7 Point Plan for
A KZero Worldswide report
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 1
ompanies and brands around the globe are
C setting up presences and launching initiatives
inside virtual worlds and creating new innovative
ways of presenting their brands into influential
early adopter demographic groups and web-
However, what companies considering a
metaverse entrance should remember is that
brands have to be positioned not pushed into
The 7 Point Plan for marketing in virtual worlds
explains the key areas marketers need to consider
and address when developing a strategy to
deploy their brands, products and services into
the growing number of available platforms.
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 2
What is a virtual world? However, as the chart below left shows, other regions
and in particular Europe, have embraced Second Life.
The World Wide Web as we know it today consists of In late 2006, Second Life resident numbers broke
static 2D pages. You visit a website and read/watch through the 1m mark, helped by signiﬁcant media
the information or media presented on it. Virtual coverage. During 2007, resident numbers grew by 1m
worlds (metaverses) are diﬀerent. per month and now (Jul 2009) the total number of
They are digital 3D environments accessed in real- registered accounts is over 19m.
time that allow people to explore, examine and However, even greater growth has been observed in
interact with the objects created within the world and virtual worlds catered towards younger audiences.
importantly they allow people to interact together in a Stardoll for example, has over 34m accounts, Barbie
shared collaborative space regardless of their Girls over 10m and IMVU over 39m. Appendix one
geographical location. shows the KZero universe graph, an illustration of the
Second Life was the ﬁrst glimpse into the future of the size and range of virtual worlds available.
Internet, a future of ‘Places, not Pages’. However, other
Using Second Life as an example, as explained in the
virtual worlds such as There, Kaneva, Stardoll and
following sections, the unique characteristics of a
many others are now available for marketers in this
typical resident has expedited the take-up, and the
range of diﬀerent countries represented.
Why are virtual worlds growing?
Who is a typical resident?
The most popular commercial metaverse to date,
Second Life, is a global application, meaning that Second Life is not a gaming application. There are no
anyone can become a resident. Initially, North America scores, no ‘lives’ to protect, no objectives and no end-
drove take-up due largely to the fact that the result.
company behind Second Life, Linden Lab is based in
Comparison has been drawn to World of Warcraft, an
extremely popular MMOG (massive multiplayer online
Rest of World game) but the only real similarity is the fact that they
23% are both virtual worlds.
37% Importantly, whereas the average age of a Warcraft
player is 17, for Second Life, the average age is 32. It is
this fact which stimulated the interest in major brands
to consider entering Second Life. Below (next page) is
37% Canada the age range spread for residents.
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 3
The graph below shows the regional breakdown of
fashion-themed world Stardoll.
Rest of World
Also of note and further interest to brand owners is Europe
the fact that females account for 45% of users. A 43%
surprising, yet valuable piece of information. So, a Canada
combination of the average age and gender ratio has 4%
made brands realise that there are beneﬁts to be
reaped by developing metaverse marketing strategies. KZero has in-depth data and research available for a
wide selection of virtual worlds and is best-placed
Further analysis of the demographic proﬁle of to make media planning and virtual world selection
residents reveals that these people reside heavily decisions for marketers across the world.
within the Innovator and Early Adopter groups.
Point 1: Have a Plan
Pre-December 2006, Innovators were the main types
inside Second Life, but, as explained by the Rogers Putting Second Life (and all other virtual worlds)
Technology Adoption Curve, Innovators act as a into context, it’s just another marketing channel in
catalyst for Early Adopters. Whereas Innovators are the mix. And, just like every other channel,
very keen to trial new technologies, they have local consideration needs to be given when developing a
social networks. campaign or on-going presence.
The media landscape A dedicated marketing plan is required well before
development takes place in-world. The ﬁrst aspect of
Second Life aside, marketers now have a wide range the plan should be an assessment of your brand - its
of options available to them. And, importantly, values, positioning and the speciﬁc target markets it
traditional media planning techniques can now be addresses.
used to select the most appropriate virtual world for This is necessary to start to understand how the brand
the marketing objectives. can be leveraged in a virtual world. Taking this
Diﬀerent worlds have widely diﬀerent resident bases thought further, the easiest (and most appropriate)
from a geographical perspective as well as diﬀerent place to start is to think about why the brand exists in
age ranges - as demonstrated by appendix one. the real world - what service does it provide?, how
does it diﬀerentiate itself from the competition?
