Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Second Life Revamped

It's been a while since I last visited the world of Second Life. At the time I left, recession was kicking in, not only in the real world, but doubly in Second Life. It was not only the credit crunch, no, it was the Gartner Hypecycle kicking in with a bite.

Companies were disappointed in the 'marketing' options of Second Life, and it was too early to get a solid business case for immersion. Now, Second Life is gearing up again. They've changed their marketing campaign for Businesses and revamped the website.

Now, the revamped website is a pretty neat thing. It's no longer the plain old promotional website, but it has grown into a SLMS, or a Second Life Management System - which I already suggested back in 2007,

Highlights of the new from Torley on Vimeo.

Now the new attitude is promising. Back in 2007 and 2008 Second Life was bustling with Corporate activity, but after some exploration, allmost all companies left to do real 3D business elsewhere, like ABN Amro or Wells Fargo for instance. Second Life was not secure. Second Life management at that time did not really make an effort to support companies in Second Life, but I think now they've seen business drop and some part of 'reality' (i.e. cash) kicked in. There's money to be made from big clients, so I'm curious to see where it goes. Will have to see which companies have arrived since December 2008 and which have left since then top give a quick update on the Second Life Real Life Company Guide.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fire up that blog - Social Spark

Last week, the ReadWriteWeb, wrote an article titled "How Much Do Top Tier Bloggers and Social Media Consultants Get Paid? We Asked Them!" which probably is an interesting question to many bloggers out there.
Are you one of those that think they're making fortunes with their sponsored blogs, and would you like to do the same? Well, here's what ReadWriteWeb came up with:

Most people who are paid to blog are paid per post. What kinds of rates are our respondents seeing? The low end of the scale was $10 per post for very short posts. Almost everyone else said they were paid $25 per post. One person said they were paid $80 per post! One respondent said they were paid $200 per item of long-form writing; bloggers often do other kinds of writing as well.

Paid blogging is usually parttime stuff. Yes, people like Robert Scoble or the founders of big blogs like Download Squad and Engadget probably make a lot more. The question is, can you get paid to blog?
Well, actually, that's pretty easy these days if you sign up at Social Spark. Social Spark is a social network with two types of accounts: bloggers and advertisers. Start profiling yourself and your blog, add tags and start meeting the sponsors and advertisers.
On the homepage you see the latest sponsorship offers, featured blogs, cobloggers and the hottest blogs in the system. There are basically three types of rewards you can get at the marketplace at Social Spark: Sponsored posts where advertisers pay an amount for a reasonable blogpost with enough references, Sitewide sponsoring, just put up some ads on your site and finally, there's Affiliate sponsoring, which in my opinion goes somewhat into dark territory.
Once you put up your blog, you (or potential sponsors) can find a number of statistics about your blog, such as visits, real rank and alexa rank as well as demographics.

Okay, I signed up and there were actually a number of sponsored posts which I would be interested in doing but, alas, the MindBlizzard blog cannot participate as it has several guest authors. One of their criteria is that you and you alone own and create the blog. So much for this sponsorship deal as I value the input of my guestwriters more than making a few bucks on posts.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 13, 2008

Coke's Back with Nestea

An interesting story about the return of Coca Cola in Second Life. Through Reuters.

SECOND LIFE, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Will the marketing of real world brands in Second Life find a second life?

Maybe. Nestea, a Coca-Cola brand, announced today it’s sponsoring Second Life’s “Junkyard Blues” venue.

Neither Nestea nor Junkyard Blues’ owners were available for immediate comment. But a visit to Junkyard Blues shows a “Sponsored by Nestea” banner over the main stage. Don’t try clicking on the banner though — it’s non-interactive.

The sponsorship, while modest, represents an affirmation of Second Life as a continued destination for real-world companies to market their goods. A recent survey by BusinessWeek ranked Coca-Cola as the most valuable brand in the world.

Nor does the choice by Coca-Cola of a Second Life blues venue seem coincidental. Last month, Second Life bluesman Von Johin signed a record deal in what’s believed to be the first virtual musician to break into the real-life mainstream.

Coca-Cola was among the companies that made a strong entrance into Second Life during the first wave of corporate marketing with a “virtual thirst” campaign. However in recent months, the company has stepped back its Second Life profile, taking the website offline.

