Monday, March 19, 2007

DISCUSSION: SECOND LIFE? OR GET A LIFE?



Some of the world's top agencies (including BBH - their office is pictured) and marketers (Australia's Telstra is in there) are setting up shop on Second Life, the virtual world on the web that has nearly five million punters signed up and living another life in Cyberspace. Small shops have sprung up to help real-world companies plant flags in the virtual world. Among them is Infinite Vision Media, an eight-person shop that worked with Lichtenstein Creative Media to build Dell Island.
Infinite got the job through a blog post that outlined how companies like Dell could add to the Second Life community.
The Electric Sheep Company, which recently assisted U.S. ad agency GSD&M in setting up shop, has grown to 30 employees since its founding in 2005. Other new players are Rivers Run Red and Millions of Us.

Is advertising in Second Life:
a) the future of marketing?
b) a brave experiment?
c) a complete waste of time?

Also, what can individuals gain/lose from taking part in Second Life?
What are the pros and cons for creatives being involved?


Never heard of it? Check out
  • Second Life
  • . (Say hello to BOWEY LOWEY, he's Lynchy on Second Life, but don't expect an answer immediately, as first life is hectic this month).

    10 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Maybe if the industry goes the way it's going, Second Life may be the only future for some. What about all the former top agency creatives, particularly those over 50, now floating around freelancing?

    8:40 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Second Life is a very real phenomenon but it's also 3 years old and it took that amount of time to build the parts that are good about it.

    Most of the corporates who jumped on board last year are finding it very tough to connect with the residents because they don't really understand what lured them there in the first place. For that reason most of the corporate buildings (including BBH's I might add) are always empty - completely deserted.

    To date the only people who have successful turned Second Life into business are the residents themselves and companies like Millions of Us, Rivers Run Red etc who have been reaping the benefits of corporate naivite for the last year and a bit.

    9:13 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I think people go to Second Life to escape commercialism, so any efforts to reach these people will have to amuse and entertain them, rather than use methods employed by most marketers in the real world.

    12:18 PM  
    Blogger Nic Hodges said...

    Is advertising in Second Life the future of marketing?
    No. Advertising in SL will exist as long as SL does, but it will never be 'the future of marketing'. Whether it grows to MySpace popularity or continues in it's current demographic, there will always be ads. The difference between SL and more 'regular' online advertising channels is that SL presents opportunities for people outside the publisher. It's possible to erect a billboard on your patch of land and charge for advertisers to display on it.
    So given this scenario, all we've really done is recreated the current outdoor opportunities that exist in real life for a relatively small and very defined audience. If technology could be introduced to track trends and gather data on individuals within SL, and then serve them up tailored ads, maybe then you'd be going beyond replicating the real world, but only just. Second Life is a place for people tech savvy enough to think MySpace is lame but not geek enough to be playing MMO's, it's not a place to find the future direction of marketing.

    Is advertising in Second Life a brave experiment?
    Advertising in SL is braver than just creating some banner ads, but it's still miles behind formulating a blog-driven astro-turfing user generated site/abomination (all i want for xmas is a psp, the zero movement etc.). No one is going to build a lot of brand loyalty by looking at the SL ad market in the same way they look at any other ad market. The opportunities that SL (and other MMO communities like Kaneva or PS3 Home) present are more about hype and grass-roots product/brand support. It's a great environment to launch a new product concept to a select group of users, and is a hell of a lot cheaper than doing it in real life. The concept of invite-eliteness is at it's greatest in the SL demographic, and the amount of positive blog buzz you can generate with very little cost in this arena is where the potential really lies.

    Is advertising in Second Life a complete waste of time?
    Devoting too much time to thinking about how you're going to make SL the next great media outlet, and how you can best leverage the opportunities it presents, is a complete waste of time. It shouldn't be ignored, that's for sure, but it's not worthy of entire media plans. Just keep dropping Second Life into client meetings and they'll remain impressed, that's all that's really necessary for now.

    3:04 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    " The difference between SL and more 'regular' online advertising channels is that SL presents opportunities for people outside the publisher. It's possible to erect a billboard on your patch of land and charge for advertisers to display on it."

    This isn't the point at all Nic.

    The promise of Second Life is that you could potentially create meaningful and fun interactions for your brand with a wide audience - beyond erecting a disruptive billboard. It is a participatory culture that has a much older average age (35) and correspondingly a much higher average income than something like MySpace.

    Now just to clarify this isn't to say that I think that most companies should launch in Second Life. Just the opposite, I think that if companies don't want to contribute something that doesn't deliver value in terms of engaging and enriching the experience of Second Life residents then they shouldn't bother.

