Eons Deconstructed

Note to readers: this is a very long post because I find Eons to be an interesting site and worthy of a somewhat detailed deconstruction. Eons are part of a new wave of social networks targeting niche audiences. This one is targeting boomers and seniors.

Eons (http://www.eons.com/) launched this week. Eons was founded by Monster.com entrepreneur Jeff Taylor with a reported $10m war chest. It’s easy to see where the money was spent and there is a lot there. So much so that TechCrunch, who reviewed the site yesterday, noted “Eons is trying to do way too much and I’m at a loss as to what it actually wants to be.” Eons was also reviewed in Mashable and has also received mainstream press. The site was having some trouble when I used it and I got a few “Rails” errors. These probably were the result of the significant traffic from all of their PR as well as being “Dugg”.

Not being on the receiving end of an Eons PR package promoting the site, I’m not sure how hard they were pitching the “MySpace for old people” concept but it is certainly the parallel everyone is drawing. As Mashable noted, the comparison to MySpace isn’t all that accurate given the immense amount of producer-provided content (as opposed to user-provided content) making them more of a “portal”. Think of it as a “Yahoo” for the 50+ crowd more than an age targeted MySpace. There is also a question of how much the 50+ crowd even wants social networking activities such as building profiles, blogging, etc. Since the founder is from another tech company not to mention below the target age, it’s possible that Eons has put too much stake in treating the over 50 crowd as if they were the under 35 crowd and thus providing tools that may be of no interest to them.

Eons has several nice touches showing that a lot thought went into even basic tasks. For example, when you register Eons asks you the basic questions one gets when registering including your zip code, age, etc. But as you key in the information it gives you immediate feedback on how your information compares with other Eons who have registered. For example, when I typed in my zip code I learned that 21% of Eon’s users are “nearby” (though this is left undefined) and 1% are my same age. This makes the normally dry process of registration a little bit more interesting. (By the way, I’m not so sure about the age data they report. I tried keying in several different ages from 30 to 90 and they all reported to be 1% of their users). When I put my real age (which is under 50) I was bounced because users have to be 50. This was easily rectified by keying in a new birthdate making me over 50 but the ease by which I did this (and their essentially forcing me to lie to use the site) raises questions about the accuracy of their demographic profiles.

Building a profile, uploading a picture and other minor housekeeping tasks were all easy to do.

Once registered I started to play with the site.

First off, in addressing the “chicken vs. egg” that all true social networks face, Eons has done something I like very much. Namely to add useful applications and utilities so that even prior to the network effect kicking in individuals will will find useful things to do.

The first such utility is the “longevity calculator“. This is similar to the Real Age calculator but instead of giving you your “real” age (as opposed to calendar age) the Eons test calculates your expected longevity (mine was 88 though I had hoped it would be in the 90s).

The next utility is their Obituary Alert. This was one of the most written about parts of their site in their launch press. With this utility you can create up to five alerts (think of them as Google News alerts) that let you know if someone’s name, school or other trigger comes across in the obituaries. Kind of creepy but cool. I once read that the obits are one of the most read sections of the newspaper so Eons may be on to something. The publicity Eons is getting from just this one utility has probably paid for the cost of making it.

Speaking of obituaries, they have an entire obits section with pictures and tributes to deceased famous people sorted in various ways (by name, year, and most popular). It was here that I found a tribute to Billy Barty. Other obits items included humor (I’m not kidding), a “loss and grieving” advice section, and a section for sending sympathy gifts, no doubt through affiliate “arrangements” (pun intended).

Another utility is the “LifeMap” which plays on the (probably true) stereotype that the 50+ crowd loves to sit around and reminiscence. The LifeMap uses a time-line and icons to represent major milestones in one’s life. Here is an example of one that Eons created for former President Bill Clinton. The LifeMap utility has a very nice series of prompts and it looks easy to build. However I was unable to tell what one did with their LifeMap when it was done. Presumably it can be accessed by friends and others that you allow to see it from your profile but I didn’t see this option in the profile builder. Also, it’d be nice if there was a way to export it. I can imagine someone putting a lot of time building their LifeMap (including uploading photos) and then wanting to print it out in some fashion or have it be able to be shared through a method other than just through Eons. What happens if Eons goes out of business or decides to start charging for LifeMaps? Similar to the debate over at Flickr, users should own their content and be able to easily take it with them where they want.

