Traffic review of the year

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Just before Christmas I like to take a look at website traffic and other figures for the year and compare them with previous periods.

This year, for the first time in the site's history, page views have dropped, as has the number of visitors. However our Alexa rank has improved and revenue from adverts and affiliate referrals is up a couple of percent.

The headlines are:

  • Page views down by 8.6%, visits down by 4.7%, visitors down by 2.1%
  • Alexa rank 15,075, up from 18,453 at the end of 2016
  • Quantcast US rank 9,136, down from 7,180 at the end of 2016
  • 26,901 new members joined in 2017, about the same as in 2016
  • 60,509 members logged in during 2017
  • Social media followers up by over 50%


Website traffic

Here's how this year compares with the previous six:

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Page views 92,611,909 101,385,839 94,879,418 85,658,634 78,595,421 58,871,313 49,404,168
Visits 25,174,751 26,414,965 24,309,642 20,761,051 19,810,668 15,656,887 11,408,177
Visitors 7,268,174 7,431,089 7,242,884 6,624,114 6,187,944 4,980,424 3,895,394

The graph shows clearly that page views are down to closer to 2015 levels:

The following chart shows the most visited LEGO-related sites on the Internet, as ranked by Alexa. It's currently showing that, as was the case last year, Brickset is the third most visited LEGO-related site. LEGO.com is ranked ~2,300, BrickLink ~14,000 and Brickset ~15,100. All other LEGO sites are an order of magnitude further down the table. You can click to enlarge it.


Countries and technologies

Here's where our visitors come from, much the same percentages as last year:

Country Visits % of total
United States 8173108 32.47%
United Kingdom 3787339 15.04%
Canada 1333667 5.30%
Germany 1232997 4.90%
Australia 1004153 3.99%
Netherlands 871932 3.46%
France 691132 2.75%
Italy 626027 2.49%
Poland 560229 2.23%
Hong Kong 362996 1.44%
Denmark 355351 1.41%
Spain 341683 1.36%
Belgium 319180 1.27%
Sweden 311724 1.24%
Hungary 297951 1.18%
Singapore 294246 1.17%
China 255835 1.02%
Taiwan 248462 0.99%
Russia 226715 0.90%

Desktop users account for 50%, tablets 13% and phones 37%, compared to 53%, 15% and 31% respectively last year. So, a lot of people are still switching from their tablets and PCs to their phones and I'm sure that trend will continue.

Windows remains the dominant operating system with 40% of visitors using it, but it continues to drop as users migrate to handheld devices. iOS comes in at 30%, followed by Android 20% and Mac 9%.

The most popular browser is Chrome with 45% of the share of traffic, followed by Safari, 30%, Firefox 9%, IE 5% and Edge 3%.


Social media and membership numbers

Our social media followers have increased this year: Facebook 29,300 likes (up from 22,000), Twitter 26,100 (up from 19,400) and Instagram 17,300 (up from 5,750)

On the website, member numbers are rising still, up from 152,000 to 175,000, an increase of 8%. That's an average of about 450 new members a week. The forum now has 19,500 members, 2,000 more than last year.


Traffic peaks

This graph shows the number of sessions per day during 2017. It's interesting to look back in the news archive to find out what caused the peaks.

  • 18 February: New York Toy Fair
  • 1 April: April Fools (Game of Thrones)
  • 22 June: Ninjago City revealed
  • 31 August: Millennium Falcon revealed
  • 29 November: Downtown Diner revealed

The largest peak occurred on 16th January, which doesn't coincide with any big news, Drilling down into the numbers in Google Analytics shows a huge surge in sessions between 15:00 and 16:00 GMT and a large increase in referrals from Reddit.


Conclusions

So, why the drop in traffic and should we be worried?

I believe there to be two reasons. The most likely one is the increased amount of advertising on the site. For many years we displayed no advertising at all: revenue from affiliate marketing, particularly Amazon and eBay was sufficient to keep us online. Unfortunately both of these major players adjust their payout structures periodically which always results in a drop in revenue so that is no longer the case. For example, the income from eBay this year will be just 25% of that earned in 2013. Advertising has filled this shortfall and enables us to continue to run and maintain the site at no charge to anyone.

