VOY Plaza Blends Virtual Reality With Social Networking For Latinos
The Los Angeles-based, Latino-centric online community that fuses social networking with premium music and video content, introduced members to VOY Plaza Virtual--an immersive environment where they can create avatars, mingle and purchase gear from real brands like RocaWear and Kitson.
Advertisers including Chase, Nissan and AT&T have already purchased spots on VOYPlaza.com, but according to Fernando Espuelas, the company's chairman and CEO, its new features--including VOY Plaza Virtual, a host of embeddable video channels, a games portal and a news and blog portal--will create a distinctly unique opportunity to connect with the Latino consumer.
VOY Plaza's value proposition for users (and advertisers) in the increasingly crowded social networking space is simple. "It's not about building a network with the same functionality as MySpace or Facebook and making it a little bit Latin, or even coming up with an alternative," says Espuelas. "We're focused on being an innovator in the marketplace, because this is a technologically advanced consumer."
Indeed, research like the Conexion Cultural/Culturally Connected study by Yahoo and Telemundo in 2007 and AOL/Roper's 2005 US Hispanic Cyberstudy have shown that online Latino consumers have embraced digital music and entertainment platforms and features -- often more rapidly and with greater frequency than the general online population.
Espuelas says that VOY Plaza kept these factors in mind when developing the new features, and ensured that each tool offered users the option to communicate in English and Spanish.
For VOY Plaza Virtual, the company partnered with San Francisco-based Doppleganger and their vSide virtual platform, which lets users mingle, dance, stream music and videos, and participate in branded or sponsored events like the Latin Grammy after-parties.
As part of VOY Plaza's video offering, users can embed a media player in their profile and either play single clips or entire channels. The social network boasts multiple video channels (powered by Brightcove) that cover music and entertainment, sports, cooking, travel and urban-Latino culture. The social network also now offers a casual games portal, as well as the VOY Scout news and blog aggregation service, which crawls nearly 3 million news sources daily.
According to Espuelas, each new feature creates an opportunity to connect advertisers with VOY Plaza users, from standard display ads, to pre-rolls and game skins, to "specific content that can be created and tailored to their message." Espuelas added that VOY Plaza is also portable, as users can access the network through Verizon's VCAST Mobile TV service and IPTV services like as Joost and Vuze.