S.). Although it does not release revenue figures, Dohring indicated that the company became profitable after only four months and has revenues in eight figures (US dollars). In 2005, it had almost 100 employees, half of whom produce content for the Web site. NeoPets is the first company to start on the Internet and then be successful at capturing profitable online sales

    eoPets earns about 60 percent of it revenue from advertisers on it Web site and about 40 percent from merchandise sales (such as toys, jewelry, and playing cards sold at Target) and tie-in promotions, such as cards and toys that McDonald's gave with it Happy Meals. NeoPets permits no banners or pop-up ads. Instead, it uses what it calls immersive advertising, in which a game and advertising are inseparable. For instance, members and their pets may play games with the rabbit that is on General Mills' Trix box or play gold by using a Reese's peanut butter ball. All the products and services that members buy are associated with the sponsors. NeoPets has its own currency, Neopoints, that members earn by playing games, solving puzzles, watching ads, and answering questionnaires and content questions that deal with the advertisers' products. Advertisers pay NeoPoets in four ways: (1) by placing an item, shop, or immersive ad on the Web site; (2) paying a sliding scale fee based on the number of times that members connect to the company link form the Web site; (3) paying for the number of times that members connect to the company link form the Web site; and (4) paying the market research, in terms of research, Universal Pictures assessed awareness of a forthcoming children's movie, and Wal-Mart found out how many had visited its store in the last two months. Members compete between 6,000 and 8,000 questionnaires per day, and NeoPets can report, for example, on whether teenage boys or teenage girls are more interested in a new cereal-related character.

    The advertisers, which NeoPets lines up through both direct sales and ad agencies, look like an A-list of companies, including the Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks, General Mills, Hasbro, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, LEGO, Mars, Mattel, McDonalds, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and New Line Cinema. The appeals to advertise are several. First, NeoPets consistently ranks in the top 10 Web sites for stickiness, the time each user spends on the site. In fact, a study by Media Metrix in 2005 showed it to be the second stickiness site on the web. NeoPets has been getting about 2.3 million hits per month, which is more than any other entertainment Web site, and it has growth of about 27,000 new users per day. Almost all the membership and growth worldwide have been by word or mouth. Some surveys show that there have been double-digit increases in trying a product once members have seen it in an embedded game.

    Unlike video games that appeal to males, about 60 percent of NeoPets members are females. About 39 percent of members are under age 13, 40 percent between 13 and 17 and 21 percent over 17. The company attributes the appeal to females to its lack of violence and inclusion of puzzles and a poetry contest.

    NeoPets claims that the site offers a substantial learning experience because it deals with economics, business, computer programming, and writing. For instance prices go up when there is additional demand, stock market prices are variable, members have to earn and save enough to buy their supplies, and members cannot ignore a discarded pet because it will send them e-mails for help or to ask for another chance.

    Given to internet nature of NeoPets, the company's membership was international form the start. By 2001, it estimates that 40 percent of its business was outside the United States, mainly in other English-language countries. It has since added linkages to nine other languages with translation so that members from different languages areas can chat by e-mail with each other. Figure 16.5 shows the languages in which NeoPets serves its clientele along with the percentage of people online who are native speakers of these languages. With these languages, NeoPets is available to 89.9 percent of global Internet users. If it were to add Malay, Arabic, Russian, and Polish, it would serve another 5.5 percent. However, it you refer back to figure 16.5, you'll see that present online growth rates may alter these figures substantially. Further, in some low-income countries, Internet cafes offer access to many more people. Given the international dispersion of membership, NeoPets is able to provide national versions so that members are connected to these versions when the system reads their email addresses. These versions allow the company to give advertisers the option of omitting certain locations, such as where they may have no operations, and then paying less for the advertising services. It also allows the company to add local advertisers.

    Given the age of the bulk of NeoPets' members, the company has been careful to protect them. All children under age 13 must have parents sign and either fax or post an approval before allowing them to use the site. Although children age 13 and over must provide demographic information along with their names, NeoPets provides only aggregate information to advertisers. Thus members receive no free samples or follow-up advertising. NeoPets' Web content is nonviolent. For Instance, although the pets can combat each other in games there is no bloodshed. NeoPets has developed a proprietary monitoring system to prevent profanity, stalking, or anything vaguely sexual in the chat rooms. In addition, it has 14 staff member who monitor chat rooms and message boards 24 hours a day. NeoPets allows no religious or political postings; no did it allow any mention of 9/11. It wants to maintain a strictly fun experience.

    Nevertheless, NeoPets has its critics. The primary criticism is about its advertisements to children. Commercial Alert, a nonprofit group founded by Ralph Nader, says that content should be clearly labeled as advertising. Presently although some advertisers put a notice at the beginning of a game, such as in the Lucky Charms game, there is nothing within the games to so indicate. In contrast, television advertising clearly labels content, and there is often an announcement such as, "kids, we'll be right back after this message."

    Whereas a television as my run 20 seconds, children may play an advertising game for 20 minutes. The American Psychological Associations says that children under age 9 have difficulty distinguishing ads from entertainment, and those under age 12 can seldom make intelligent purchasing decisions.

    There have been other objections as well. A parents' group in Australia complained that the McDonalds game promoted gambling because of giving prizes on the basis of chance. NeoPets then removed some games from the Australian version of the Web site. Some conservative Christian and Jewish groups have disapproved of the prohibitions of religious content. Some critics have claimed that the overabundance of junk food ads is contributor to obesity. They have also worried that so much time on the web site (6 hours and 15 minutes per month, according to one study) hurts children's studies and extracurricular activities. Finally, in spite of all NeoPets' precautions, a hacker managed to get into the Web site and lure a 12-year-old British girl to have sex. (The predator, an American, has since been sentenced to four and a half years in jail.)

    NeoPets, Inc. has come a long way since its creation in 1999 by two British college students. It now boasts over 178 million users owning over 262 million NeoPets, and an astounding 867-plus billion page views in 11 languages ("Pets Central," n.d.). NeoPets is a free virtual world, or “interactive Web site where visitors can create online pets, play games, buy and sell imaginary items their pets need, exchange messages with other NeoPets enthusiasts-and spend loads of time exploring advertiser-driven features†(Schnuer, 2005, p. 1). According to Daniels, Radebaugh, & Sullivan (2007) advertising sales, its primary revenue generating activity, is accomplished in four ways:

    (1) By placing an item, shop or immersive ad on the Web site; (2) paying a sliding scale; (3) paying for the number of times that members connect to the company link from the Web site; and (4) paying for market research. (p. 592)

    While NeoPets’ success to date is unequivocal, other children’s products, such as the Hula Hoops, have shown us how success can be fleeting. To continue its ascension, NeoPets must continue to pursue a strategic marketing orientation that emphasizes target market and segment customization vice standardization, and product diversification. It must also seek to improve its perceived level of social responsibility. This will enable it to grow its markets while at the same time enabling it to deal with regulatory issues and cultural differences, mitigating risk

  17. I agree with the "I don't think you can really compete with Neopets" part of the wall of text above me, and it was a nice read!

    To other petsites, I recommend that you don't really try to compete with ANYONE - just make your petsite special and make it as good as you can.
  18. Sounds like a good idea. I would do this if I owned a virtual pet website.
  19. You can compete with anyone if you set your mind to it. At least, that's how I look at things. What, I believe is everyone is out in the market to gain new users and grow via word of mouth. Your art and features usually speak for your site along side the community. If you have a very friendly atmosphere/community, new people will flock in and tell their friends. Thus, the catch 22 action. That's how Neopets grew via word of mouth, commercials, their merchandise, fan sites and things like that.
  20. thanks for that info !

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