For the past 2 months, SecondLife.com, the three-dimensional virtual world, has been getting tons of press. And a fast-growing new user base, signing up almost 1.4 million members (over 400,000 since September). A second life, so to speak, since it's actually been around since 2003. With SecondLife, it's your world, your imagination. And we all get to live in it. Labels: Jointblog
Plus you can fly!
Web 2.0 is suddenly pouncing on it. This week, Fortune says SecondLife is not overhyped as the next hot thing post-Google, post-MySpace.
BusinessWeek put SecondLife on its cover in October, saying Big Media's land grab is well under way.
ClickZ shows how to live a new (virtual) life.
The Wall Street Journal even says advertising agencies are recruiting new talent and holding virtual meetings online using their avatars.
But what is SecondLife?
In SecondLife, the online realm where real people, under the guise of avatars, mill and mingle, change clothes in front of each other while chatting, and, in some cases, make a living. The game's audience is growing at about 38% month over month, expecting to add 200,000 to 250,000 new players -- many of them the coveted younger early adopters -- in October alone. Wired magazine says "Second Life is almost a phenomenon like [video site] YouTube, it's reached critical mass."
SecondLife is succeeding spreading its buzz in a unique way: it "builds" virtual office towers of real-life media companies within its fabricated world. Reuters' island. Wired's digitized headquarters. C|net's replicated 5-story new glass-and-brick office. To be seen, media companies are "buying" with their "Linden dollars" real estate and building big.
Meanwhile, The W Hotel opens a new hotel. And IBM's CEO can be seen walking the city sidewalks. I wonder if this is where we'll find former Viacom CEO Tom Freston, since he has more time for his personal travel desires? He may already be there.
What I wonder is will we find XM or Sirius satellite radio there before we hear terrestrial radio stations? It seems like a natural to hear Howard Stern within the SecondLife world. Or for either satellite radio service to dedicate one of their channels into a SecondLife channel, broadcasting the site's virtual "life" complete with fake news, gossip, music and happenings with real marketing messages.
Maybe we could even see Howard Stern's avatar broadcasting from his studios on a virtual Howard TV broadcast and be in his virtual audience.
Media is beginning to merge in reality and virtual.
Reuters' new agency has even assigned a real-life news reporter to cover the "news" happening within the SecondLife world. And he gets interview requests from around the world. That's smart.
The user population is represented by interactive graphic avatar characters, offering a new opportunity for marketing companies to communicate with users online. For example, if you go, for instance, to Sony Music's island, you can enter a Christina Aguilera room, and watch her latest video (while your avatar sits in an easy chair, of course).
So, Sony benefits from both your avatar's exposure to marketing but also the direct user.
Is this the world of virtual marketing, shrinking the Sims gap into something more real? Is it a game? No. Is it a marketing opportunity? Sure.
SecondLife is not easy to use. It's complex. And requires a powerful personal computer in free memory and processing space to use it. It reportedly has many problems getting past office firewalls (which may be a good thing for company productivity rates). Those challenges bring on the gamers who want to "figure it out" and learn the system so they can beat it. And yet, it is not a game, it's an evolving experience.
For users, it's just a place you go to do whatever you want to do. For marketers, SecondLife may be more than just good PR and increased visibility. It really may represent an fresh alternative vision for how to interact with information, communicate over the Internet...and make the virtual world even more real.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Monday, November 13, 2006,
- At 4:24 PM, NYCA said...
Chris... I love your blog! Second Life appears to be the first online community that has seen bit media outlets and big advertisers as early adopters. No more wait-and-see out there. It remains to be seen, I think, whether this virtual property is real. For now, it's for people with a heck of a lot of time on their virtual hands. Will the regular guy with an AOL account and a VCR blinking 00:00, get there?
Michelle Edelman is director of strategy at NYCA, a full-service marketing agency that grows businesses with inspired ideas. To find out how NYCA can grow your business, log on to www.nyca.com.