Kids network Nickelodeon is getting into the virtual world arena with the launch of Nicktropolis, which will allow users to create avatars to interact with cartoon characters like Spongebob Squarepants, play games, watch videos of Nickelodeon content and socialize with others users.
As its initial advertising foray, the company plans on linking the ad-supported video features of its TurboNick broadband channel directly to the Nicktropolis world, which can be reached through its own domain, or through the original Nick.com site.
Sponsorship opportunities will also be made available. "What you will see very soon is some sort of umbrella sponsorship, but we are taking baby steps," said Nick.com VP Jason Root.
However, while advertisers like Paramount Pictures and Holiday Inn are part of the Nick.com site, Nickelodeon's plan for Nicktropolis, at least at first, is to "launch the site advertising free," said Steve Youngwood, EVP digital media for Nickelodeon and the MTV Networks Kids and Family Group.
"We're working with our marketing partners to figure out what is the most effective way to handle the user experience," said Youngwood. "Clearly there is room for the more traditional banners, but we are also looking for other ways to fit the integrity of the experience."
Nickelodeon, which is a subsidiary of Viacom Inc.’s MTV Networks, moved to build Nicktropolis after seeing an increase in gaming and broadband video use, according to Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group.
The company will require users to register anonymously with the site using a nickname, and will require a parent’s e-mail address for authorization to ensure compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. The site is targeted towards kids 6 to 14 years old, and will also include foul language filters.
“We believe that Nicktropolis is as safe as we can make it for kids," said Zarghami.
Nicktropolis is part of the Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group online community aimed at preschoolers, kids, teens and parents. The group of sites includes Nick.com, Nickjr.com, nick-at-nite.com, Quizilla, The-N, Noggin.com, Neopets and Shockwave.com.
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