We can’t fake it…nor would we want to…nor do we have to

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By Danny Wilchesky, Founder and CPO @Seed_Interactiv

Fake news. Click bait. Click fraud. Forced viewership. The illusion of interactions.

Today’s world is inundated with fake. How ironic, given that today’s culture is obsessed with authentic.

In 2015, a blank :30 second video was placed on YouTube (Hubspot August 12, 2015). $1,400.00 was spent to promote the video on YouTube’s trueview platform. The blank video received 100,000 views. Simple math equates to a view costs 1.4 cents. In other words, for $14,000 the video would have crossed the all so valuable million view mark, with absolutely nothing to say or show.

Here’s the best part: on average, viewers were said to have watched 61% of the video. 61% of nothing.

For every code, there is an ability to de-code, and for every marketing tactic within any marketing channel, someone, somewhere, has derived a way to artificially create the metrics you want or need.

It’s a fool’s game, but one that many of us have often been forced to play. As the benchmarks get set, and new standards achieved, we all fall prey to the demands of what has been termed “vanity metrics.” It’s marketing’s version of “the tragedy of the commons.”

But sooner or later, the illusion is revealed. And after sinking millions of dollars into a program that made us look and sometimes feel better, we realize that in “truth” we aren’t really better.

At Seed, “faking it” is never an option. Aside from our firm belief in the value of knowing and the scientific method, what we do does not even allow us to fool ourselves. We build games and experiences that either get users and retain them or they don’t. There is no fooling the system, because the data is right in front of us. Views don’t count, .01 second dwell times don’t count, all that matters is whether or not someone played our game or experienced our program. We cannot push results—we can only pull them.

When faced with these hard realities, you need to learn hard lessons about risk and reward. You need to create a business model that allows you to greatly increase the chances that when ready, your product will perform as expected.

In our studio, we continue learn and develop new ways to improve our winning percentage. Our core competencies around product and digital game development have really helped us build the proper process. From initial concept creation, to rapid prototyping, to A-B testing, our iterative lean process is applied to every project we take on. We might not always start with absolute greatness, but we certainly know how to improve and try to get there.

The results have been impressive. With conversion metrics that start at 18% and continue to climb, 7 day retention rates in the 30-40% range, as well as award winning games and products, we have been able to hone our model to deliver excellence.

Our belief is that business generally—and marketing specifically— is mostly about risk, and this doesn’t stop at process. Our business model around investment, partnerships and clients also reflects our understanding about where the risks are and how to manage them financially. Optimizing our product performance while also optimizing our and our stakeholder’s investment spend is the equation that works for us.

All in all, we’re looking for the beauty of massive user engagement without overspending to get there. Nothing short of that will work for us.

Illusory successes and vanity metrics, today’s version of snake oil might be ok for some, but not for those truly in search of success.

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