Anomaly Leaves Second Life

Yes, I can announce that the Anomaly avatars have left the building … their “Company HQ” in the Tenjin sim has been vacated. Unbeknownst to many (they didn’t talk about it much) Anomaly were actually fairly early adopters of Second Life. They bought a plot (near to PSFK Island, as it ‘appens) back in 2005 I think. If they called themselves an Ad Agency, they could probably claim to be the first to have built an office in this part of the metaverse. I discussed it briefly with Anomaly partner Johnny Vulkan, who by that stage was fairly dismissive of the opportunities the virtual world offered marketers. Their only client to venture in to Second Life was Enviga (against Anomaly’s advice). Enviga eventually built a large green Enviga-drinking robot in Anomaly HQ and left it at that.

anomaly

Purple pundit Piers Fawkes of PSFK (indulge me in my aliteration) was also eventually underwhelmed by Second Life. Anomaly neighbour and virtual pioneer Piers at one stage referred to himself as a “big time property developer” and “marketing consultant” in Second Life. He was quoted some time later as saying that “Second Life [wasn’t] much good for marketers“, presumably something he had learnt from experience. That said, his (rather ramshackle looking, slightly vandalised) virtual island HQ remains.

psfk-second-life

Who else is left? Crayon’s slightly stalinist-looking and underpopulated sim (traffic count: 32) remains. Crayon claimed to be the first agency to launch in Second Life (and indeed, the launch itself was actually held there). To my knowledge Crayon’s only Second Life client engagement was Coke’s Virtual Thirst, an effort which received mixed reviews at best.

crayonville

Leo Burnett at one stage built a giant tree (replete with caged birds and apples) but they have now also departed. Their space was apparently envisioned as a place for international collaboration.

burnett-sl

BBH built a (rather bland looking) office back in 2006 – also claiming to be the “first” – and said office for the moment is still there. It actually looks fairly well maintained, if unevolved and sterile. The only evidence of client involvement is a rather large Levi’s poster.

bbh-second-life

My views on marketing through Second Life? Well, I’d start by saying “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”. There seems to be a dichotomy between those who piled in to Second Life without thinking it through particularly well (net result: lots of money spent and little to show) and those who rejected it out of hand (net result: nothing spent and nothing learned).

As with any marketing experience, success depends on objectives. Want to reach a lot of people quickly? Second Life probably isn’t for you. Want to reach and connect with tech-savvy 30-something virtual world enthusiasts (hey, someone might) then it might make sense.

Thoughts?

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Metaverse: Second Life poised to not blow for Marketers, Airforce and Army Invade, 98% Never Visit

The U.S. Air Force first began talking about a multipurpose virtual world, MyBase, back in February. The goals of the virtual world would be to recruit and inform civilians, train cadets, and help active airmen prepare for specific missions and ongoing projects. “MyBase is a set of regions dedicated to sharing the history and learning about the U.S. Air Force,” explains the sim. While the exhibits are interactive and educational, they’re definitely geared more at public outreach than internal training. Visitors can fly a virtual P51C Mustang, try a challenge course and shooting range, listen to Air Force band music, and see what military life is like. While there were automated bots on the site, no actual humans were present. There is an option for visitors, if interested, to access a website to talk to a recruiter about an Air Force career.
The U.S. Army will open up two islands in Second Life in the next 30-45 days aimed at recruiting new soldiers. This was announced at the Army Science Conference this week, which has a heavy focus on immersive technologies. The project sounds similar to the Air Force’s MyBase, which opened in Second Life yesterday. Users will find a welcome center with information and links to contact a recruiter on one island and military-themed activities like rappelling, shooting, and parachuting on the other. Completing the activities will earn users points toward free Army-branded virtual goods. Interestingly, Gen. William S. Wallace, the commander of the U.S. Army TRADOC, said that social networking has been “oversold”. Regardless, the Army remains interested as, according to Wallace, “one of the age groups of which there’s about 4MM young people that routinely interface in Second Life is the age group of the young people who we’re trying to encourage to join the military.”
A new study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project claims that a slim majority of adults in the United States now play video games, with preferred platform choices being stratified by age group. Drawing from data collected in surveys during 2007 and 2008, Pew claims that 53 percent of Americans age 18 or older play games on some kind of device — including personal computers, game consoles, and handheld devices. As a footnote, despite 9 percent of gamers (and 21 percent of teen gamers) claiming experience playing MMOs, a mere 2 percent of gamers reported entering virtual worlds like Second Life.
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Metaverse: Red Bull to be “First” Brand in Home