    4:28 PM  
    Blogger jj said...

    To look at the bigger picture:

    It's funny, virtual worlds such as SL pretty much have the same human aspects to them as the "real world" does - such things as sex, money, real estate, advertising, even terrorism is starting to appear there.

    They are built and inhabitied by humans communicating with each other after all. Is it really so different to the "outside" world. I must admit, being able to teleport is a decent bonus we don't get out here, yet.

    We can talk about the demographics and whether or not it's worthwhile or a waste of time, but because it involves humans communicating with each other in a capitalist environment, it's inevitable that marketing is going to be involved, don't you think?

    BTW: Isn't Joseph Jaffe http://www.jaffejuice.com/ (author of LIfe after the 30 Second Spot) coming to Oz to talk soon? He's huge on SL. I think his agency Crayon was one of the first there (that's Crayonville in SL). I'm sure he'd be more than happy to discuss this while he's here.

    5:46 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hey maybe we can all have our rates virtually screwed down like we do in real life. let pretend there is virtually no money to make a production.

    bring it on!

    9:54 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Mark my words, in 5 - 10 years most of the internet will operate in a 3D "virtual" platform. It's a natural evolution from both a design and behavourial platform. Think about, you'll be browsing the shelves in the Amazon book store and see the dude next to you browzing and you can share information and network etc with people who share interests. These "audiences" can be targeted with relevant information and it's all really very exciting! Let's just hope the wealth is shared and it's all owned and controlled by Murdoch.

    6:53 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Probably the majority of ads which seem to win at award shows will stand more chance of running in a virtual world than they ever did in reality.

    11:25 AM  
    Anonymous Chris Simon in Malaysia said...

    The future of marketing?

    No. Already rich historical past. Interactive marketing started with simulated reality CD-ROM models like the Electronic Arts’ franchise Sim City and a host of strategy-fantasy games. Developers of 3-D environments, interactive experience and virtual worlds were inventing this stuff! They did brilliant work for the world’s defence forces. Simulations like training pilots and the army and navy. Retail with virtual shopping malls. Architecture-CAD type authoring and engineering-diagrams. These guys were more like scientists with degrees in Physics, rather than film animators, writers, artists, video makers, screen writers, musicians. But the magic equation of art and science has always been integral for interactive, engagement and social marketing. However, I personally always found the tools that drove the 3-D rendering to have a ‘sameness’ in the buildings, fashion, humanoids. And I find that a little in Second Life. Because it comes from old world internet chat room and MUD cultures and that kind of CAD architectural style-the ‘sameness’ seems to remain-no matter how clever a user or their helper/s become in ‘creating’ their Avatar or its ‘scape’ or other scenarios. I also feel, respectfully, that SL could be called Second Chance, with its rich heritage for building virtual brands and entertainments. So I think populating the inworld with lots more residents-say millions-would be brilliant. It would enable Linden Lab, Philip Rosedale, their backers and significant new marketing to invest in enhancing the tools and building new user-creative teams. The potential to make the rendering tools more variable and changeable, and the direction its going could certainly provide virtual economies and real networks within virtual networks that might become a very exciting new sub set of marketing and entertainment. However, I believe the flexibility, scalability and customisation of metaverse engines will always be challenged-particularly financially. Having content IP is not unique.You own your own content on You Tube and many other channels. I’d also like to know how easy my content would be to export to other metaverse platforms or any platform? Plus-do you always want all your data-including search-served up as a 3-D virtual world communicated by Avatars? For me-it’s like having a holiday-I would not necessarily like to be there all the time. But I might come back enlightened and able to do real good in the outworld…..

    A brave experiment?