I hate adverts as much as you do but do not feel bad about displaying them here because it's so easy to opt out of seeing them, unlike some LEGO news sites that have recently been rendered almost unusable due to the high number of adverts they now carry. Nobody is forced to endure them here -- they are shown only to users who are not logged in, i.e. casual users, and never to you, our loyal users, who are more likely to support the site by using our affiliate links.

The second reason? Perhaps it's the same one that caused LEGO's profits to drop this year: interest in the brand is waning a little. The LEGO Movie may well have been partly responsible for growth in the years after its release, but the same can't really be expected for this year's movies, which have hardly set the world alight or caused a surge of interest in the brand.

Despite the drop, Brickset is still the third most visited LEGO site with no real competitors and we will continue to enhance it and innovate to ensure it remains that way.

Thank you all for visiting and making Brickset the success it is. I hope we can continue to meet your LEGO-information needs and if you have any suggestions as to what you'd like us to do differently, we are always open to hearing them, either in the comments below or via the contact form at the bottom of the page.

Happy Holidays to you all!

 

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47 comments on this article

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By in Australia,

Interesting statistics. Happy holidays to the brickset team for their amazing work providing this great site for all of us Lego fans!! I would love to support Brickset but there doesn't seem to be an affiliate link for Australia?

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By in Germany,

I visit daily and am a pretty happy customer. I would really like to know if clicking on an affiliate link actually works, i.e. if the referal makes the site money. What I am really unhappy about is the huge video ads that come up on the site when I am not logged in (and I have to login anew daily due to cookie policy). They are a gigant pain, even more so on my mobile, which leads to me not visiting the site with my phone anymore.
I know I am probably part a tiny minority, but I would actually pay a subscription fee for the site.

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By in United Kingdom,

I think it's a simple case that we have hit peak Lego. Nothing to do with the great site which I think gets better every year.

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By in Canada,

I keep my Brickset page always open and look around numerous times a day. Maybe something like that is knocking the #s down. Just a thought

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By in France,

Users are also more likely to use social media making the "classic" website visits dropping a little, I think

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By in France,

Do page views include social media /Facebook views etc or just views on the website? If the latter then that could explain the drop as i use both but will not reread if ive seen it on the other.

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By in United Kingdom,

Interesting. A huge thank you to the Brickset team for keeping the site up to date. I am a daily visitor after only getting back into Lego last year and this site is by far the best on the internet for all my Lego needs...
Merry Christmas

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By in United Kingdom,

@SMC - 'peak LEGO' -- I think you're right. That's exactly what I was trying to express.

@jdm, views on the website, so if you click through on a Facebook post to read the article it counts.

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By in Australia,

Very well put together set of stats! From my point of view I'd like to see AU included in news, pricing info, sales etc. I feel very left out quite often, and we are ranked 5th overall.

Also, something that might be of use to you would be allowing known power users to give easy feedback on issues / problems with the site as they are encountered. I have often sent feedback about issues I have encountered, especially on mobile devices, but never hear back or see the issues resolved.

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By in Australia,

I agree with kcit, please include Australia in the pricing info. We’d all really appreciate it :)

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By in United Kingdom,

People have no real reason to visit the actual site, if they are able to gain a "snippet" of the news article titles from your Social Media Channels.

You social network followers are up 50% - so take that into consideration. And maybe re-think why people arent "following through", to read the main articles themselves. This site has a strong Bias towards Star Wars sets, and to "salesy" stuff. Why not try different, more interesting and engaging articles.

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By in United States,

As for your advertising revenue increasing, the number of ads on this site have also increased.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^^ & ^^^^ Unfortunately LEGO does not operate an affiliate scheme for Australia so we are unable to gather links, prices, products etc, automatically as we do for US/CA/UK/DR/FR.

^^ New and reviews are only a fraction of the content on the site, as you know. Unlike other sites that are entirely 'blogs', which I imagine do suffer a lot from that.

There's still plenty to visit the site for: our unique database, for a start...

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By in Indonesia,

Generally quality of content on Brickset is high imo. Though I still read many of the reviews I noticed myself switching more and more to video reviews by others cause it's so visual. Videos make it easier to make up your mind as opposed to forming an opinion based on someone else's views, no matter how well written.

