So here we are (finally) at the conclusion of my interview series with the Empire Avenue team. Part 1 focused on the latest network addition to the site, Google+. Part 2 was a mixed bag of questions about everything from Facebook to Pinterest.
I’ll start with question 9 just to get it out of the way because it was somewhat off-topic but it popped into my head mid-stream. Questions 10 and 11 are the meat of this article – we get into the “why” and “how” of the greater vision of the site and how that vision is changing.
“…we are a startup and we are continuously trying to improve the product to achieve our goals of world domination :)”
From Empire Avenue:
Ric Williams (e)RICEAV
Chief Operating Officer
Duleepa “Dups” Wijayawardhana (e)DUPS
We know that Empire Avenue collects data from each network at unique intervals throughout the day ie. not in “real time” but could you shed some light on what happens with the Market Maker in this scenario:
1. User uploads photo to Flickr 15 minutes before their market closes
2. Market closes
3. The upload appears on their Empire Avenue activity ledger 45 minutes after their market has closed.
Will this upload count toward their activity on the following day or is it lost?
Dups: We take into account that in any given day our lookups may in fact cross timelines of when the market closes. In fact our system is geared to allow for 24 hours of continuous market maker closes as we grow, so far because of intense optimization we’ve been able to keep our market makers to a 2 hour window. As such, we do not “lose” much activity. We actually try to look at activity on a “wholistic” level and never allow something like 15 mins before or just after affect the social media part of the market makers. Short answer: You are safe!
Empire Avenue (EAv) presents a fascinating paradox between “social gaming” and “social networking” in that the players actually are the game themselves. I’m sure that this juxtaposition causes many internal squabbles regarding how you wish to promote social behavior vs. negatively impacting the game. Many players “play” but there are also a large number of users who view Empire Avenue as a stand-alone social network in and of itself.
Why is there such a steep cost to connect i.e. be social on Empire Avenue?
Many users (most?) are required to achieve a relative level of success in the “game” (portfolio expansions come at a heavy in-game price) before they are able to network with more than 1,000 people. Given that there are fiscal levers (for lack of a better term) that EAv developers can and do implement to limit the game effects of larger numbers of connections (5,000 limit on dividend earnings, for example) so wouldn’t it make sense and entice new users to expand if they had a connection cap closer to the 5,000 that they are used to on networks like Facebook and Google+?
I think there’s a logical disconnect between “you are rewarded for being social” and “we will only let you be THIS social”. It would be great if you could help us understand the obvious game reasons for the Pie upgrades to purchase more shares and the “buy more” upgrades to expand our portfolios.
Dups: Well, there’s lots in that question Ryan, but it comes down to the fact that this is a hard nut for us to crack and answer. We can say that we are constantly evaluating what it means to be social. We fully get that our recent change to the messaging of “Expand”, “Engage” and “Evaluate” will require some tweaks to what we have done in the past… and we’re working on that… you’ll likely see minor tweaks daily. And remember, we are a startup and we are continuously trying to improve the product to achieve our goals of world domination :) So, basically, for this question: “Watch this space!”
Several of the old Advisers and new “evaluate” tabs seem to misrepresent the way data is scored. Should we be using these as Empire Avenue scoring benchmarks or is this data only to be used as a “bonus” for being an Empire Avenue subscriber? For example, under Empire Avenue there is “extra” data presented such as dividend payouts but the LinkedIn tab displays nothing.
Ric: Evaluate data is highly dependent on what is available through our connection’s APIs. We are currently investigating paid models behind more stats so that power users can more accurately see what is happening to their networks based on their activities.
Dups: In addition, the dividend payout information for Empire Avenue is for the entire set of networks and not for ‘Empire Avenue the Network’ itself. Each network is a separate entity and should be examined as such. We are definitely not trying to misrepresent data :)
Should “evaluate” data points be used to understand how network score is calculated? if not, what is the purpose behind displaying the info that is not used by the Market Maker?
Dups: You can use Evaluate Data points as a basis to frame your Social Media networking. For example, tracking how many followers you are gaining and how popular your retweets are. We use ALL the data in our market makers but (and this is a big but), looking at one data point is never a good thing and some data we just don’t have the space to show. Some examples: we don’t necessarily show the reach of a retweet, but it is part of our calculation (makes sense right, the more retweets you get to a bigger audience the more engaged you must be), and of course we don’t show all your retweets right now as an example of not having enough space to show. Basically, there’s more in the market makers than we have space to show. It’s a basic analytic view that we currently give.