    Always! And this type of bravery does not need giant budgets. You could throw millions at creating your own Second Life Corporation or Ad Network, or think very carefully about how to experiment. I would not want to look the same as all the other residents and not even necessarily in humanoid form. I’d like to modify myself every time I appeared. I’d like to modify txt-plans-designs-ideas-movies in ‘real virtual time’ if I opened up SL shop…So I could demonstrate my creative to my clients on the in and outworlds on the fly! I would create an Avatar impression of myself that was an extension of my IM and MMS personality. I’d recommend to my clients that they could not defy any genre classification by creating a SL, but that if we mastered a form of gameplay with our products and services, we’d likely attract a lot of inworld residents and outworld attention. Even better-if we revisited some of the beautiful strategy games like Age of Empires and hundreds more and crossed that with the most popular old world txt internet chat rooms and then crossed that with our business strategy and today’s IM and MMS, I think we would then be approaching differentiation. I’d try to research the seemingly high population of female target audience to get their POV on everything to do with virtual worlds and get a lot of them in teams to recruit new residents and create new interactive experiences, entertainments and education. I think this market has always known fantasy, mystery and real sex-sensuality better than men! I’d invest in the inworld businesses already doing well and get the property developers-designers to become more multicultural and original and hold new design competitions; same with fashion and the Avatar choice. This could create inworld trends. I reckon mirror-celebrity outworlders might work occasionally for big stadium concerts of a different kind. Perhaps aero-dynamically. A flying concert in the sky-with sound simulcast across outworld mobile phones. Better reality TV! Avatar Idol or The Avatar X Factor! Avatar Cartoons. Avatar Movies. Avatar Commercials. Avatar Awards. Avatar Bands. Avatar DJs. Avatar Internet. Lastly, I’d recommend some of the gritty ‘true romance’ and reality of the You Tubes, My Spaces, Wotnext’s, FlickR’s, Bebo’s, Meebo’s, Mobio’s and Joost’s. The only way I can explain that last one is rather than sitting comfortably and listening to Suzanne Vega perform as her Avatar-I’d like to see the Kaiser Chiefs inworld crashing one night! But not as Avatars!

    A complete waste of time?

    NEVER EVER! There’s a lot to be said in ‘the authority’ and ‘heritage’ of Vega performing there. It says a lot for political statement-education-intelligence-fund raising-charities. I reckon you could do a lot for Global Warming there. I’d definitely like to plant my trees there and render 3-D carbon capture ideas. We made extensive outworld 3-D metaverse Global Warming strategies, scripts and creatives, but to make them work properly in SL would require an extremely big effort and budget and the timing, as in now, is crucial. We’ve taken advantage of inworld carbon neutrality-demonstrated dioxide devestation-then instantly removed it. Just to make an action statement! I think being able to enhance the tools so a real hybrid mix of virtual reality and user generated content emerges could be amazing. And if SL is so hung up on being like First or Now Life….All residents need mobiles! Companies and individuals have nothing major to lose from taking part in SL by planting seeds there. But they and all their staff have to go in and water the plants to make them grow!

    I think there are only pros for good visionary and innovative creatives being involved, who perhaps have done a lot with virtual narrative or games and have never given up on studying digital user behaviour. Plus some who might have only grown up on Flash, Broadband, 3G developments and newer 2.0 cultures to tackle some of the old tools and game cultures with a level of technical irreverence! But also work respectfully with the master 3D craftsmen animators and odd ad writer-art director. I’d have architects on my team too and some fashion and jewelery designers. I think hybrid mixes of out and inworld can be very interesting, but not just replication or repurposing. So not just billboards and brands appearing-like some in-game or in-movie ads. Different spaces-different shapes-colours-experientials. Roving Avatar’s performing, selling, doing the odd inworld conference, networking or presentation. Virtual story-lines. Films within films. Games within games, FAR MORE! New global advertising networks not calling themselves advertising networks. Teleporting briefs between worlds and learning from outworld mistakes. Testing new inworld concepts on the outworld. A lot of well chosen residents on its Board and handpicked creative teams that only included some of what the Rivers Run Red; Electric Sheep; IVM’s currently have. The world’s most hybrid team, including some of the old master freelancers one of your users’ suggested were hanging out in Australia! The team age range would start at 18 and never end! If some of the older members of the team could prove it wasn’t when they were born, but what they had learnt since-then they’d be in it. If they only ever wanted to attend meetings or presentations as their Avatar-up to them! It would only stand for innovation and originality. But it would respect, learn from and be equal with all those aforementioned teams-young and old-all races. It would embrace the virtual currency and merge the real and virtual world. It would research the current SL population more efficiently. If there’s really 20-30k interacting or engaging at any given moment in any given place-LIVE-that’s quite effective for parallel world test marketing! I’d love some of the masters in SL’s virtual development to accept change themselves and get their 3-D modelling tools doing something different across virtual acreage and new architecture-fashion-apparel-gadgets-audio and seeing how it could mix with outworld ‘human’ visitors and some of the chit chat-pix-hip hop mobile cultures. Lastly-I’d like Google and Yahoo to give me their search engines to experiment with! The last line’s a joke. That would not be Second Life, it would be Perfect World.

    Thanks Campsign Brief for this interesting debate and stimulating stuff from your users that motivated me to contribute…..

    10:01 PM  

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