There are people attending concerts, buying clothes, selling land and building homes right on your desktop in the virtual world of Second Life. Sounds to me like a good chance to strike up a conversation.
Second Life’s effect on online marketing is slowly developing as more brands realize the potential power of marketing and advertising through virtual environments. The possibilities are very similar to those in the real world. Whether you throw an event for your non-profit, sell any imaginable merchandise in the Second Life Boutique, hold a live concert or buy a billboard, there are countless opportunities to send your message to a captive audience of highly creative and educated users.
In January 2008, residents spent a total of 28,274,505 hours “in world.” The maximum concurrency recorded is 88,200 in the first quarter of 2009, according to its developer Linden Lab. Yet, this realm is relatively isolated from the world of marketing.
Analyst Adam Sarner predicted that more money will be spent on marketing to multiple, anonymous online personas than offline marketing by the year 2015. More and more people are expected to weave higher percentages of augmented reality into daily life, whether it is through the use of GPS on a smartphone or through marketing on Second Life. This means that marketing messages can be transferable between the real and the virtual market.
This is good news for organizations that have already made the move to this market. Interactive media company CNET and global information company Reuters are both present in Second Life, hosting virtual news bureaus and covering the events of the world. It is also good news for various non-profits that are using the site as a low-cost and highly interactive fundraising tool.
The American Cancer Society is an excellent example of fundraising success through Second Life. The 2008 Relay For Life® was the most successful fundraising event in the history of Second Life. Even though the average donation was only $3, it raised a total of $214,000, with participants and volunteers from at least 14 different counties. It is the largest contiguous event Second Life has ever seen, including interactive cancer information resource center, peer support groups, live concerts, jewelry sales, auctions, fairs and dances.
The point of the matter is that if your consumer market is spending three hours a day in a virtual world that mimics our own, then your marketing materials must be just as easily consumed by the man on the street as the avatar on the screen.