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Is Marketing in Second Life a Dud?

Posted by: Rob Hof on April 06, 2007

Wagner James Au offers up some interesting reasons why the increasingly popular virtual world Second Life isn’t yet proving a marketer’s paradise. As some commenters on his post note, this may be something of a rerun of the early days of Web advertising, when people weren’t sure what worked. (Not that they have it nailed yet, but at least they’ve found some things that work.) I do think he’s especially spot-on in pointing out that doing traditional marketing inside Second Life only exposes how empty that marketing often is. But I don’t doubt that if Second Life and other virtual worlds manage to sustain user interest—a big if—marketers will figure out how to approach people in the right way.

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Reader Comments

Small Guy PR

April 6, 2007 12:25 PM

Rob, I would tend to agree about the yet-unrealized value of marketing in Second Life right now (in fact I blogged about that fact a few weeks back - but from talking to companies who are active in Second Life right now it seems marketing is a secondary objective. Large companies are more focused on using it as a venue for employees to collaborate and innovate, while other companies are looking at it as a longer-term investment, where they can stake their foot in the ground now in the expectation that years from now this investment will pay off as the community matures.


April 6, 2007 02:56 PM

I’m still confused as to why SL gets as much glowing press as it does. It’s like we learned nothing from the late '90s… Why isn’t anyone taking a harder look at their stats, and god forbid, the demo information of the user that actually forms this community? Someone needs to stand up and say: “Second Life isn’t wearing any clothes.” They have a community of roughly 300,000 active users – total (most estimates state that roughly 10% of their 3 million sign-ups are active users). That’s it. They have been written about by virtually every publication worldwide, and only 300,000 people have found the offering compelling enough to continually interact with it. And this is just a guess, but I’m guessing those 300k are not the hip-alpha consumers that snapped up the first iPods. I just don’t get why everyone is still so consumed with this? 300k is certainly not a number to be completely overlooked, but it does not deserve this much attention or this preferential treatment… people need to move on. The beauty of other communities is that they facilitate interactions, and make connecting with others easier. Second Life makes it more cumbersome. In its current state we will not be talking about it in 6 months…

Devon Dudgeon

April 12, 2007 01:24 PM

Second Life isn't proving to be a marketer's paradise, because the numbers just aren't there. By that I mean the ROI. The BBC spent over £100k to produce a concert event attended by 6,000 Second Lifers... and even at that SL could only handle 60-100 attendees at any given time. The MLB event had only 50 avatars in attendance - that's one big empty ballpark.

The rush to enter SL lasted only as long as the PR buzz because the PR value of getting mentioned in publications such as Business Week, The Guardian, The Economist, etc. tipped the scales in terms of ROI. For more info:

Tracy-Lee Engel

May 31, 2007 07:21 PM

I have read all the comments on second life and though I hear the arguments of the financial aspect I still cannot feel that it is an exciting opportunity. I am an MBA student so please bear with me as I explore this-though is second life not a great place for retailers to not only advertise products to consumers but also gain their input-advertising there is obvious byt what about using it as a platform to gain the user innovation that gives rise to some of the most interesting innovation. they are able to try out a product, test it, play with it and better yet give feedback to retailers on how it is perceived. It is said that one of the product features that needs to be had to ensure maximum adoption is trialability-second could offer this without limitations of geography, of heavy ad campaigns, of having many physical products and even the need to get consumers to not only try out the product but give feedback on it-many on second life are early adopters simply by being there and engaging as much to create-would they not be the best target to open up your products to be played with? if open sourcing is the way forward, is this not a great tool to be used? I am really interested in any comments on this as I am really eager to learn about innovation and open sourcing-it is so exciting and though I know I have much to learn-feel it is possible to be utilised more effectively in reality.

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