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 4
From here, on the basis that marketing activity will be But what about the overall design? Well, of course, it’s
presented in an immersive environment, you should easy to create a 200 story building in Second Life. But
explore how these attributes can be deployed and just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
then expanded upon in a platform which brings
customers and prospects much closer to a brand than When considering how a venue will be created, the
other media channels. most important aspect is the user-experience - will a
visitor understand how to move around and get to the
Next up - phasing and timing needs to be carefully information or experience you want to promote? Are
considered. Virtual world campaigns typically take areas clearly sign-posted? Is interaction made as easy
months, not weeks to create. From an internal as possible?
management perspective, although virtual world
operators will provide account managers, it is wise to Just as website creation is based around ease of
allocate marketing resource to the project to ensure information assimilation and navigation, virtual world
deliverables. design should follow similar methodologies, a virtual
site-map if you will.
Point 2: Design is an Output, Not an Most companies set the teleport point (the place that
Input visitors are ﬁrst taken to when they arrive at a venue)
Virtual worlds are highly visual experiences and in as the most central place at the location, and will also
many ways, a blank canvas for creativity. Because of have a billboard showing the map of the venue, with
this, it is very easy to start thinking about how additional teleport functionality at this point as well.
products/brands/services will look and be presented
in as well as how the overall venue will be designed. Never assume that visitors to your island will
intuitively explore the entire venue to ﬁnd what they
Don’t get carried away in the initial stages with design are looking for. By way of illustration, consider the way
- ensure the marketing plan makes sense ﬁrst. Of retail stores sign-post their oﬀerings to manage the
course, design plays a part but strategy should always ﬂow of traﬃc inside their shops. This approach is even
have greater importance, with design being a tactical used in virtual stores.
element within an overall plan. To use an analogy,
when you’re thinking of building a house, you meet Virtual world operators themselves should also add a
with the architect ﬁrst, not the builders. great deal of value here. Ask them for metrics relating
to previous campaigns in their world - what worked,
On this basis, creative concepts should be developed what didn’t work.
outside of the virtual world initially and only once the
initial strategy (point one) has been developed and Something else to remember here is that not every
agreed. If a concept is strong enough, then it can be type of virtual marketing campaign actually needs a
explained without the need to develop it in-world. On dedicated location. Virtual goods, as an example, can
approval of the concept, initial design prototypes be distributed to residents of virtual worlds at multiple
should then be created and it is at the point of this access points.
sign-oﬀ that in-world development starts.
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 5
Other worlds such as Stardoll actually provide ‘ready- Campaigns from other channels can now be
made’ venues (virtual stores) for brands in-world. eﬀectively integrated into virtual worlds platforms.
Each store template is then branded and tailored to Taking this theme even further, virtual worlds can be
the needs of the marketer. used to re-create elements, aspects or even
experiences from real-world products and marketing.
A great example of this is shown below for the movie I
This takes away the burden of thinking about location
and allows marketers to focus purely on the product
oﬀering and marketing initiatives (with input and
direction of the virtual world operator). The image
shown above is the DKNY virtual store in Stardoll. Warner Bros worked with development company The
Electric Sheep Company to produce a virtual New York
City and themed game in support of the ﬁlm release.
Point 3: Integrate
Furthermore, even physical products and real-world
Integrated marketing is a strategy speciﬁcally
services can be augmented into a virtual space.
designed to create synergy and maximum
eﬀectiveness for campaign planning. KZero developed and deployed a campaign for L’Oreal
Paris on this basis. We took real world make-up looks
TV adverts often use tactical websites to support
and made them available to residents in Second Life.
campaigns, companies often use cinema, radio and
print channels to deliver the same messages and sales
promotions (for example) promoted via direct mail
typically have a call-to-action of calling a phone
number or visiting a participating retail outlet.