Red Bull has become the “first” brand in Home for the PlayStation 3, reports Brand Republic. It should probably be qualified as first consumer packaged goods brand or beverage brand, as game companies and movies have apparently already been staking out spots in the still-in-beta virtual world. But at least Red Bull is getting out of the gate early. As a part of Red Bull’s presence, though, the company has built a tropical island with aeroplane races similar to its real-world racing series. Home Director Jack Buser allages that there’s a strong interest from consumer brands in getting into the virtual world, but Sony is keeping mum on other partnerships and waiting to announce them at a future date. As an uninteresting addendum, Red Bull beat me to the first sponsorship of Wipeout back in 1996. (I was attempting to get Easy Jeans in).
sony-virtual-home-ps3
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Metaverse: Gran Turismo v Nissan, Second Life v Penises

The new “Gran Turismo” game from Sony was up against some stiff competition, so for the promotional campaign it teamed up with Nissan to help spread the word. A competition was created offering the chance for an unsung racing driver to compete against the very best. Consumers had to register for the contest on the website or via their PlayStation 3 and then complete a virtual lap of a specific racetrack, in a specific car, on their console. The best drivers were invited to compete for real on a racetrack, and the champions in those races then went head-to-head in a GT Academy in the UK. The two ultimate winners were then signed up to represent Team Nissan in the 24-hour endurance race in Dubai in January 2009.
Pay no attention to the furry avatar behind the curtain. Linden Lab has a new pitch for Second Life: it wants to be a 3D teleconferencing platform for enterprise customers. Today the company announced a new product called “Immersive Workspaces,” an area in Second Life set aside for corporate meetings. Of course, you could already do that years ago, but this new product is “a completely exclusive and secure experience, with no connectivity to the Second Life mainland.” In other words, business users can be confident no one will crash their event with a barrage of flying penises.
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Metaverse: Forbidden City, Google Ads for Games, Game Over for Second Life, Obama’s Got Game! Amazing Worlds

The only way to get a true feel for the Forbidden City, the vast moated palace built 600 years ago for China’s emperors, is to peer into its grand multi-eved halls, cross its expansive plazas and stroll through its surprisingly intimate private gardens. But for those unable to make it to central Beijing, US technology company IBM and the curators of what is now known as the Palace Museum will today unveil the next best thing: a virtual Forbidden City offering the kind of immersive and interactive online experience pioneered by multiplayer role-playing games such as Second Life. The virtual palace, accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a reasonably new computer, offers the chance to explore it in the guise of an online avatar, talk to other visitors via text messaging, join automated tours and take part in activities such as archery.
AdSense for Games delivers video ads based on intended placements, as well as image or text ads based on contextual targeting with keywords and tags supplied by developers and publishers. Advertisers are charged on a cost-per-impression or cost-per-click basis, and ad revenue is split between Google and game
developers or publishers.
Second Life, the social networking phenomenon of the past two years, may have passed its use-by date as a mass marketing tool. Two years ago, brands such as Telstra, IBM and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation joined the online game that allowed people to meet as digital “avatars” in the world created by Linden Labs.Second Life came with its own currency, people could buy land, and money earned in Second Life could even be converted to real currency. Last month, Tourism Victoria pulled the pin on an investment in the ABC’s Second Life Island, where it had built a replica of the popular Lanes precinct on the island to promote it as a tourist destination. Tourism Victoria said the investment, albeit small, was no longer worthwhile.

Obama’s In-Game Advertising
Earlier this week, Xbox Live gamer Dragunov765 posted photos of ads for Sen. Barack Obama — which purportedly appeared in a game called Burnout Paradise — in a gaming forum called Rooster Teeth
“Early Voting has Begun!” the ads proclaim alongside the image of Obama, his face framed by a halo of light. “VoteforChange.com.”

Amazing Worlds
With Headquarters in USA and Singapore, Amazing Worlds builds and maintains the 3D Online Mirror World for people to learn about places and things to do in each country/location. Founded in 2007, the company aims to work with organisations and business partners globally to build the most interactive real mirror image (3D) of the world’s interesting places for the Global Audience.