Find more on Coca Cola on the MindBlizzard blog

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pure Magic at 7Days

Yesterday Second Life saw the official opening of the 7 Days Magic Bakery, which I visited with high expectations, mostly because Aleister Kronos already blogged this build and wrote:

"I have to say that I think the build quality and approach knock just about every other corporate build into a cocked hat. In large part this is due to the decision by involve3d, the builders, to execute most of the build work outside of Second Life, using Maya. The resulting structures and textures were then uploaded for final placement in the sim. The result is a spectacularly successful marriage of forms and detailed textures - which is my pretentious way of saying: it looks great!"

7Days is one of the brands of Greek Vivartia, a foodconglomerate, which mainly produces packaged dough foods.

The Vivartia Bakery and Confectionery Division (following the absorption of Chipita International S.A.) is active in the production and distribution of standardized foods principally with a flour base. Since the establishment of Chipita in 1973, the Division has experienced steady development with particularly successful products both on the Greek and international markets. Always maintaining faith in quality and constant innovation, the Bakery and Confectionery Division of Vivartia has developed strong market labels such as 7Days, Bake Rolls, Molto & Finetti, which consumers trust on a daily basis.

State-of-the-art technology, constant support and the company’s vision for development all contribute to the dominant position held in all markets where we are active. Beginning with the individually packed croissant in 1990, constant research and development, the company improved and broadened the range of dough based products. Innovative ideas have led to new products such as mini croissants, strudels, tsoureki (brioche) and many others.Aside from sweet snacks, however, savory snacks also constitute an important part of the Division’s line with leading products such as Bake Rolls and Pita Bakes. Finally, the Division is active in the realm of chocolate products and produces the savory snacks par excellence – potato chips and cheese puffs. [Vivartia website]

As I said, the official opening was not ontil yesterday, when at 10 p.m. they hit off with a spectacular launchparty. It's been a while since I've seen a launchparty by a corporate build in Second Life. This alone makes the sim noteworthy. At this point in (media) time most companies flee media attention when it comes to their Second Life presence, either because their presence will justly be criticized as they don't know what they're doing in Second Life, or because the media still does not understand the values of the virtual world. Last month I blogged about CIGNA, an insurance company, with a highly succesfull presence in Second Life, and this is indeed another corporate gem, ready to go into the Best Practises for Companies textbook for Virtual Worlds.

So much for the introduction, let's immerse ourselves in this experience and see what all the fuzz is about. Upon teleporting in I receive a neat Landmark introducing the sim:

"Come play with your food! Meet rebellious robots and maestro bakers! Design, eat and trade your own custom pasties! A rich, whimsical bakery theme park … there's lots to do!"

And indeed, a whole town surrounds the bakery. After landing and walking through the entrance we meet Chef Vivardi on the first corner to start of the background narrative.

Next to the Chef you'll see a small sign. When clicked, the narrative starts. You'll find these points of interaction throughout the sim.

Chef Vivardi comes to life here whose job it is to supply the world with wholesome foods. Without taking any mystery out of your tour, the narrative of the brand – wholesome snacks to fit modern lifestyles – is present without dominating. Most importantly it forms the starting point of the 3D story, framing the entertainment, social aspects and interaction. There are rebellious robots, undeniably adorable machines all around, media textures that add life, and movie-quality voice-overs and music. In my opinion the music just totally makes it all come together. [Linda Zimmerman at Business Communicators of Second Life]

Moving on to the terrace

Undoubtedly, the centerpiece of the sim is the snack factory, towering above the surrounding village at the center of the sim.

Inside the factory you can take place at the production line an produce your own 7Days snack. Start with choosing your flavour, then color, topping, packaging and mood and be on your way with a customized snack. The production line is an excellent piece of scripting.

The idea of depicting a production line in Second Life isn't new, see for instance the blogpost "Second Life Yummy Garden" in which I describe how Ben & Jerry's did about the same over a year ago, which also was a big success in my opinion. Anyway, there's lot's more to see. This is a highly recommended sim. Enjoy your travels.


Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Gibson Virtual Guitar Heroes

While browsing through the newsarchives in the business section of the Avastar, a popular magazine on Second Life, I came across an article on Gibson Guitars in Second Life. The article is dated July 19th 2008.

GIBSON guitars launched their new presence in Second Life with a party on Wednesday.

The famous corporation put on a spectacular music show at the event with Bob Welch of the band Fleetwood Mac appearing as Bobwelch Magic.

