Why Etsy.com Is Crowdfunded Gamification
When I saw the staggering difference between Etsy.com's pagespread (pages in Google) vs. Red Envelope, one of my favorite gift sites from back in the day, something very DIFFERENT was going on.
Etsy.com 19,000,000 pages in Google.
RedEnvelope 31,000 pages in Google.
At first I thought the power of Etsty.com was in its User Generated Platform approach. Some of the power is in the framework, but another key driver is the soft gamification they employ to focus spotlights on some artists and product categories.
Etsy.com requires email marketing since 19,000,000 pages means finding anything without curation is nearly impossible. Instead of straight curation based on a known competitive rule set Etsy.com gamifies much like a Vegas slot machine.
Vegas slot machines use serendipitous condition. We pattern creating humans believe we create a pattern when we pull the single arm of these "bandits", but there is not Stimulus-Reward response.
Randomizing "winning" means addiction is easy, quick and complete. Etsy.com randomizes their curation so each artist is sure their moment in the sun is around the next corner. One more pull of the single arm will surely produce a winning response.
The risk of this gamification is the algorithm doesn't find content fast enough to put off an artist's desire to stop game play. The good news is Etsy.com's engine is the ONLY reinforcement.
When an artist creates an Etsy.com site they drive social traffic to it and some of that traffic, since it is highly segmented and qualified, will convert creating the first round of reinforcement with no cost to Etsy.com other than the quickly depreciating community code.
The gap between initial acceptance, use of an artist's social net to create their first conversions and the point when an artist stops game play is when Etsy.com's algorithm must rescue the content. With so much game play (19M pages), Etsy.com knows an artist's lifecycle probably within minutes of the change from phase to phase.
So YES Etsy is gamified crowdfunding since the platform makes a tremendous return on the first conversions, those that come from the artist's push to their social net, and cost of new artist acquisition is reduced by scale and existing artist advocacy (something that is also mathematically predictable).