Real Life In Second Life: SEAT Analytics Platform

October 28th, 2009  |  Published in Real Life in Second Life, SL Entrepreneur Magazine

By Compe Lockwood
It’s not easy being green.  Just ask Kermit the Frog.  Second Life likes green too – check your mini map next time you’re in-world. See all the little green dots representing people? And while mini maps are a good start for tracking folks (and voyeurism), serious data tracking requires serious tools – like the one at SEAT Auto Emoticon Island.

SEAT's Second Life analytics platform dashboard offers a heat map outlining the most popular island locations.

(SEAT’s Second Life analytics platform dashboard offers a heat map outlining the most popular island locations.)

I’m no stranger to SEAT. The largest Spanish automobile manufacturer has one of the most interactive car sites in Second Life. During a recent story assignment , I test drove their hot cars, explored an abyss and relaxed on a virtual beach. And while I watched them, they were watching me.  I was a data point and so are you.

But no cause for alarm; this is no Orwellian ‘Big Brother’ monitoring reckless driving and speeding on an automobile SIM (I was), but rather a method to check who goes where, why they do and how long they stay. “It enables our clients to ‘see’ the performance of different areas,” said Mateo Austin, spokesperson for Mosi-Mosi. His company created the metrics tool that monitors these virtual footprints.
“Second Life does not offer such a tool,” he noted. “So we built one. And if people are encouraged to experience a site, the owner needs a way to show what kind of performance visited areas are having.” Do not confuse this tool with SL’s map function. SEAT goes beyond plotted little green dots. Like NBC television used to say, this is “brought to you in living color.”

Screenshot from SEAT's Second Life analytics platform, the colored bars represent resident interactions on their island.

(Left: Screenshot from SEAT’s Second Life analytics platform – the colored bars represent resident interactions on their island.)

Resembling a solar system chart, color codes tell it all: green bars correspond to the number of cars handed out. Yes, SEAT gives away automobiles – virtual ones. Blue bars represent other freebies bestowed on visitors. Gifts include everything from crash helmets to scuba gear. Orange displays interactions with games, times played and successful resolutions.

Other colors respond to differences in altitude or depth. Purple corresponds to the lowest area, SEAT’s fathomless sea which guards The Secret of the Unknown Abyss. Bars, dots and colors track the number of visitors within a given time span and the average time spent per visit to the island. The tool processes, number crunches and spits out reports while visiting avatars are blissfully unaware.

Armed with this data, supervisors can make decisions on what works and what doesn’t. The information is combined with surveys and visitor questionnaires that help form a complete picture of life on SEAT.
My first impression was concern that this may be intrusive. But it’s not. The metrics don’t report anything you aren’t willing to do in public. And if SEAT is willing to let me test drive their cars, they have a right to know where I’m driving it.  When I deep sea dive at the abyss they are entitled to know how long it takes me to be eaten by a shark. However, after interpreting the data, I wish they would help me fend off the shark. But that’s just me.

Software like this is the future for SL business. There is just too much at stake to allow avatars a walk about on a free playground. RL businesses constantly monitor marketing trends and customer behavior. SL enterprises will too. Survival depends on data points.
Hot Spot sensors are scattered throughout the SEAT Island. They analyze your visit, communicate with each other and collaborate on reports. Don’t worry; it’s painless. Please continue your test drive.
“Without a systematic detailed process of collecting data, everything relies on hearsay, anecdotal evidence or guesswork,” said Mateo. “We can see what goes well and what needs improving.” It is vital information for investors and business owners investing RL money in SL sites.

In the meantime, there are cars to race, freebies to pluck, and sharks to out-maneuver. All under the watchful eye of SEAT.

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