He was also joined Second Life artists in performing at the party. The land is in the shape of a guitar body and will be used to host a series of concerts in the months to come.

There are also plenty of freebies dotted around the land which includes a diner and various dance areas.

For those who have never heard of Gibson, here's some wiki-knowledge.

The Gibson Guitar Corporation, of Nashville, Tennessee, USA, is a manufacturer of acoustic and electric guitars. The company's most popular guitar, the Les Paul Standard, is a solid-body electric guitar. Gibson also owns and makes guitars under such brands as Epiphone, Kramer, Valley Arts, Tobias, Steinberger, and Kalamazoo. In addition to guitars, the company makes pianos through its Baldwin unit, Slingerland drums, as well as many accessory items. Company namesake Orville Gibson made mandolins in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the late 1890s. Gibson used the same type of carved, arched tops in archtop acoustic guitars, and by the 1930s was also making flattop acoustic guitars and electric guitars. Charlie Christian, one of the first well-known electric guitarists, helped to popularize Gibson's electric guitars with his use of the ES-150 and ES-200. After being bought by the Norlin corporation in the late 1960s Gibson's quality and fortunes took a steep decline; by 1985 it was within three weeks of going out of business before it was bought by its present owners. Gibson Guitar is a privately held corporation (company stock is not publicly traded on a stock exchange), owned by chief executive officer Henry Juszkiewicz and president David H. (Dave) Berryman. [Wikipedia]

The funny thing is, I'd never registered this as a new build, which is mainly due to Aleister Kronos who blogged the Gibson presence in Second Life as early as February 2008. In early february the island was open to the public, but not finished at that time, which makes it vulnerable to criticism. This also shows in Al's blog:

"It is in part of the grid that has many new sims, and many more in the early stages of construction. This sim is no different. The main feature is a combination of terraforming and object creation that forms the shape of the Les Paul guitar body, complete with strings, controls and pickups. However, it looks like a first cut at the moment - a "build it and see what it looks like" experiment that may be developed into a more fully-fledged version in due course. One side of island has more practical public spaces - an acoustic stage, a diner/dance hall and an electric stage. However, it is immediately obvious when you arrive that the island is quite a way off being ready. There are various odd bits of things dotted about the sim, seemingly is varying stages of test.

As I've commented before, opening the doors too early is not necessarily a good idea, since you end up with non-reports like this one. I can't really make any fair comment on the sim because it is so incomplete - but that's because I am of a generous disposition. A meaner "me" might treat any open sim as public and hence fair game, and review it accordingly. It is better to get the sim to a state you are happy to consider complete before letting in the hordes."

Well, that was back in February, the island finally opened up in July. We're now a couple of months onward, so I'm a little late to check it out, but I'm curious to see what's out there now. The good this is that upon arrival there were actually quite a number of avatars flying about exploring the sim as well.

One side of the sim has a nice nostalgic American feel to it, it's major roads shaped like guitar necks lined with classic cars and typical American bars. Also Gibson Trolley will transport you if you so desire. Hether and thether you will see giant guitars standing out making it a bit of a jumble, but one the whole I like what I'm seeing.

The main venue is the Gibson store, and the great part about is, it offers you dozens and dozens of virtual Gibson guitars for free! This is merchandising. Lots of companies out there charge you a couple of Linden dollars for a lame t-shirt, this one gives away actually usefull stuff for free. They've understood that you won't make money selling small things, but have invested in building their brand and reputation. You also have the opportunity to win a Real Life Gibson.

"Over two-dozen “high prim” virtual Gibson models will be available throughout the Gibson Island only, allowing Second Life residents to own their dream guitar in this virtual world. The models will include Gibson’s Hound Dog Dobro, Hummingbird, SJ-200, Deluxe Songwriter, J-45, F5G mandolin, ES335 Heritage, 50th Anniversary Commemorative Explorer, Flying V, Les Paul Classic, Slash Inspired By Les Paul, John Lennon Signature Les Paul, Les Paul Robot, Les Paul Supreme, Double Cut Longhorn, SG Diablo, SG Angus Young Signature, SG Standard, and Les Paul Classic models." (Official Gibson website)

In the center of the island you'll find a clutter of things underneath another giant guitar neck with giant strings. One of these areas is the Gibson theatre in which you can view a number of presentation, among which a video about the production process of guitars.