Yet another utility is a goal generator/tracker. I builds off of the belief that one should make a list of all of the things they want to do before they die–a popular topic with self-improvement authors and life coaches. Instead of saying “die” however Eons sets the deadline as before you are 100 years old. Like the applications above, Eons has made the process easy with simple instructions and interfaces. The basic process is that you key in whatever goal you want and Eons looks in a database to see if others have the same goal. If not it offers up goals that might be similar (for example “sail around the world” and “sail a boat around the globe”). You match up the ones that make sense or otherwise signify your goals as unique. If you are stumped and can’t think of very many goals you can see what others have put on their lists. The most popular is “lose weight”. By clicking on that I can see the names of some of the people who have this goal (which is a little odd). Presumably this is useful with a goal such as “run a marathon” since I can communicate and maybe even train with people with the same goal. Goals can be made private or public and are accessible from your profile (note this was either not working or not working well when I tested it). There is a lot more that they can do with this area and presumably ran out of time before launching.

One of the most interesting parts of the site is an age-relevant search engine, which they call “cranky.” If you type in a basic word like “book” or “triathlon”, the results are sorted by what has/has not been reviewed by users or editors (which presumably is what they use to determine relevance). “Triathlon” served up Triathlete Magazine, relevant yes but hardly age-relevant. I’ll have to spend more time on this but to me it appears that they are going to use the community to “teach” the engine what is and is not relevant. For example, when I typed in “senior” to cranky I got AARP (very relevant) and not “high school seniors” (not relevant).

In addition to the above mentioned applications/utilities, Eons has sections entitled “Fun,” “Love”, “Money” and “Body.” They contain some combination of articles, tips, blogs, pictures and affiliate deals–lot’s of affiliate deals. For example in “fun” they have a movie section that lists movies in theatres via online ticketing agent Movies.com. The entertainment section contains a nice mix of current and nostaligic offerings–something that is quite appropriate for their target market who is probably more interested in music and TV shows of 30 years ago than what is out today. The games are also demographic appropriate (Suduko, solitaire, etc.).

Eons also has a blogging capability. It is a very clean and easy process. However, like other sites that have targeted the older-than-the-MySpace crowd (such as ThirdAge), it is uncertain whether this age group really wants to blog and it will be interesting to see what adoption rate they experience.

Eons has “groups” functionality and already had several age-relevant groups started like antiques, knitting and golf. (No group for “puttering around in the basement” however). I tried setting up a group and it was a very easy process until the site locked up I got an error message. Not sure if my group made it or not. Presumably this bug is related to the server loads they are getting and will be rectified shortly.

Now that you see how much is there, it is easy to understand why Techcrunch had this to say in their review:

It’s too much to throw at people at once, and this age group is perfectly capable of using Yahoo for a portal, Vox for a blogging platform, etc. I would have started out with just the Myspace angle and added functionality from there as users grew, a model that has worked well for many other start-ups. Do one thing better than everyone else.

The Eons’ business model is focused on advertising with a lot of affiliate deals thrown for good measure (including Amazon books throughout the site and suggested sympathy gifts for the recently departed). Eons had one big banner ad centered on the home page and banners and smaller Google adSense ads on other pages. Certain sections are sponsored, for example the “Body” section is sponsored by a company called Humana.

In all it is a good site. But I there is too much there for most people and by spending as much as it appears they did they have set the bar very high for themselves to justify the expenses.

For the record, I’m a big believer that the over-40 crowd is under-served and believe there are a variety of opportunities to serve segments of this group in different ways. I am part of LifeTwo, a company that is focused on addressing the “life transition” years of 40-55 and particularly focused on midlife crises.

Update: The Rearview Mirror, a midlife-focused blog written by Micki Berthelot, had this to say.

We all agree that marketing to Boomers is a good and necessary thing. The Boomer demographic, particularly the female part, is generally ignored. Monster is making the attempt to attract the Boomer demographic with its new web presence – Eons. Eons is brand new and has a lot of evolving to do, but it is a shallow attempt at attracting advertising dollars. It is obvious that the only purpose of the site is to attract advertising dollars that the company isn’t attacting with other products. Boomers are too smart for that Monster – we see the obvious right away. The site is making an attempt to provide valuable content, but it is a substandard effort.

