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‘A strikingly fresh approach to real world advertising in Second Life’

It’s great to see some coverage of our recent L’Oreal Paris campaign over on the New World Notes blog.

Our campaign for L’Oreal Paris ends this week (so get your skins before they go!) and has clearly demonstrated the benefits of thinking ‘resident-centric’ as opposed to ‘island-centric’ in terms of an overall marketing strategy. Rather than build a dedicated island or take a sampling approach to communicating the campaign, our concept has highlighted new ways of virtual world marketing (No brand is an island). Quoting from New World Notes:

‘Up to now, the standard practice has been to create and launch an SL site fully branded with the real world advertiser’s logos and trademarks. Here, instead, the client’s product is subtly (and playfully) introduced into an already popular site.’

This campaign can be broken down into two key elements:

1. We partnered with existing retailers who stocked the make-up skins alongside their own products (mirroring real-world strategy).

2. To create a link between the real and virtual world we chose the Greenies Kitchen to host a supersized handbag and selected cosmetic items.

On an overall basis, we’ve managed to leverage the brand equity of L’Oreal Paris in a subtle yet effective way, with a ‘pull’ mechanic as opposed to ‘pushing’ the product or messaging to residents. And thinking more holistically, do people (residents) want to experience branded environments (islands) from real-world brands or do they want products and services that they can actually use and enjoy?

New World Notes picks up on another aspect of the campaign – the communication element…

‘…without much fanfare, cosmetics giant L’Oreal Paris had become part of the Greenies universe’

We specifically decided not to fanfare and press release the entrance of L’Oreal Paris into Second Life. That wasn’t what the campaign was about as our focus was on creating relationships (via the skins) with the residents.

In terms of summarising the campaign, Rightasrain Rimbaud comments:

‘So now L’Oreal has gained credibility with many, many early adopters who will share a view on them as being modern, hip and appealing to a dynamic audience.’

Exactly what we were hoping for.


21 Feb

Virtual world competition and Second Life’s secret weapon

Does Second Life have any competitors? There and Kaneva maybe? HiPihi and Multiverse perhaps. And what about worlds entering earlier beta or in development – Twinity, Smallwords and even the Singapore Virtual World project? It would also be churlish to ignore Google Earth et al as well.First let’s break-out some of the attributes of SL….


  1. RMT economy
  2. Persistent world
  3. 3-level user-generated content (avatar,objects, environment)


The worlds listed above all have elements of SL attributes and at first glance could be competitors to SL. But just because they’re in the same space doesn’t mean that strictly speaking they are competitors, due to factors such as age ranges and activities taking place inside them.


When considering competitive rivalry in virtual worlds, the ‘Threat of Substitutes‘ methodology applies when assessing competition between worlds either live or in development. This methodology takes into account factors such as switching costs, perceived differentation, trade-off and price elasticity.But what about the Threat of New Entrants?


Looking at this graph assessing total registered accounts across virtual worlds, it’s pretty clear to see that Second Life doesn’t have much competition in the late 20’s – early 30s’s age range.The door is open for competitors to come in then surely. And, I’m also sure there’s a few stealth companies and VC’s looking to penetrate this marketplace and rival Second Life. And that’s all good. Business in business after all.


Threat of new Entrant methodology takes into account areas such as Access to Inputs, Economies of Scale, Capital Requirements and Brand Identify as issues likely to provide barriers to entry. But all these hurdles can be overcome with nous, finance and expertise.So, Second Life is watching over it’s back then? Of course. Continue reading →

The scale of content creation in IMVU

Second Life has a broad range of different virtual items available for residents. And in terms of overall quantities, has over 326,000 different items promoted on SL Exchange. Not bad.

But, if you think that’s impressive, take a look at IMVU…..

The graph below shows a break down of the 1.17 MILLION items available for avatar and room (basically the crux of the IMVU environment) customisation – a marketplace over 3.5 times larger than SL.

Almost half (48.9%) of items on IMVU are clothing related, compared to third (34.7%) in Second Life. Peeling back the layers in the clothing category, the graph below shows Female items – the dominant category.

Continue reading →

20 Feb

I thought so. Emotiv developing VW brain controls


The BBC technology section reports today that US/Australian company Emotiv is developing a neuro-headset which interprets the interaction of neurons, enabling avatar control via the brain.

Tan Le, president of US/Australian firm Emotiv said:

‘It picks up electrical activity from the brain and sends wireless signals to a computer. It allows the user to manipulate a game or virtual environment naturally and intuitively.’

The headset is scheduled for launch later this year at a $299 price point. IWOOT.

19 Feb

‘Brand-holding’ the orientation process

Virtual Research

The first few steps into a virtual world can be a very daunting experience for the following reasons:


  1. It’s a completely unknown environment. A new place, never visited before.
  2. The interface has to be learned. How to move around, interact with the environment and communicate with others
  3. It’s lonely. Some people have no friends or acquaintances to help them.


So, the concept of having an orientation process is a very good idea. This is typically an area dedicated as the first ‘landing point’ for new avatars – think of it as walking out of the airport arrivals section.


