The growing number of influential Weibo commentators are increasingly opening their own online shops or promoting products.
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With a business model based on both commerce and advertising revenues, and an audience of teens, Alloy.com takes another approach to community and stickiness on its site, where 1.3 million unique visitors each month rack up an average 14 minutes per visit according to May figures from Media Metrix. “The community features are what keep users on the site the longest,” says Susan Kaplow, director of content. “Applications that let teens express themselves in the form of quizzes, polls and other voting mechanisms are extremely sticky applications for the site, as are the different forms they can use to message each other. Teens are by nature inquisitive, and are constantly belly-button gazing as they figure it all out. An adult doesn’t make time to do that.”
But because teens do, Alloy can monitor the popularity of various applications and integrate them with contextually relevant shopping opportunities. Fashion quizzes, for example, one of the site’s stickiest features, might link directly to merchandise offerings. Having built its base of registered uses to 2.3 million over the four years since its launch, Alloy now is seeking to leverage it by going after more sponsorship opportunities with big advertisers. It already has deals with top consumer products companies such as Procter & Gamble and Eastman Kodak. Analysts project that the company’s 1999 revenues of $30 million will more than double to $70 million this year; a much larger percentage of revenues than in years past is expected to come from sponsorship deals.
Within the mantra of content, community and commerce, stickiness has a particular meaning for retail sites, and its value to those sites depends on their objectives. As in the case of Alloy, stickiness may stretch out into lengthy stays with content designed to build and hold an audience that can be merchandised for ad revenues as well as commerce. For others, the value of stickiness is measured in a few minutes of extra time per visitor that link directly to cross selling and upselling opportunities.
“At the end of the day, stickiness is really nothing more than a clever way for web site owners to describe the user’s total experience,” says Andrew Lickly, product manager at Akamai. “It’s means knowing your audience and trying to provide them with the best user experience possible.”