Saturday, June 09, 2007

Second Life (Again)

Joel Cere at MarketingProfs recently took a "second look at Second Life," and commented on the buzz about the virtual world and the ongoing question: is there really anything there for marketers?

But how long will the Second-Life media frenzy last? And if not for PR, what is the value of investing time and money with avatars when marketing budgets are under renewed pressure to deliver real returns from real consumers?

While a reality check is overdue, I would argue that there is more than meets the eye in SL, and there is genuine value to be extracted for brands that are willing to learn the dynamics of the "metaverse" and play by its rules.

His conclusion: there is something there, but if you approach it like an ad platform, or think that just showing up makes you cool, you're wrong. Second Life users are there to create things and interact with each other, and your activities there (if any) need to fit that model:

Stepping in Second Life is not about PR or showering avatars with ads. It provides an opportunity to understand the mindset of today's connected consumers, turning your investment in Second Life into a real competitive advantage in First Life—and delivering real dollar returns on your marketing investment.

I'm a Second Life skeptic, and continue to be, but that is different than being a virtual reality skeptic. Second Life is an interesting concept implemented in a way that's tremendously appealing to a select group of users, and utterly uninteresting to most people.

If your customers are in that first group, however, you should be paying attention to Second Life and experimenting with a Second Life presence. If not... you should still be watching.

Why? Because creating and interacting are things all people like to do (hello, YouTube?). The fact that Second Life isn't something that most people will ever want to use doesn't change that. Eventually, the concept behind Second Life will be implemented in other ways - some by Second Life's creators, some by others - in ways that will be appealing to more people.

And so Second Life is the experimental version. For a few marketers, it'll be an important place to have a presence. For most of us, it'll be something to watch and learn from.

1 comment:

Joël Céré said...

Thanks for commenting on my article. It will be interesting to watch how Home, the new virtual world from Sony will develop. My hunch is that it could reach a younger demographic than SL, while the latter could appeal more to Gen Xers.