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The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds


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The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds

  1. 1. 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds A KZero Worldswide report The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 1
  2. 2. 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- savvy individuals. However, what companies considering a metaverse entrance should remember is that brands have to be positioned not pushed into virtual worlds. 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
  3. 3. 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 emerging space. 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 San F 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. US 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 Europe to consider entering Second Life. Below (next page) is 37% Canada the age range spread for residents. 3% rancisco. The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 3
  4. 4. The graph below shows the regional breakdown of fashion-themed world Stardoll. Rest of World 16% US 37% 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
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. 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 Am Legend. 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
  7. 7. 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 work well. 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
  8. 8. 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 strategy. 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
  9. 9. 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 worlds. 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 possible. The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 9
  10. 10. 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 two. 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. In Summary 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
  11. 11. Appendix One: The Universe Chart The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 11
  12. 12. The 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Report. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 12
  13. 13. Appendix Two: Brands in Virtual Worlds Cartoon Doll Frenzoo Gaia Habbo Neopets Stardoll Vizwoz Weeworld Whyville Zwinky Total Emporium 20th Century Fox 1 Adobe 1 Bankinter 1 Chrsitian Siriano 1 DKNY 1 Disney 2 Dustys 1 Getty 1 Greenpeace 1 Heidi Klum 1 Kohl’s 1 Lionsgate 1 Liucia 1 Marykate & Ashley 1 MayMay King 1 MTV 2 NASA 1 Natasha Bedingfield 1 Nike 1 Nim’s Island 1 NSPCC 1 Paramount 2 Penguin 1 Postbank 1 RCA Records 1 Sears 4 Sephora 1 Sony 2 Sun 1 TBS 1 Toyota 2 Universal Studios 2 Virgin / EMI 1 Vivienne Tam 1 Time Warner 2 WWE 2 Zazzle 1 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