Further, personally I'd like Brickset content to become a bit more varied. Keep the good stuff as it is and add, for example, more editorial stuff like Throwback Thursdays or something else in that vein. More in-depth stuff about what else is going on in the Lego fan community would also be interesting.

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By in United Kingdom,

With the exception of Modular Buildings designed by Jamie Berard and the newer style of Modulars, I'll happily not purchase any other LEGO products for the rest of the year and for the foreseeable future. In 2018 my focus as an AFOL will switch to at least 90% on MOC building and attending shows, LUG meetings etc. The remaining 10% will be on adding models and spectacle to my room environment such as the odd D2C, LEGO Ideas and other impulse products such as BrickHeadz and Minifigures.

This one resolution most AFOLs have every year but it ends up going south given the high number of fantastic and outstanding products they've been releasing in the past few years. I might suffer given have missed out on quite few products that are currently available and being a fan of several IPs that LEGO owns. Nevertheless I'm confident it's possible given this past year has been a good one as I've cut down a considerable amount of LEGO purchases, yet I reckon these purchases can be compressed down even further moving forward. In general my excitement and enthusiasm for the brand is definitely lowering each year, it's the same case for movies and other interests.

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By in United Kingdom,

I visit the site daily and would be happy to pay a subscription to help pay running costs. Maybe put together a basic subscription package with a few freebies, e.g. brickset minfig and t-shirt perhaps? Just an idea.

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By in United States,

I wonder if the increased social media views lowers your actual site views.

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By in United Kingdom,

Another year, another opportunity to say thanks Huw. I know this is a passion for you personally but still, you do a huge amount that brings benefit to so many of us. I lean on this place heavily in pursuit of my hobby.

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By in France,

Very interesting article and stats. No matter ads, I will keep coming on Brickset every day at least twice, as I do for a few months now, reading, learning, discovering, searching and checking my collection... Brickset icon is right next to [email protected] on my phone and I must admit that I come even more often than I do on French Lego specialized websites, which are quite good but in my opinion far as complete as Brickset is. Here I "cross" people (so ideas, points of view, interests and so on) from all over the world, and it's a real and even inestimable value. Building and collecting Lego as an adult is a niche passion, and it's somehow rare and hard to share it with people who will feel exactly like you when you talk about it. I find this on Brickset, and never read any indecent or rude words like I can see on YouTube comments for instance - which is important to me. Even if English language can be sometimes a bridle to my perfect comprehension, I cannot imagine a week without logging and coming to see what's going on in Lego's world.
So I 've already told this before, but sincere thanks again for all time, efforts, patience and I guess money you all Brickset team put in this website to bring us clear and objective news and reviews every day. Cheers from France. And keep up the good work.

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By in France,

have you published more or less articles than in previous years in terms of number of pages to view?

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By in United Kingdom,

@Batupintar, we like researching and writing editorial articles but they take a lot of time and effort and often our hard work is not reflected in readership numbers so while they are undoubtedly popular not everyone takes the time to read them which can be disheartening.

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By in United Kingdom,

Out of interest, with the acknowledgement of the increase in ads, has anything been done to review the speed of the site? Ads can have a noticable impact on the actual speed and perceived speed of the site. I'm also aware that at some point in the last couple of years Google has started to take site speed in to consideration in search rankings. I am unsure if this may have change yet again more recently. But positive speed improvements can never be a bad thing.

Another way of looking at it: with the slight drop in stats, can that be broken down in to a certain source: direct visits, referals, or search traffic? Is the drop in pages/visits/visitors common to all sources or more profound in, say search traffic verses direct visits?

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By in United Kingdom,

I continue to visit the site and the forum on most days, with monthly? or bimonthly affiliate visits to help support the Brickset site.
Thanks to Huw and the team for the great work you all do.
Merry Xmas or Happy Holidays to you all.

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By in Norway,

I can` t "live without" Brickset.com, looking for news, reviews and keep records of my own collection. I will gladly pay for it if it will be neccessary.

Thank you for your awesome work and a happy holiday to you all, both TeamBrickset and all of you other awesome people!

