The realities of virtual marketing

Terra Nova featured a Forbes article that highlights how some companies are grappling with the realities of marketing in Second Life, and asks if this is the start of a media backlash.

There’s a knee-jerk response on New World Notes, but I think its attacks on the reporter’s accuracy are petty. For instance, what’s so wrong with calling Second Life a “Web fantasy world”?

It’s obvious to me that effective marketing in SL isn’t going to be exactly the same as effective marketing in real life. But companies will adapt over time, like they adapted to the internet, TV and radio.

I’d like to know: who’s leading this experimentation and learning? Anyone care to enlighten?


4 thoughts on “The realities of virtual marketing”

  1. “what’s so wrong with calling Second Life a ‘Web fantasy world’?”

    Because it erroneously suggests SL is accessible via the web, thus implying that it’s easily reached by anyone with a browser, like a Flash game. Instead, it actually requires a separate client install and lengthy orientation/account creation process of several hours. Eliding that fact confuses how SL actually works– which in turn confuses how marketing may or may not work within it.

  2. Marketing in SL is a little bit ridiculous because most of what’s being sold is body parts, like hair and boobs and bodies and such; apart from that, the economy seems to be built on sex and casinos. I don’t really get the whole point of SL – it’s not a game, there’s no aim, and you get little groups of people chatting together who chat together in real life anyway, so what’s the point of having avatars, which require a whole bug-filled install to do? MSN will do just as well.

    Being a comms person, I know that Reuters has set up a bureau there, but they just have links to their RL website… nothing much happens in SL anyway; Suzanne Vega does a concert (just listen to a podcast la…)

    In as much as I am dissing SL, I really, really want to like it; it’s a new concept, and I think it’s amazing how they’ve gotten the entire thing working, but still, there’s something missing…

  3. See: “The Web”, circa 1999.
    See: “Television”, circa 1959.

    Until someone figured out commercials, Television seemed pretty useless… how were you supposed to make money on it?

    The answer was, for the most part you didn’t… you provided content that people wanted to come see, and when you had enough eyeballs, selling ads became vastly profitable.

    When the Web came along, though, people just looked at it and said, “Well, we can’t do it the same we we do TV, so what good is it?”

    You’re not going to get the same TV-ad-sales paradigm in SL, either, but you’ll get something new. It’s all at that amorphous formational stage right now. Which means that some folks will diss it for being lame… and some folks will make a whole lot of money by seeing the potential and running with it.

    Will everyone make money? Of course not. There will be Googles, and there will be Worldcoms.

    I’m doing some work with a company called Centric… more discussion along this line is over at their blog,

  4. Calling Second Life a “Web fantasy world” is enough for me to skip an article about Second Life. So, from the point of view of a journalist that wants me reading his articles, this is wrong.

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