Integrated marketing means a marketing message can
be delivered across a variety of complementary
channels to ensure maximum exposure to a campaign
- and virtual worlds are no diﬀerent.
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 6
Looking at integration inversely, a trend likely to and take them around the virtual world. This is no
emerge soon is a virtual world campaign being taken diﬀerent to the tactic of product sampling in the real
out of the virtual platform and integrated into real- world - remember, virtual worlds are just another
world activities. channel and traditional marketing mechanics can
This concept is ideally suited for companies who have
strong brand advocacy and design values. Shown below is imagery from a Pepsi campaign in
vMTV. Vending machines were located around the
world dispensing cans for 5 MTV bucks. When
Point 4: Giving is Better than someone purchased the virtual can, after ﬁve sips they
Receiving were oﬀered the chance to recycle the can. From here,
‘Let’s launch into a virtual world and loads more people if the can was actually recycled then the avatar was
will see our products and then click through to our oﬀered a branded Pepsi t-shirt. Viral advertising kicks-
website and buy them’. in from here with the avatar taking the brand message
across the world themselves.
People used to think that having a website was
enough - people will ﬁnd the site and buy the
products without encouragement or advertising.
Virtual worlds are about interaction and engagement
in a collaborative environment. It’s not about opening
a virtual store as an exact clone of a real-world
building and putting product replicas on the shelves.
It’s also not a platform purely for lead generation or
harvesting prospect contact data. Sure, this is possible Giving something back to the residents as opposed to
in virtual worlds and should always be considered but sitting back and expecting them to interact with your
this tactic should be an outcome from activity. brand is an crucial way to perceptionally dilute the
commercial aspect of a brand entering a virtual world
Marketeers need to look closely at their product and and also get people interacting with your products
services and explore ways to bring their brands to life and services.
virtually. Doing this can bring residents closer to
brands and makes them more receptive. This objective will also, if designed and implemented
well, stimulate possible viral activity and ultimately
Making brands and products ‘do something’ leverage virtual (and then real-world) brand
interesting and/or more than they can do in the real advocacy.
world is an excellent way to bring people closer to a
brand in a virtual world. Furthermore, these virtual Point 5: Keep the Seats Warm
products should proactively be promoted and given One of the biggest mistakes a company can make
away (either free or for a very low cost) to residents. when establishing a presence in a virtual world is
Let them take them, customise them, show them oﬀ treating activity in the same way as a website.
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 7
A website (excluding social networks) in its typical Secondly, you normally do not know who the actual
form is a notice board - a one-way communication person is ‘behind the avatar’. They could be your next
platform giving information to site visitors. customer, a key journalist or even your next boss.
Virtual worlds on the other hand are living, breathing Thirdly, being able to interact with the people visiting
environments and by design, these spaces are your venue means you can initiate conversations with
constructed to allow attendance and interaction by them. This is real-time market research.
avatars. Venues in these worlds look like real places -
they have doors, walls and objects and on this basis, Some virtual worlds will provide this type of
have to be treated in some cases, as oﬃces, shops and management on behalf of the marketer, thus reducing
exhibition areas, in other words shared collaborative internal resource and also it’s important to point out
spaces. that in some instances a campaign can be constructed
to totally remove management issues - but you’ll lose
There has been a lot of coverage of the marketing the research in most instances.
venues inside Second Life as looking empty at certain
times of the day and in particular not managed or Point 6: Stoke the Fire
frequented by personnel working for the company The majority of this plan so far has focussed on the
whose venue it is. The aspect of company attendance planning required to develop an eﬀective launch into a
on a digital platform is over-emphasised in virtual virtual world - the Entrance strategy.
worlds because visitors can see who else is in the
same place as them (there might be 10m other However, during the development programme,
people viewing photos on Flickr when you’re there but consideration should be given to how to stimulate on-
you would never know). going interest of the venue. This is the Existence
So, an important aspect to cover oﬀ when marketing
departments are developing entrance strategies is Existence strategies give residents reasons to return.
how best to provide visitors with company staﬀ to be Which can only be a good thing. ‘Stoking the ﬁre’ can
on-hand to assist residents. involve several activities.
