Nickelodeon Jumps On "Virtual City" Bandwagon: Nicktropolis For Tweens

Viacom-owned Nickelodeon previewed its latest interactive offering Monday, a “virtual city” called Nicktropolis, its most ambitious digital venture yet. The launch is strategically before Disney.com relaunch, which competes with Nick’s properties and plans to include some similar social networking and gaming experiences.
Nicktropolis, which launches Tuesday, offers a variety of interactive experiences, such as a social network, chat rooms and downloadable video. And while Nicktropolis will eventually make room for user-generated content, the site’s most prominent feature is its games section. Nickelodeon executives offering the press a tour of the site note that it was shaped, and validated by, the MTVN property’s latest research study, Living in a Digital World.
While Nickelodeon’s audience is generally 6-14 years of age, the site is aimed at tweens, particularly those 9-14. Nickelodeon also noted that it has worked with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a nationwide advocacy group, to ensure the site’s kid-safety features. Aside from other protections, Nicktropolis also requires that each time a kid logs in, parents are notified via e-mail. At the moment, there are no advertisers on the site, though executives noted that there will eventually be space for banners and other advertising. But more than that, Jason Root, VP of Nick.com, said they want to take “baby steps” when it comes to this issue of ads and how it will connect with other Nickelodeon web properties. “We don’t believe in having one huge portal,” Root said. “We just want there to be linkage among the sites and complementary experiences. That’s why we made sure users can access Nicktropolis through a stand-alone site as well as through Nick.com. In terms of advertising, there are many things that we can’t anticipate when it comes to how kids will use it. We want to see what happens and then take our cues from that, as opposed to imposing a structure on it for advertisers and users that might not make sense.” Release.
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