Second Life is just the first step for brands in virtual worlds

The talk of the industry these past weeks has been about marketers leaving Second Life – not to ditch virtual worlds but to experiment with other virtual destinations such as Gaia Online, There, and Entropia Universe. Virtual worlds exist on many levels, catering for varying audiences – so this should come as no surprise.

Brands are entering virtual worlds due to the increasing number of users, their attractive demographic profile, the quality time they spend and the opportunities they offer. Virtual worlds are not games: consumer behaviour more closely resembles the kind of behaviour we see in chatrooms or social networking platforms, and already brands are engaging users in compelling ways. Reebok’s work in Second Life, for instance, is particularly innovative. In-world, you can buy Reebok trainers for your avatar that are coloured and branded as you like. You can then choose to buy the footwear in real life – with Reebok making your self-designed trainers to order, delivering them to your “real” front door. It doesn’t stop there. Reebok takes note of what footwear virtual residents design and buy and how they’re worn, and uses this information to improve marketing in the real world.

The downside of this is the limited reach of any one “world”. The challenge now for marketers is to choose which ones offer the optimal consumer reach and best represent their target market, and to understand how to appeal to that market. Emerging forms of advertising are proving highly effective at targeting the most elusive yet lucrative of audiences. So brands will no doubt expand beyond Second Life, just as brands advertise in one publication over another, or in several complementary titles.

In a similar vein, in-game advertising has for some time been offering the kind of brand interaction, “sweet spot” audience and ROI measurement that has given rise to £1bn-plus market forecasts by 2012. As well as guaranteeing its appearance in a range of the world’s leading interactive entertainment franchises, a brand can tell precisely how often its virtual products or advertising are used and seen. This is not just branding your firm’s virtual office, it’s being part of the consumer’s own world.

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here