There's a lot more to do and see, but as it is, this post is getting long enough. For a complete overview of stuff to do and see, visit the official Gibson Lifestyle page on Second Life here.

The island is surrounded by other islands, some in the early stages of development. I checked out one, a sim called Epiphony, which is also Gibson owned. I think this points out that Gibson's presence in Second Life has been a success sofar and they are expanding and investing in building a community.


Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When virtual money becomes a horrid reality

There's no denying trouble at the Dow, or any other Stock Exchange. Some even say the storm of the century is blazing across Wall Street. There's so much going on that even I felt the need to comment on it, even while I focus on Virtual Worlds.

Come to think of it, it isn't that farfetched as the NYSE guys and shortshellers didn't speculate with real money either. They've thought up a virtual capital, a virtual economy, uncovered wealth to push the market in the direction of real profit. Now speculating with this virtual wealth falls through and to many people it becomes a horrid reality as they run into credit or mortgage trouble, or might be fired in the coming months.

Techblogger Robert Scoble wrote an article called Economic Idiocy and at this point in time we may face Idiocy, maybe even frenzy, but at its core is something much darker: It is greed. A ‘little while ago” Descarte wrote: “Cogito Ergo Sum”, I think therefor I exist. In the past century -and especially in the USA -it has grown to I shop, therefor I am.

Marketing guru’s like Edward Bernays have found the triggers that make us buy things we don’t need, all to keep the economy running. Now throw in a bunch of greedy stockowners and shortsellers and you’ve got a volatile mix, focussed on short term profits. Profit is the main driver in our present economy. We lack long term vision and that’s what’s killing us now.

In our drive for profits and growth we have overextended ourselves. Where did sound economics go that said “Don’t buy if you can’t afford”? Instead we’ve invented credit card debt. We let go of the gold standard an have invented trillions of dollars of State Debt. We started speculating with money we don’t have.

Well, now we drop dead shopping. Back to thinking, looking at what we’re doing out there. What do we need, and why do we think we need more? Why do we desperately want to have a bigger car than our neighbours, or a bigger house than our colleagues. If you’ve done healthy financial management, didn’t overextend and are debt free, the storm will pass. Maybe we’ve got to accept the fact that in other cases it’s a dreadfull, yet necessary correction to our unbridled greed.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Playboy gets Dressed

This weeks top story features Playboy getting dressed for the occasion. Playboy getting dressed isn't your typical April Fool's Day prank but a very smart move by the popular magazine, as reported by James Wagner Au at the NWN blog:

Smart Bunny: Playboy Sells Fashion Created And Co-Branded By Second Life Designers

With regular events and a staff of gregarious, frequently dancing Bunnies, Playboy's official Second Life presence, a tropical island club developed by Boston's Green Grotto Studios, is one of the few real world company sites boasting steady visitor traffic. (Direct SLURL teleport at this link.) And unless I missed a previous announcement, it can now claim another title: the first major company to link its brand with Second Life-only brands. In this case, Playboy-branded fashion sold on the official island, but created and promoted by SL designers who are an integral part of the label; among them, KO Designs, Alpha Male, Sharkture, and Simply Spoiled.

Playboy started out in the Metaverse with the opening of the Playboy Island in Second Life in June 2007 (read blogpost here), which surprisingly (for many) didn't become the house of sin in the sex-filled world of Second Life. No actually, there was nothing sexy about Playboy's presence.

This time, everybody is getting fluffy with the bunny as Playboy is now in cohoots with a quality selection of Second Life fashion designers. Reactions from the more marketing oriented blogs are pretty happy about Playboy's move;

Nic Mitham says:

"The company is selling Playboy-branded items on the island created by residents inside Second Life - they are tapping into the expertise incumbent in-world."

And Digodo writes:

"It’s an interesting move because apparently Playboy thinks they can fill a gap the Metabrands have - a recognizable, A-brand that separates the quality from the B products for people who haven’t spend months in Second Life. On the other hand, the metabrands bring ‘good will’ of the existing community to the table, a recognised and appriciated brand amongst people who have spend some time in Second Life and are well rooted into the community.

What the most important thing is, in my humble opinion is that Playboy seem to understand how communities work and that is even more important than getting your product out in the virtual world. I have been very disappointed with the things (the majority of) real world companies have done in Second Life sofar. It's been a marketing trip mostly, and the community just isn't interested. It's time companies skip the promo-attitude blabla and start taking their business into Virtual Worlds.

