Here in the UK, Yahoo have been promoting Yahoo People through some display advertising (I first saw the ads over at Brand Republic last year) and trying to push it towards viral status.
I think it's a nice idea but it's too much effort to get started and that's why it's not viral.
With Yahoo People you create an avatar of yourself. This avatar lives in the virtual Yahoo People world and as you interact with different Yahoo services your Yahoo People avatar learns new abilities. For example, to teach your Yahoo Avatar to break dance then you muck around on Yahoo Music.
So, why is this too much effort for me? I have no art talent and you need to draw your avatar. You upload a headshot of yourself, resize it to fit on a body and then you're supposed to trace around the image to convert your photohead to a sketchhead. That's beyond me. I've tried, tried and tried - just can't do it. I don't have the mouse dexterity!
The products that Yahoo are pushing via Yahoo People are Yahoo Answers, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Music. The search engine optimisation crowd will grin because although Yahoo People is a Flash site Yahoo have remembered to include text links to these pages below the Flash. It's also worth noting (with a grin) that the Yahoo Answers, Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Music links point to the US address - ie,
uk.news.yahoo.com. Yahoo Sports points to the European URL of
The banner adverts I've seen for Yahoo People feature different avatars from various participants. What I don't know is whether these Flash banners are static and just chosen at random/with bias for the campaign or whether they're a dynamic element of the Yahoo People viral site itself.
I think it would be much cooler if the system picked the best avatars automatically to appear in the banners. That would then give you a real incentive for your avatars to do well. Just imagine, you could have a dancing Danny Sullivan of Third Door Media capering in the corner of Brand Republic! - that would certainly persuade me to try and draw my own avatar one more time.