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By in United Kingdom,

I check the site every day, (one of only two that I visit daily) and am always pleased with the site. Whilst no website is going to please everybody or be perfect, Brickset always clicks with me (sorry). Thank you Team Brickset and keep up the good work.

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By in Australia,

Prepare to see a huge drop in USA visits with Net Neutrality laws changing over there.
When did you create your Instagram account? That's a pretty huge percentage increase.

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By in Australia,

Thank you Brickset for all the Lego news, set info and interesting articles. It is a shame Lego cares so little about us Australians, for I would definitely use the affiliate link.

More articles like "Throwback Thursday" and surprise ones like the history of the Lego sausage piece would be great, although I understand the time and effort needed to create them.

Thankfully logging in every time to avoid ads does not bother me too much, but I think potential members are turned off by this (partly due to not knowing that membership blocks ads and is free).

As a person who hates Star Wars, it does sometimes feel like there is a Star Wars bias (probably not statistically but it feels like its biased), which is where interesting, quick, articles on old sets, pieces and history of a lego theme or part is useful and breaks up the constant, boring Star Wars reviews and articles.
It also helps break up the news in general, particularity if there is a lot of focus on one specific theme at a time, such as Brickheadz.
(I'm not saying Star Wars is the only 'biased' theme, or to stop writing Star Wars stuff).

I think your ideas of why Brickset visits have dropped are good, I would also add that Lego is not making as interesting products/news anymore, so there is no need to read Brickset.
I will continue to read Brickset every morning (and never on a phone), but 2018 will see far less purchases and interest in Lego news then 2017, at least for me. (especially in regards to 2018 City so far..)

Merry Christmas Brickset!

(speaking of Christmas, one annoying problem that is out of your control is that when I open my City advent calendar on the 18th, I have to wait to the 19th to see a Brickset article on it, and 'new' articles about whats next in the advent calendar are spoiled since I already know whats inside [which is a shame since you put so much effort into not showing a picture of that day's advent build]).

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By in Australia,

^ Indeed, I too feel that I don't really require an ongoing interest in Lego to be motivated to visit Brickset every morning. This is by far the most convenient site for me when it comes to news and set info (except for Bricking Around where local news is concerned). I can't recall a time when I didn't care what was going on in the world of Lego.

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By in Netherlands,

I second the idea about the subscription. Services like Chargebee make setting up a recurring subscription a breeze. Servers aren't free and neither is your time. I'd be happy to chime in!

EDIT: Not affiliated in any way with Chargebee, just a happy user.

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By in United Kingdom,

Brickset is a fantastic site. It is the first thing I look at on my phone in the morning!. That said, the increasing advert banners, back drops and pop ups is increasingly irritating. I have noticed in particular then when I click to look at "All Amazon Deals", it often takes me to the website of whatever is being advertised in the banner - VERY frustrating!!
The website is informative, and inclusive. It is hard to keep pace when things are being "leaked" all over the shop, but it is always quick off the mark with the best images and information. I find the available discounts useful when buying as well.
So keep up the good work, but limit the adverts if possible.
As for Lego being peaked... I have always been a fairly "classic" buyer. I like Town, City, Creator more recently Friends, and to a lesser extent Star Wars. IMHO, Lego have spread themselves a bit thin lately. Concentrate on what you do best and don't chase the licences all the time.
Lego is and always will be what you make of it - Use you imagination and have fun!!

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By in Switzerland,

I really like your site and visit it frequently. Maybe you could make an app with connection to your huge database and news, this coupled with adds might generate additional income.

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By in United Kingdom,

There are several apps out there already from which we don't profit.

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By in Netherlands,

Did you guys ever consider setting up a translation of the site in Spanish? Or Mandarin?

It may be a crazy idea but the visitor representation from Spanish and Asian countries is very low... Maybe Lego is less popular there...

Just a thought...

Thanks for all the great work and happy holidays!

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By in United Kingdom,

Just a quick thanks and Happy Christmas to all those involved with the running of Brickset. I am a regular visitor and enjoy reading all of the articles published and the opinions of the different members of the team. I can appreciate all of the effort that goes into it so well done - the overall moving average is still positive and cannot be expected to go on increasing forever especially given rising prices and competition from computer games. Personally the reviews and photos are the highlights for me as I get to experience many different sets that I will never own at my own pace, often step by step and I find your opinions and reviews very useful when deciding what will be my next purchase. (The jury, however, is still out on Downtown Diner...)