This would have been easy for Playboy, to bring their business to a Virtual World which is sex-infested according to many. Doing the opposite; getting dressed gets them my respect and it shows they understand the way the Second Life community works. Whereas most brands come in and invite people to 'leave their natural habitat' to come to their island, Playboy is bringing the brand to the community.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, March 24, 2008

vBusiness Expo - April 2008

It's been a couple of months since I heard the first plans from Clever Zebra to organise yet another vw conference and expo. Here's the first announcement:

The vBusiness Central project in Second Life will launch in April with a 4 day Expo, to be held bi-yearly in April and October (which coincides with the Virtual World Conference).

The conference aims to cover 4 key areas:

We'll be announcing dates and details very shortly. If you want to keep up with developments, including other Clever Zebra events and product updates then join our email list to be first with the news.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BannerBingo: Breakthrough in Internet Marketing

Don't you get annoyed with all the banners poppin up all over the web when you're trying to find some information? Marketing departments really have explored every corner of the web to put up their ads and you'll hardly find a site that isn't bannerized...

Usually I don't pay too much attention to banners. Usually they're not inline with the things I need when I see them, so there's hardly a banner I actually click to see what's behind it. Today I got triggered though and started thinking about internet marketing.

Today I registered the domains and for a new experiment. What usually happens when you've got a great idea is that you go through great lengths in detailed description of your idea / invention and try to trademark it or register the formula to protect your intellectual property, spending tons of hard earned money only to find out the idea has been submitted long before you saw the light. This usually dawns when you've already put in months of effort to find a producer or buyer for the concept.

It happened to me a number of times, so I won't go through the hassle again. I just decided to blog it. Let the date of my domain registration and blog be proof of the date of conception and formula. Truth be told, I just thought of the idea and name today, but the domain has been registered in august 07, but as of now, there's no site there yet and a quick scan has revealed no idea similar to this one.

What BannerBingo is about is that a company advertises all across the web, trying to get in touch with as much customers as possible -pretty much based upon IP adresses and ISP selection. As a customer I occasionally come across one of the many banners of corporation X and don't pay attention. In BannerBingo you register as a customer and collect BannerPoints. Let's say each banner you come across will get you 5% discount. If you surf across the web and find 5 of these banners by the same company, you'll earn yourself a 25% discount. (amount of banners and percentages subject to change off course)

The basic idea is that when you encounter more than one of the company's banners they know are succesfull in targeting their intended audience / a certain profile and the audience is challenged to click the banner to earn discount. Let's make advertising a game ;)

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Levi's Extraverse

In October Jeans tycoon Levi's launched its own extraverse, Levi's World, in Hong Kong, a branded virtual world dedicated to Levi products. It's first live hours saw over 6.000 registrations with eager fashion addicts and pretty soon we'll see the English version go live.

The campaign for Levi's World has been created by TEQUILA Hong Kong (TBWA) and OMD. Their view basically comes down to:

"Are you fed-up of Facebook, sick of Second Life? If so, then you may be interested to know that Levi’s are claiming to have ‘disrupted the convention’ of such social networking sites with the launch of the first ever (do they really think so?) branded virtual world. No prizes for guessing what it’s been called, though"

Levi's weren't the first to go extraverse, but it is a logical step. Throughout the Metaverse you see people paying a lot of attention to their avatars, with clothing being a hot marketing item.

First images do not show this world as able to create realistic avatars and environment, but a bit more cartoonesk graphics. The world is aimed at 15-25 year olds and has a free membership model. However, economy and marketing comes into play as you're able to buy your Levi stuff and can obtain vouchers which can be used at Real Life Levi stores.

Here's a YouTube movie about the launch:

To go from scratch to a dedicated extraverse is a giant leap, but Levi's has got several years of experience in the Metaverse which they started to explore as early as 2003. Along with Nike, Levi's was one of the main sponsors that pushed the launch of

"27,000 There
There launched its beta-test form -- 27,000 users have already entered the There world -- in January, with Nike and Levi Strauss & Co. among marketers who partnered with the firm to see how their wares fared in a virtual marketplace. Both brands will continue their relationship with there."