This does not mean you need to provide 24/365 Firstly, hosting regular events as part of a campaign
coverage of a venue but it does mean that when not only demonstrates on-going commitment but
launches and other key events are taking place in- also seeks to cultivate a valuable community of
world, you need to have people who can speak with residents interested in your brand. These events can
authority about the company present. take many forms: parties, contests, competitions and
There are many beneﬁts to this approach. Firstly, even guest appearances by famous people associated
having company personnel present gives a clear with the brand.
message to residents that as a company you are This approach was used by agency Millions Of Us
committed to the campaign, the company activities when they took WWE: SummerSlam into Gaia Online.
and the residents present. Wrestler John Cena was invited to answer questions
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 8
on the forum. Over 50 pages of comments about this
were generated in the ﬁrst few hours. That total
shortly reached over 500.
When german band Tokio Hotel entered Stardoll, the As part of the L’Oreal Paris make-up looks campaign, a
hour-long chat session generated almost 80,000 real world print advert was used as a basis to create
questions from 121 countries. the ﬁrst ever cross-over ad campaign. This advert was
placed into in-world publications.
Point 7: Promote and Cross-Promote
So, you have your virtual world venue or campaign
ready, you’ve done your planning, your integration,
your giveaways and an on-going programme of
events. Now it’s time to tell people about it.
A key feature of Second Life and a growing number of
other worlds is the ability to teleport people from a
website directly into a speciﬁc venue in-world.
This is now opening up the use of websites and online
advertising as a way of driving traﬃc into virtual
Shown below are banner ads placed onto targeted
websites. The banners are promoting a Microsoft
competition for developers using their Visual Studio
software (it’s not every day you get oﬀered a free It will not be long before virtual world marketing
blimp ride right!?). initiatives are promoted in TV, print and other
mediums as promotion and then cross-promotion
initiatives are used to attract as many visitors as
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 9
There are even newspapers and magazines available • Second Life wasn’t suitable for the brand
now purely for virtual news stories and worlds. One
example is the Avastar - a metaverse red-top Now, in 2009, many more virtual worlds are available
newspaper available via website and in Second Life. catering to kids, tweens, teens and adults. This means
The newspaper (published two to three times a week) media planning can eﬀectively isolate the right world.
has stories about the latest virtual developments and KZero works with brands and companies to develop
just like real media, oﬀers advertising space. virtual world marketing campaigns/concepts and has
relationships with all the major worlds - we act as the
leverage, creative force and execution partner
between brands and worlds.
We also work closely with virtual words not yet
launched which further improve and facilitate the
success of marketing in the metaverse - more choices
for marketers and more opportunities for response-
driven campaigns. A full list of marketing activities
across various virtual worlds is contained in appendix
Another promotional technique already being used by
some companies is the use of tactical websites and
blogs speciﬁcally designed to support virtual activity.
This mechanic allows people to learn about in-world
activity without needing to be logged in and also
encourages people to sign-up by leveraging the traﬃc
levels on the website. vMTV makes great use of this.
Marketing into virtual worlds came to prominence in
2007 with the rush of brands into Second Life. Most of
these initiatives underperformed because:
• The campaign had no creative concept
• The execution was ﬂawed
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 10
Appendix One: The Universe Chart
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 11
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 12
Appendix Two: Brands in Virtual Worlds
Cartoon Doll Frenzoo Gaia Habbo Neopets Stardoll Vizwoz Weeworld Whyville Zwinky Total
20th Century Fox 1
Chrsitian Siriano 1
Heidi Klum 1
Marykate & Ashley 1
MayMay King 1
Natasha Bedingﬁeld 1
Nim’s Island 1
RCA Records 1
Universal Studios 2
Virgin / EMI 1
Vivienne Tam 1
Time Warner 2
Total 1 3 6 8 5 7 4 2 9 3 48
The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 13