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By in New Zealand,

What are the New Zealand visit statistics?

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By in Australia,

I haven't compiled my own stats just yet, but have noticed a similar trend with the traffic changing from previous years.

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By in United Kingdom,

It was a surprise to see we may have reached a peak when I've bought more Lego this year than ever before! I check the site every day to look for discounts and I really value articles and reviews for identifying interesting new parts

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By in United Kingdom,

I would like to say thank you to those who put in a lot of effort and time into running the site. It is easily not only one of the best Lego sites but one of the best hobby/special interest sites around generally.

I have no problem with adverts on pages it's an important revenue stream. I love how those who run ad block software and expect high quality content for free, when they want to cut off funding for that content. The only improvement I would make is to stop the video ads auto playing. If you are on mobile this uses up a lot of data and you can't do anything about it when you first click on the page. It's pretty much stopped me checking the site other than when I am sat down at my computer.

Keep up the good work and I look forward to another great year of Brickset in 2018.

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By in Germany,

I second the star wars issue. I used to read this page every day for the last couple of years, but this year it felt like brickheadz (I couldn't care less), or some generic star wars release/re-release of some walker/jedi/starship, or some exclusive minifig (I don't care either). I'm also not saying stop doing it, obviously this page caters what TLG is bringing to the table, but this year's been incredibly boring.
I like the jungle but having invested in mining, arctic and partially vulcano I am unwilling to buy in a new adventure topic the fourth year in a row.
The kids discovered chima, but that's gone. (real) knights, pirates anyone? some historic topic?

I'm not sure if peak Lego nails it, it's more like Lego forgetting what made them big. It's not elves and brickheadz.

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By in Australia,

Thank you to the team from Australia. It is a pity that Lego do not have an affiliate in Australia so that we down under could support your site more.
I suspect Lego is plateauing at the moment - but still holding its own. I would also like to say as a person who is very much into Star Wars, that I do appreciate the articles on SW sets :)

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By in Belgium,

^^ Indeed, it's more likely to be Star Wars and Friends. They're pumping those out still, so no issue there... or what were you trying to say? :)

^^^ If you log in, there's no ads at all, so that issue is fairly quickly solved... especially as you have an account or you wouldn't be able to comment here...

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By in United States,

Since you started putting up posts on Instagram, or I just noticed it, I have visited the site less.

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By in United States,

I really enjoy Brickset, its an amazing one of a kind place on the WWW. Running a 18,000+ member AFOL Facebook community I see your website link constantly shared and have even done the same because it is such a useful resource that I think helps people. I hope to see Brickset continue to grow, publish the amazing articles and reviews and link up great deals on Lego for the years to come. Thank you for all you guys & gals do with this web resource!

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks for your comments everyone!

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By in United Kingdom,

The "first time" user experience on this site is shocking

1) Too many adverts that just clutters the screen (especially on mobile). Which puts off users. Maybe Huw can look at the "first time user bounce rate"
2) Not totally obvious on how/why/where to sign up
3) Not totally obvious on the benefits of signing up (to remove the ads)
4) Over focus on AFOL material
5) Too much focus on Star Wars
6) Words like Databases, CSV, RSS, API, Webstats and lists are just dull, and geeky :-)
7) Reading stuff is boring, whereas a video conveys a lot more personality and keeps up user retention.

Over to you Huw :-)

Looking forward to 2018!

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By in United States,

I know I frequent the site a LOT less then I did a couple years ago. For the most part, it doesn't have anything to do with Brickset though. My own personal interest in the Brand has faded quite a bit, due mostly to dissatisfaction with the direction they have taken product assortment and pricing over the past few years.

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By in Australia,

@brickingit

Firstly, reading is not boring. Videos take time and this is not Jangbricks, its a internet news site and forum. Whether you like reading or not is an opinion, not a flaw of the site.

I don't see any focus on AFOL material. Most people on this site are AFOLs or interested in AFOL related topics. I also don't even know what AFOL material is supposed to mean, large scale builds?

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