Full launch article here.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, November 01, 2007

CSI (7): CSI meets expectations

When the first critical and cynical blogs on CSI:NYwere starting to appear I was starting to get some mixed feelings

For exact numbers we either have to wait for CSI or the Electric Sheep Company to come with traffic stats and onRez viewer downloads and compare them to next weeks' Headcount by Tareru Nino. I do believe though that the average number of concurrent logins is higher these days. I'm not saying it was a smashing success. The massive number of islands, the fuzz upfront made us expect a lot. Again, too early to tell. There may well be ROI's made, but not sure which. I hope it'll continue though. Haven't had time to start solving the murder yet, but I for one like the concept. Me liking something isn't a guarantee that it'll make you millions though. (CSI (5) The Aftermath)

Finally, the Second Life Herald posted an article that kind of tried to sink the project.

A virtual recession may threaten the metaverse, as service workers hired to meet and greet noobies suffered mass layoffs today. The layoffs are part of a significant downsizing in the number of CSI:NY sims - perhaps due to a less than enthusiastic response to shark jumping, couch potato marketing of immersive games to television viewers. At this time last week, some enthusiastic reports were suggesting that CBS television's CSI:NY/Second Life hookup could yield as many as 1 million new players. However, that enthusiasm has been tempered by reality. (CSI:NY shrinks by 93%)

I've discussed that post with my good friend Aleister Kronos who has some reservations on the subject as well. There are a few things that don't really fit in. First of all, we came to watch the show and it carried a lot of Cisco sponsoring. Secondly, there was some exaggeration in the announcements, in the way that Hollywood usually does

Just yesterday I spoke with Chris Carella (Satchmo Prototype), Electric Sheep's Chief Creative Officer. I asked him what they thought of the result. Here's what he replied:

"Believe it or not, despite the blogs, everything is going exactly as planned. We purposefully had many many extra sims and staff the first 2 nights as a just in case precaution. There are few user experience worse than not being able to log in or even worse crashing the grid.

We're right on point with ours and CBS' expectations as far as number go. I've been impressed with how many people are still signing up a week later. It's to soon to get a good feel on retention numbers. Our expectations were never the millions of people the SL community expected. The % of people who went from TV to SL are well in line with our other TV experience and CBS's other efforts in cross media.

TV is a passive medium. It's really hard to get people from watching TV, to their computer checking out a website an downloading an application. However, those that do make it become more valuable customers. They spend 2-3 times longer a week with your brand and they will tell others how cool your show is".

The show has had about 16 million viewers, of which some 80.000 signed up for an account in the last week. That's a response of 0.5%. My marketing knowledge is a little rusty, maybe Nic Mitham from KZero can say some clever things on that, but as far as my memory serves me 0.5% is a very acceptable response. Truth is, we don't know if those 80.000 signed up because of CSY:NY. If we look at groups in Second Life, the CSI:NY group is the largest at the moment, having close to 1200 members, but the group for "the Office", which was much more viral and smaller in setup has about 675 members. And if they signed up for CSI, how many of those will stay?

There were those who had expected more than a million of new residents to sign up. Like a 5% response. That would have been awesome, a smashing success. Such a smash hit isn't build overnight though. If the 80K signups is a reliable figure to go by, I would say that the Great Satchmo has every reason to be happy. By marketing and advertising standards it's good. It got publicity and people still come to the CSI:NY sims. Everybody is entitled to his / her opinion. I'm inclined to look at it in a positive fashion. It's been a first time experience. We've got lots to learn. But we'll get there

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, October 06, 2007

VeeJay @ San Jose Conference

Real Life has been very stressfull and very very busy this last month. Since there's Mrs. V and the Kids to keep in touch with I haven't really had time to dig into Second Life, let alone blog it.

Sorry folks.

The good news is, I'm getting back up to speed, starting with visiting the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo next week in San Jose, California. I'm really looking forward to it, especially since I've got an appointment with a Linden Lab employee on tuesday.

On wednesday and thursday you'd probably be able to catch me on these tracks:

Wednesday (10th):

  • Business Strategy & Investment --Economics of Virtual Worlds
  • Entertainment, Media & Marketing -- ROI How the rules are changing
  • Entertainment, Media & Marketing -- Entertainment in Virtual Worlds - It's Not Games. it's Not TV. It's....
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Applications that Work

Thursday (11th):

  • Business Strategy & Investment -- The Future of VW's
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Best practises for employees in VW's
  • Virtual Worlds for the Enterprise -- Creating a user community
  • Business Strategy & Investment -- Finance in a VW

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, August 31, 2007

Coke lost its bubbles?

It's been a while since Coca Cola entered Second Life. When they finally entered, a lot of us were expecting a whole lot from them. Now they're turning their backs on Second Life with outright disappointment. What happened?

Let's get back to the start. In early april an enormous buzz surrounded the anticipated immersion of Coca Cola. We'd all expected Coke to launch a cool island in Second Life, but they didn't. Led by marketing agency Crayon they've set up a small campaign on the Crayon island as an extention to Coca Cola's new marketing campaign, "Virtual Thirst". The buzz created in the days leading to this release was good. The actual immersion a bit disappointing to many residents and bloggers.

[image from Coffee with Crayon]

Yet Crayon seemed to be doing a good job. The "Coffee with Crayon" sessions showed commitment to the community, or engagement (one of the 5 essentials according to Information Week's Mitch Wagner). I think over the past months, since april 2007, respect grew for the way Crayon & Coke handled things. At least, I've seen pretty positives things in the blogosphere and we were curious to see where this was going.

[image by Cyn Peccable at Flickr]

However, Coca Cola has a reputation when it comes to marketing. It spends millions of dollars on brilliant television ads, most of which we can recall pretty well. I personally had expected them to create such an epic adventure in Second Life as well. But they didn't. And now they're disappointed.

The infamous Wired article "How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life" tells about Coke's adventures in Second Life and their disappointment in the number of visitors they drew inworld:

"Yet Donnelly decided to put money into Second Life anyway. He's no digital naïf: When he joined Coke last summer, the company was being ridiculed for its huffy response to a spate of Web videos showing the soda geysers that erupt when you drop Mentos into Diet Coke. Within weeks, Donnelly had Coke and Mentos sponsoring a contest on Google Video that's gotten more than 5.6 million views. But Second Life was different. 'Many places you go, there's still nobody there," he concedes. That's certainly the case with Coke's Virtual Thirst pavilion, where you can long linger without encountering another avatar. "But my job is to invest in things that have never been done before. So Second Life was an obvious decision.'"

Nick Wilson at Metaversed is also having second thoughts about his initial excitement on the Coke-strategy for Second Life, as he writes:

"What they didn't count on though, was the fact that Second Life isn't full of the same echo chamber web2.0 commentators that wave and cheer and throw their knickers at mere mention of user generated media. No, it's made up of ordinary folks interested in their own stuff -- their own shops, groups, businesses and friends. And when you realize that, is it any wonder that the figures cited by Joel Greenberg are less than stellar?"

These Greenberg figures are:

  • 300 blog posts about the contest

  • 33,000 links

  • 150+ photos in Flicker

  • 31,000 Youtube views with 160,000+ comments.

Tony Walsh from Clickable Culture writes:

"Here's what I think: Hardly anyone entered the Virtual Thirst contest, which is why Crayon kept asking for submissions, why Coke didn't mention how many entries the contest got, and why the official site now rots before us. If the contest did receive an impressive number of entries, where's the evidence on Flickr, YouTube, MySpace, or the official Virtual Thirst site? "

Furthermore, he remarks "And then... nothing. No mention of the fact that the contest judging was delayed by over a month. No major Virtual Thirst site updates, just an announcement of the winning entry two months after submissions were closed. At the time of this writing, the official Virtual Thirst site doesn't even acknowledge the winner."

Where does this all add up to? Has Coke failed to impress the way it usually does with marketing campaigns? And can we conclude that Second Life is a bad platform for marketing activities? The next quote (by Ordinal Malaprop) perhaps says it all:

"Would it be reasonable to put up a promotional video on YouTube that not many people wanted to watch, leave it there, see that it didn't get a lot of views and conclude that YouTube was a useless medium? Or, for that matter, to publish one issue of Wired and then complain that people stopped buying it after a while?"

This was said in response to Chris Anderson's The Long Tail: Why I gave up on Second Life, another of those examplary articles of old media not understanding the world we live in today.

It's not fair to say this blog by Chris Anderson is another examplary article. It's pretty much the same article. Chris Anderson writes for Wired and both the Long Tail and Madison Waste article are signs of personal frustration. They're only looking for the negative aspects in this story and don't leave room for (even small) success stories.

Donnelly said in public he thought this first entry into Second Life a success. We don't have all the data, Coke has. We don't know what their criteria for success were at the start. But if the client is happy, why say it's a flop?

