The Virtual Brand Among the 8.3 million Second Life residents* You Are Here: who spend $1.7M on virtual goods and services daily. *as of 8/10/07
The Virtual BrandEvery media outlet has a method of best practice for marketing. Now that marketers are beginning to understand the internet has added to the marketing mix, the newest addition to this mix is Social Networking and Virtual Worlds
The Virtual BrandSecond Life, the most popular virtual world, is quickly becoming an important platform for marketers to consider. These worlds, also referred to as Massively Multiuser Online Media(MMOM), are currently in a state of tremendous growth. This growth provides companies the opportunity to enter Second Life and establish their brand footprint, or level of impact, in this new world
The Virtual BrandVirtual world Second Life has 8.3 million+ participants, 2 million of which have been active in the last 60 days. Its growing success hasplaced it on the cover of Business Week and the front page of the New York Times technology section. Countless media outlets, from Wired to Financial Times have given Second Life coverage, and a Google search on Second Life reveals over 39 million hits.
The Virtual BrandHow pervasive and remarkable is Second Life? As examples:- Reuters has opened up a news service devoted to the virtualworld. The in-game currency, the Linden Dollar, fluctuates hourly,like any real-world currency, and is monitored by Reuters SecondLife Bureau.- Calvin Klein is launching a fragrance on Second Life, ck IN2U,despite the fact that a virtual world is a scentless environment- Second Life is more than a virtual meeting space. Jazz pianistLouis Landon gave a concert in Second Life, “with his keyboardconnected to a streaming media server via his PC.” iv Other artistswho have played in Second Life include Suzanne Vega andChamillionaire.
The Virtual BrandSecond Life’s residents buy and sell tens of millions of dollars of virtual products weekly, creating new markets out of thin air.This has prompted congressional hearings to look into the question of taxing this growing virtual economy
The Virtual BrandAlthough it uses 3-D rendering tools common to games like The Sims or World of Warcraft, Second Life is not a game but a tool forsocializing, sharing, learning, doing business as well as playing.Second Life has no objectives and few evil monsters to shoot, and those that exist are a small part of a much larger world
The Virtual BrandAccording to Greg Verdino, digital marketing executive and blogger, “As marketers, we tend to think in terms of marketer and media property per se, Second Life is simply a technology platform with a commerce backend, in which everything that happens inside is created by the residents for the residents”
The Virtual BrandLinden Lab doesn’t make the products, building or environments found in-world, but acts essentially as a virtual real estate holdingcompany, that rents out real estate in the form of server space.Unlike other multimedia environments, Second Life residents retain the intellectual property rights to their creations, igniting a new economy.
The Virtual BrandSecond Life has revolutionized the online world by allowingresidents to own the intellectual property rights to their creations.Second Life residents set and pursue their own objectives and are willing to spend real money to do it. Because it takes time and effort to create objects in Second Life ix, there’s a demand forready-made virtual products. In response to this, users have become adept at creating desirable property. Linden dollars can be sold back for real dollars.
The Virtual BrandSecond Life is based on user-driven innovation. For example, youcan go to the virtual Toyota dealership, buy a virtual Toyota for 300 Linden Dollars (just over USD$1) and show it off to your avatar friends. You can also customize it to make it unlike any other car in the real or virtual worlds. Many stores allow users to modify their products. This allows residents to take a Toyota Prius, design it totheir liking and provide out of the box aesthetic feedback to “reallife” engineers and designers.
The Virtual BrandThe Benefits of Branding Within Second Life:The media has prominently featured stories of how Second Lifeeconomy has enabled entrepreneurs like Anshe Chungxi.However virtual worlds can also provide a casual environment for:> Engagement and customer feedback> Market research and focus groups> PR/media buzz> Furthering existing customer relationships and creating new ones> Contextualizing peer-to-peer and group interaction> User-driven innovation> Deepening relationships
The Virtual BrandSecond Life is also an excellent platform for market research.• Adidas allows customers to design their own sneaker in SecondLife, helping them to design more remarkable “first life” sneakers.• Mazda has also ventured into designing an experiential marketingvehicle; the car’s designers even appear in virtual form to launchthe new model.• “Just as the web replaces and extends the capabilities of traditionalprint media, Second Life is extending the capabilities ofbroadcast media and chat. Second Life now surpasses the intensityof broadcast advertising at an even more favorable price point thanprint.” Source: MediaPost
The Virtual BrandWhen brands truck brick and mortar tactics wholesale into Second Life without tailoring to the unique virtual culture, they may havea rude awakening when their Second Life homesteads receive few visitors. Brands such as American Apparel have been picketed, dueto lack of Second Life cultural respect, when they created ordinary buildings with very few options for residential interaction.
The Virtual BrandYou wouldn’t market goods and services in a foreigncountry without tailoring the message to respect thesocial, political and economic culture of that country.The same rule should be applied to Second Life. Inthis case, that means creating a unique and invitingenvironment that residents can interact with.Indigenous resident-owned stores that are mannedin Second Life welcome a greater number of avatars,who then in turn spend more time and money.
The Virtual BrandMarket Truths Limited concluded that the two components of the metric —how many people are aware of the brand’s Second Life activities,and how the brand’s Second Life presence influences overall brandattitudes —are determined in large part by what tactics are undertaken on behalf of the brand within Second Life. Brands that score most highly on the metric tend to go beyond showing theirproducts, provoking virtual versions and web links.They provide opportunities for deeper engagement by making a brand- relevant contribution to the community and creating opportunities for interaction such as co-creation and customization of products.
The Virtual BrandTask—In your groups you have to work with one other team to collaborate on Second Life. This means one team has to develop and market a product whilst the other has to test and then answer market research questions on the product. You may use a product already created but you will need to learn how to do this from the following:http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Marketing_Your_Products_In_Second_Life
The Virtual BrandSecond Life has traffic ranking, just as Google does, which is based on, among other things, the number of avatars who are visiting a sim and the length of their stay. The higher these metrics are, the more prominently the sims will rank in the in- world search feature.Indigenous Second Life businesses routinely pay avatars to campout or dance in their sims, generally, one or more Linden Dollarsper hour, less than a third of a penny, effectively boosting theirtraffic rankings.
The Virtual BrandMarket Truths Limited calculated an overall Second Life brand impactmetric. According to their research, “all of the most frequentlymentioned brands are receiving a positive impact from their[Second Life] presence, but the impact is greatest for Reuters —largely due to the fact that most of those who have encounteredthe brand in Second Life say doing so has improved theirimpression of the company. IBM had the next greatest impact,but its position is more a result of the fact that it received morementions in the unaided awareness question than any other brand.Toyota, Nissan, and Dell had the next greatest brand impacts.The black bars at the bottom show the metrics for Toyota andSony when their two separate brand names are combined.”