This tactic leaves the content weak and unattractive to me. … the “fun” page introduces a Brain Builder section designed to “stave off cognitive decline”. Oh yeah – just loads of fun. Thanks Eons – I really needed that. Sorry – but the whole concept is just boring and lame.

Follow this link for her entire review.



8 Responses to “Eons Deconstructed”

  1. Micki Says:

    Wesley – there are many reviews of Eons across the blogosphere, as you noted. This one is the most thorough I’ve read to date.

  2. wes2 Says:

    Thank you but yours stepped back from the technology to critique its approach. Kudos to you.

  3. Telecharger Says:

    Normally I do not learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that
    this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do it!
    Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, quite nice post.

  4. dining tables Says:

    Thanks designed for sharing such a pleasant opinion, paragraph
    is pleasant, thats why i have read it fully

  5. heating repair service Las Vegas NV Says:

    Revealed: Secret to Reducing Air Conditioning Costs

    Certain results indicate how each American household pay an estimate of $1000 for both heating and air conditioning systems every year.
    Indeed there are very good ways to cut down on these expenses without
    sacrificing the benefit of air conditioning during hot
    summer days in any way. The true secret to reducing Air Conditioning costs lies in your
    maintenance activities and making the right purchase of air conditioner units based
    on your needs.

    Currently, there are 3 common kinds of air conditioners, central,
    freestanding and window on the US market. Each kind has its own pros and cons.
    Before purchasing any air conditioners for your home, there is
    something that you need to understand. Not all the types of units on the market require the same kind
    of maintenance. 

    Think about the possible utility and maintenance costs when you purchase
    your unit. What is the cooling coverage that you truly need?
    It may seem easy to install a centralized system for your entire house.
    But the question is whether it is necessary. 

    Apart from the high expense of purchasing this system,
    there are the possible high costs of repair and maintenance.
    If you only want cool air in certain rooms because they
    are the hottest in your home during a hot summer season, then opt
    for the window or freestanding kind. The key difference between the
    freestanding type and the window type is in terms of mobility.
    You can move a freestanding air conditioner from one room to
    another easily enough. 

    Buying this type will be a great idea if you intend to rotate the usage of the unit in different rooms.
    But if your mind is fixed on having a few units in specific rooms, then the window type might be
    a good option. Since the window type would be up on the wall,
    it would not take up space in the room like how the freestanding type would.

    When it comes to the window type, you have the choice of selecting one that comes with or without duct. 

    Apart from being compact and small, the ductless kind is rather easy to install on any wall.
    Compared to the one that comes with a duct, it is also more
    energy saving. A good way to cool the temperature in the other rooms that have no air-conditioners is
    to use oscillating fans. Another smart way
    is to purchase a few 5 ton air conditioners to cover the
    space for your entire house instead of buying a centralized

    But this depends on how large your home is. Apart from the cost of
    purchase, there is the expense for maintenance.
    Normally, the cost of maintenance of a centralized air conditioning system is
    much higher compared to the freestanding or window
    types. To reduce maintenance costs, think about performing simple maintenance activities
    on your own.

    For example, you can take a look at the filter and change
    it if it requires changing. Normally, the frequency for changing or checking the
    filter will be mentioned in the air conditioner manufacturer’s manual.
    Some findings show that changing the filters can help in reducing monthly utility costs by 10 to 20%. 

    Though it is fine to carry out a simple maintenance task such
    as changing a filter, it is best to leave the more complex maintenance or repair tasks to Air Conditioning Experts.
    Now and then, call them up to check on the state of your
    air conditioner units and do what is necessary for their optimum working condition – an ounce
    of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  6. how to increase vertical Says:

    You really make it seem so easy together with your presentation but I to find this matter
    to be actually something which I believe I would never understand.
    It kind of feels too complicated and extremely large for me.
    I am having a look forward to your subsequent submit, I will attempt
    to get the grasp of it!

  7. Http://Foro.Ninja/ Says:

    You could birthday wishes also purchase the things the rest of it.

    Therefore you should consider. You can get the card when the music ends, you are right beside you.

    It is impossible as impossible comes, but live each day has in store for birthday-themed cut outs.
    Now they begin reading the invitations and/or announcements
    have been birthday wishes a hit with viewers, and it was
    because of the region to region as you can always go with tardiness and poor
    spelling / grammar.

  8. useful gadgets Says:

    useful gadgets

    Eons Deconstructed | Wesley Hein 2.0

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: