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@ Econ SM: Keynote Q&A Steve Wadsworth; The Problem Is Too Many Measurements

swisherdisneyJust in case you were curious: The Miley Cyrus pictures will not be appearing on anytime soon, at least according to Steve Wadsworth, President, Walt Disney Internet Group (NYSE: DIS). Stepping back from recent history to ancient history, during a keynote Q&A at EconSM, Kara Swisher asked Wadsworth to go back and discuss Disney’s early (and largely failed) internet forays during the last boom: “Our experience with the internet pretty much parallels the history of the internet.” Basically, like everyone else, Disney thought it was all about being a player in the portal space, and it thought it needed to own the gateway between the consumer and its content. Wadsworth: “”Let’s establish our own position in the space. The thinking was a good one, but the timing was so off.” Swisher: “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln…”

Business models: Wadsworth: “Ultimately, what this game is about is creating phenomenal creative product… We’re focused on creativity — creating content that engages a large audience.” He then talked about the need to keep iterating, learning from what works and applying it elsewhere. For the company’s organically launched Toontown, the initial business model was “sign-up for free and play for three days and if you don’t give us your credit card, we kick you out.” This failed. Only when it learned from Club Penguin, did it learn to let people play as much for free as they wanted, but then to charge them for certain specific things. Also, the Club Penguin franchise can go the other way. We’re used to seeing web and merchandise base off of movies (eg Pirates of the Carribean), but there will be opportunities to do offline stuff with Club Penguin.

Deals?: Wadsworth was asked whether Disney could be interested in buying Webkinz, though he demured by insisting “I don’t know Webkinz is for sale.” Swisher: “Everything is for sale… except Yahoo.” As for other startup trends that Wadsowrth is seeing: “there’s a lot of versions of the same thing” (yes there are).

Advertising: One frustration of Wadsworth’s: “As measurable as this medium is, there are too many measurements.” Brand advertisers still don’t know what kind of ROI they’re getting, or really how to judge what they should be spending on a given chunk of ad inventory: “They understand TV, and they’re familiar with what the metrics mean.” To which he added: “To say they’re slow means they’re being savvy and smart.” Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is the one company that offers a clear proposition, hence their success.

Video advertising: “We have tons of video… mostly it’s 15-second or 30-second pre-roll slots.” This has to change, Wadsworth acknowledged, since pre-roll is an engagement killer. At “interactive ad experience leads to much higher engagement.” The problem is that advertisers are hesitant to spend the money on new creative for these interactive ads… at least that’s Wadsworths view.

2 Responses to “@ Econ SM: Keynote Q&A Steve Wadsworth; The Problem Is Too Many Measurements”

  1. mir4mad

    Taken from the La Times;
    "Disney insiders said the decision came down to a question of resources. Should the company maintain Virtual Magic Kingdom, which peaked at about 1 million users, or invest in a richer portfolio of online worlds that incorporate advanced graphics and storytelling and appeal to a broader audience?

    Nonetheless, they said the decision was as painful as closing a classic ride at a real-world amusement park and that Disney was considering ways to allow community members to stay in touch.

    "At Disney, we'd rather do anything in the world than disappoint a guest," said John Spelich, a Disney Internet Group spokesman. "But we hope our VMK players will choose to sample some of the other ways to engage with Disney online through or through virtual worlds."

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Guess what Mr Wadsworth and Mr. Spelich? You are disappointing a guest that just visited WDW and believes in the magic of disney.

    Disney NEVER gave VMK players the option to pay to play. There is and never will be an online game like VMK. It's like being in the disney parks every day. You can't recreate or replace that. You are a real person on VMK- not a penguin, toon, pirate, car or fairy. It's not game/task oriented. You can use your imagination like no other game. Believe me we have tried them all.
    You can create as many avatars as you want right now on the Fairies site- there is nothing else to do there. That's not a fair assessment of it's popularity. My daughter has been on it, created a few fairies, got bored and has not gone back.
    Some of the other disney games promote violence, fighting, killing, destroying and gambling. There is enough of that in the real world.VMK is a safe, family, friendly online world.
    Many VMK users are kids- kids who don't have a voice. Kids who go to VMK to escape their day to day lives;to bring some magic into it and give them the courage to face their troubles. Kids who can meet up with a friend because they can't in real life because of illnesses and disabilities. Kids who can play with their mom, dad, siblings and aunts etc. who are near or far. These kids have feelings & are are hurting right now. How can disney do this to these kids?
    I've bought every e-toy and paid for every online world that has come out in the last year for my daughter trying to keep her happy. Because of a disease called spinal muscular atrophy she can not move very well and the only activity she can do by herself is the computer. When she has free time that is what she loves to do. VMK has been her playground, her canvas, her school. It's more than a game- it's a community of amazing friends. My daughter has cried over and over. Please disney just give me the real reason you are shutting my daughter out from her friends and her family?
    How can you sleep at night? because I have one child who can't and may NEVER get over this loss!
    Where is the disney magic? Its all about the money isn't it??????