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Hipsters, GTbyCITROEN, Photomake, Gates v PC, TV Ads Work

Hipsters Will Save Our Economy

In a rather striking article this week, Forbes recognizes hipsters as possibly the one demographic group that’s still happily consuming, at least in the retail sector. The article argues that while hipsters – here very broadly defined – might not make a lot of money now, they are a huge, powerful consumer group, and marketing dollars spent to capture them now will likely pay off in the future. Not to mention the fact that, even today, retailers which cater to the “creative class” are thriving while the rest of the retail industry struggles:

The gaming world merged with reality this week at the Paris auto show with the unveiling of the GTbyCITROËN. The sportscar is the first ever car to be specifically designed to bring the virtual and real worlds together. The French car maker partnered with Polyphony Digital Inc, the creators of the Gran Turismo series to stretch their creative vision.The exterior design of the car is a modern look at a racing coupe. The concept uses sharp body lines and dynamic shapes to communicate performance and speed. In the game version the car is powered by a zero emission fuel cell and electric drivetrain. There’s no word on if the physical prototype runs. For now the ‘Citroën GT’ represents one automaker embracing the gaming world and testing out how to potentially integrate it into product development.
Photomake is a very cool web service that will translate line drawings into solid objects. Like a 2 dimensional version of Shapeways, the site makes it really easy to create unique objects. All you have to do is draw something, scan it – or even take a photo of it, upload it to the site, and in a few days you’ll have a custom item. They offer a bunch of different subsrtes including 17 different colors of acrylic, styrene and plywood. People have been making all kinds of interesting objects with photomake, like jewelery, furniture and art sculptures.

Why Microsoft’s Gates/Seinfeld Went Viral and ‘I’m a PC’ Ads Didn’t
According to Visible Measures, which charts online video viewing trends and has measured the videos associated with Microsoft’s $300 million ad campaign, the Seinfeld/Gates ads are squashing the “I’m a PC” ads by a margin of 4.3 million viral video views. Both ads had about equal video placements (about 75 each). Visible Measures points out that while the Seinfeld/Gates clips came out two weeks earlier than the “I’m a PC” ads, Seinfeld/Gates drew twice as many viewers their first week in market than the PC ads did. After two weeks in market, Visible Measures says, “Seinfeld/Gates was still collecting more than 700,000 views per day, while the ‘I’m a PC’ clips had tapered off to less than 50,000 views per day.” Why might this be? Microsoft sparked a dialogue in the Seinfeld ad that isn’t there in PC ads.

Now a neuromarketing study finds that viewers aren’t zoning out, but actually pay attention to ads when hitting their fast-forward button. “Our conclusion was that people don’t skip ads,” said Carl Marci, cofounder and CEO of Innerscope Research. “They’re just processing them differently.”

Mashups … Old Skool v New Skool

Once a nerd always a nerd I always say. (And I don’t use that term pejoratively!) Two examples of user-generated mashups … one for good old Doctor Who (recreating the lost episodes) and one from Playstation (build your own game level).

Fans Reconstruct Doctor Who’s Trashed Past

‘Though the archives destroyed the videotapes of the lost shows, the audio tracks remain. The “Beeb” offers narrated audio productions of the lost stories. In addition, the section of BBC’s website covering classic Doctor Who offers free photo novels using the old programs’ original scripts and still photographs taken during production. So, some industrious fans took it upon themselves to fill in the gaps. Borrowing the audio tracks, they merge their own visuals to reconstruct the missing story — sharing the videos freely on services such as YouTube.’

LittleBigPlanet Transforms Players Into DIY Gods
LBP, out in October for PlayStation 3 allows players to design and build their own game levels, with unique objects and challenges. Unlike the abstruse 3-D design and physics programming that most game development requires, this experience is meant to be as simple, intuitive, and addictive as the gameplay. “We’re all really into music,” says Alex Evans, cofounder of the game’s developer, Media Molecule, “and we see this as a form of jamming.” People have used the tools to create musical instruments, as well as tanks, slingshots, and gigantic monsters that make my crude effort look pathetic. (Sony used the game in lieu of Power Point at a recent press conference.) Best of all, LittleBigPlanet lets anyone upload and share their works as easily as YouTube clips.