Some of you may recall the South Korean app Zepeto that went viral among Gen Z users a year and a half ago. The app, which renders selfies into animated avatars and lets people adorn their computer-generated manifestations with virtual items, appears to have sustained its relevance. It has amassed 150 million registered users, the company told TechCrunch recently, although its number of monthly active users, which is a better metric to gauge an app’s performance, hovers around 10 million.
China is by far the largest market for Zepeto, locally known as Zaizai (崽崽), an affectionate nickname for children. “Zaizai aspires to develop into a comprehensive ecosystem while also offering robust content across China,” affirmed CEO Daewook Kim.
The app has benefited from its pedigreed background. It was developed by the selfie app Snow, of which parent company Naver also owns the Asian messaging giant Line, though it was spun off from Snow this month into a subsidiary called Naver Z.
It’s not uncommon for a popular photo-editing tool to fade out as people move onto the next trending alternative, either because the new player arrives with more impressive visual capabilities or its marketing stunt creates a spell on many — or both. As such, apps that are disposable and serve utility purposes often have to think hard about retaining their users or engage aggressively to monetize them while the going is still good.
Zepeto did both.
The app includes a social networking function where users can interact anonymously through their avatars in virtual spaces akin to The Sims. The challenge with that, of course, is building a big enough network that lures people to keep returning.
Zepeto also comprises of a series of mini games that are evocative of what Lee described as peaceful exploration people are enjoying in red-hot Animal Crossing.
In other words, the business is ripe for selling virtual items. Indeed, the leader in this category of business, Tencent, once generated the bulk of its income from the items it sold to decorate users’ virtual profiles and spaces, a business modeled on the South Korean internet pioneer Cyworld. That was before Tencent earned a wider global reputation by building WeChat and operating blockbuster video games.
Zepeto has so far generated some $10 million from 600 million pieces of virtual items sold. It stepped up the effort recently by launching a creative marketplace where third-party artists can offer their virtual lines of clothes and accessories. Called Zepeto Studio, the store clocked around $700,000 in sales in its first month. Many add-ons are branded — a common strategy for photo-enhancement apps — so you can sport things like virtual Nike apparel.
“We’ve partnered with global brands like Disney and Nike, as well as celebrities like BTS. We hope to continue to bring exciting partnerships to Zaizai Studio as well as better service to our creators,” said Rudy Lee, head of Zepeto’s global business, adding that the Studio feature for China is scheduled to launch mid-May.
If enough people keep using Zepeto, the third-party store can be a lucrative pursuit for designers. Among Zepeto’s 60,000 registered artists, the highest-paid creator pocketed some $9,000 in sales in the first month.
But as numbers grow, Zepeto is also getting cautious about keeping its marketplace civil. The firm maintains an internal moderation team that weeds out “political messaging, hate speech, or discriminatory messaging on the virtual clothes,” said Lee. The rule is particularly pertinent to its development in China where the flow of information is strictly controlled.
Another way to survive as a utility tool is to piggyback off another app’s success. We have written about the way PicsArt, a photo-editing app that rivals VSCO, managed to stay in the game by supporting TikTok-inspired stickers. Zepeto has taken notice. Many of its users are now sharing their animated avatars on Douyin, the Chinese edition of TikTok, observed Lee.
(This story was updated on May 7, 2020 to clarify that Zepeto was created by Snow and was later spun off into a subsidiary called Naver Z.)
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
Continue Reading Below
Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
Continue Reading Below
But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
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