This was also said (again) by Electric Sheep's Joel Greenberg:

"'Coke was in Second Life prior to us actually entering SL,' said Donnelly, referring to coke machines fans were making and putting in the world. Taking what the fans were doing to the next level, Crayon and Coke developed a contest to make a vending machine, with the idea that SL residents are thirsty for experience. Of course, avatars don’t have physical needs like eating and drinking, but by taking the brand value of coke and appropriately translating it into a virtual world, Crayon and Coke created an appropriate, successful campaign. To be clear, I’m not saying they were successful, Donnelly the client said the campaign was successful based upon the criteria they set for themselves."

Okay, one last quote, this time by from Second Effects blogger ArminasX Saiman:

"In such a small market, you must expect small returns until the economy grows. You cannot expect big things to happen. Consider an analogous situation: a big-city manufacturer shows up in 45,000 resident Smallville and spends $1M on a spanky new store. By the way, the big city manufacturer produces items that are not usable in Smallville. What do you think is going to happen?"

So did Coke blow the bubbles or didn't they?

Coca-Cola by nature is not a virtual brand. It's products (soft drinks) have absolutely no value in a virtual environment. Avatars don't need nutrition. This means Second Life, or any other virtual world, isn't suitable as a product selling platform. It has merits though when it comes to branding. Coca-Cola is a strong brand and is capable of creating a strong brand experience in tv-commercials. If they're capable of creating Christmas they must be able to create a Second Life experience as well.

More recent campaigns, such as the one above would certainly be strong material to create immersive shared experiences in Second Life. Personally I've never been enthusiastic about Coke's Virtual Thirst campaign, but reading the evidence I wouldn't call it a flop. I just hope they're getting involved in the Community and create Cocalicious experiences. Is it worth doing so in an environment with 'so few active users'? That will be up to Coke. As long as they take into consideration that:

  • We're just in the early days of Virtual Worlds and they will grow, no matter what frustrated journalists say.
  • The userbase (which might not be as large as many would have liked) in Second Life is a very active, downright creative and critical userbase. And if they can "make it there, they'll make it anywhere."

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dutch Edu: Inholland University

The Dutch University InHolland is the next Dutch Educational institution that's active in Second Life. Their sim has been around for several months now, but hasn't been open for public sofar.

However, a Communication & Media student from the University of Applied Sciences INHOLLAND, Rotterdam, has graduated in Second Life as first virtual graduate in the Netherlands on thursday june 14th.

"From a marketing perspective virtual communities are an interesting research and investment area," says graduate Josje van Beek. "Two dimensional virtual communities like weblogs and forums have been the subject of research and marketingstudies quite often in the past. Now that there's 3D added tot this 2D community by means of gaming and video technology I wanted to study how interesting this would be from a marketing perspective. This is the subject of my thesis; "3D Virtual Communities as a Marketing Instrument."

To Josje it seemed a logical step to defend her thesis in Second Life, as she uses it as case study.

The tutors involved have been enthusiastic from the start and appeared last thursday in the Inholland E-Lab. Prior to the graduating there was a short introduction to SL. The graduation presentation was a simulcast event utilising various assorted media

"In the defense of my thesis I will both visually as textually explore the possibilities of a 3D environment," Josje said upfront. The graduation is put on tape by real life video and snapshots and movies from an avatar point of view.
Thanks to Dobre @ Secondlife Blogo / Lost in the Magic Forest for pointing out this story.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Buzz Word "Local"

It seems "local" is one of the big buzz words going around.

Was the title of an interesting question I spotted on Linked-In

"local" search marketing
"local(location based)" mobile marketing
These are two of the things I have heard associated with local marketing. I believe some have referenced the long tail saying that small local establishments advertising could add up to more than the big Brand advertisers.

what is your take on this? Do you think it is truly a scalable solution? Which do you think "local" targeting provides the greatest area of growth mobile or online?

Do you think if the same "targeting" ability was available in radio maybe to target someone in a specific zip code would the demand be there?

The winner is
With the huge amount of spamming and direct mail and unpersonalised printed marketing material you would indeed think it would be a winner if you could get into the local-targeting mode.

It's not a winner though, it's a slight improvement. With todays technology of online banking, online ordering etcetera the winner is: income and spendinghistory specific marketing.

In other words, we're talking about intelligent documents (I need to set up a file for this item ;)

Labels: , , , , , ,