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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mass Interactive: Wal-Mart Aborts Teen "Hub" Mission

Less than three months after launching its quasi-social-networking site aimed at teens, Wal-Mart has shut down the Hub.

The homepage at now simply reads "Back to Class" and explains, "Sorry, but the School Your Way promotion has ended." After a few seconds, visitors are automatically redirected to

"The Hub" was designed by Wal-Mart to allow teens to "express their individuality" but it screened all the content, informed parents when their kids joined and forbade users to e-mail one another. Teens were invited to create their own page so they could "show it to the world and win some fab prizes," including a chance to have their videos appear in a Wal-Mart TV commerical. Users complained the site was too promotional and had too many fake user profiles.

Wal-Mart launched the site to coincide with its back-to-school campaign in mid-July and to close the trend gap it faces with Target as it aims to win more teen-apparel dollars.

In August, the site attracted 91,000 unique visitors, according to ComScore Networks. Social-networking giant garnered 55.8 million unique visitors the same month.

via AdAge

AKI COMMENT: Air Force, Wal-Mart. To quote Pink Floyd: "Leave dem kids alone!". It is refreshing to see that the ecosystem of the web and social networking can withstand foreign invaders, right itself, and expunge the germs. And rather quickly, too. Trust Systems like EBay make it difficult for a sheister to conduct business for long. And social networks are proving the same is true for the awkward looking "cool" advertisers who look like your dad clad in shades spouting some out-of-context lingo and otherwise stinkin' up the party.

The problem with "hot" trends and movements like social networking is that everybody (advertisers and brands) assumes they should (and can) do it, too. Even when brand doesn't align with the tactic or particular party they're infringing on. The recent bandwagon wave of advertisers putting on sunglasses and posing in chat rooms (or in this case, trying to own the whole damn thing rather than try to humbly participate) is coming to some harsh ends, and the rightful players will succeed without the predators skulking about.

I will give Wal-Mart the point for TRYING SOMETHING. At least they are adopting an innovator's mindset of fast failure. Hopefully the lessons in technique have been learned. And hopefully they won't go the other route that big advertisers tend to take after such attempts (and failures) - which is to get mad and insist "this social internet thing is dead", solely because they didn't do it right.

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