The orientation area is the first virtual place encountered by new accounts and they are designed to quickly teach people the basics of engaging in a new world before they ‘leave the nest’ and teleport off in-world.


Up until the summer of 2007, the orientation islands in Second Life were managed directly by Linden Lab. However, in May, LL announced the ‘outsourcing’ of orientation to allow third-party organisations (real world brands) access to create their own orientation areas.


So, the idea of ‘Hand-holding’ newly created avatars switched to becoming ‘Brand-holding’.


Since the LL decision, a number of companies have decided to go down the ‘Brand-holding’ route. In support, the new account sign-up process from the Second Life website takes people straightaway to a page asking them to select one of 25 communities as the first step of registration (with the option to use LL instead).


Companies already providing the service include:

. Continue reading →

19 Feb

Going mobile with Coke


Vint Falken has a great story on her blog about a Coca-Cola campaign running in Japan on the Mobage Town platform.

Mobage Town is a mobile gaming environment with over 8m registered members and rewards users for continued engagement with the games.

Vint explains how Coke is using Mobage Town as a cross-over device from real world packaging into the branded worlds.

19 Feb

Playstation Home indicates strategic direction


Playstation Home, the Sony PS3 virtual worlds currently in beta (for a very long time) has announced the first third -party brand to be integrated into their platform.

Home sits on the PS3 and whilst one could argue non-gaming brands and organisations could benefit from being part of the world (well, small town), it’s a gaming title, Warhawk, that’s being integrated first. Viewed as a ‘glue’ to provide a socialising platform for gamers pre and post game, the inclusion of a gaming title makes a lot of sense.

From your dedicated apartment in Home, players are able to great groups, game servers etc via their virtual PSP and then teleport directly into the Warhawk game. Continue reading →

18 Feb

Playing away with Feyenoord


The NBA has done it. MLB has done it. AC Milan and Ajax have done it.

Done what?

Created presences in Second Life to promote sports and clubs in virtual worlds.


To reach out into new target markets and expand fan-bases globally.

After all, we’re already seeing this trend take place in the real world. A NFL game took place last year in London between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins – I was there, it rained, unfortunately. And there’s even talk of the Premier League playing matches overseas.

So, view these types of projects in virtual worlds as part of a wider marketing strategy to penetrate new geographical markets and tap into lucrative fan-bases overseas. The added benefit of course is the creation of an online destination for existing fans. In a way, a micro vertical world inside Second Life.

The latest team to tip their virtual toes is Dutch football club Feyenoord.

The island (designed by Slionhead) features daily news videos from the teams dedicated TC station, a fanshop with replica kits, a history room and there’s also events planned such as player meet and greets. All good stuff – let’s see how well this venue is at attracting and retaining visitors. Continue reading →

The depth of content creation in Second Life

What do people do in Second Life?

Socialise? Of course. Many people use SL to stay in touch with friends and acquaintances, in some instances purely on a virtual basis.

Explore? That too. With a landmass and population comparable to a real world city, there’s a lot of places to visit and check-out.

But what about content creation. As Linden Lab puts it, Second Life – Your World, Your Imagination, nicely sums up a key aspect of SL – the ability to create. And, it’s this aspect which demonstrates the depth and involvement related to a new type of user generated content – virtual items.

For the uninitiated, many of the items created and available for sale in SL are showcased on the SL Exchange website. SL Exchange is in a way, Ebay for Second Life products, except that none of the items are second-hand, well, not in the typical sense anyway.

Interestingly, it’s not really until you visit a site like SL Exchange, or the Electric Sheep Company version called Onrez, that you begin to get a sense of the scale of virtual creation – it’s bigger than you think.

SL Exchange lists by category items created by SL residents. In-world, these items are typically available for purchase in the stores owned by the creators. The website however, allows quick and easy access to product listings with SLurls to take potential customers directly to the purchase point.

Using data openly available on SL Exchange, a series of pie-charts have been created to assess the different product types available as at Feb 2008. The chart below shows at a top level the range of items available to purchase on SL Exchange in Feb 2008. In total, almost 326,000 items have been created and made available for purchase.

Looking at these major categories and their respective values provides a great insight into what we (avatars) consume as products in a virtual world – what we want – what we need. The largest category is Apparel, accounting for almost 35% of total items. This equates to over 113,000 items.

Now, although this data is based on supply of products as opposed to demand, manufacturers (be it virtual or otherwise) don’t make things unless they think they can sell them, so what conclusion can we draw here?

A major conclusion, which appears obvious, it that we all want to customise our avatars. Why? Because (just like in the real world) we care about our appearance. We want to look different or at the very least, we want to look as though we’ve given consideration to how we look. And, let’s face it, no-one wants to walk (fly or teleport) around looking like a newbie – the virtual world equivalent of a tourist. The white T-shirt and jeans look might have worked for Nick Kamen in the 1980’s Levis commercial but unfortunately doesn’t cut the cloth for the avatars of today. However, maybe Levis’ missed a trick by not supplying (branded) jeans on orientation island for new avatars ;)

Sure, there’s more than one look available per sex when a new account is created (there’s six in total), but that’s still pretty limited, hence the popularity of clothing. But in the context of apparel creations in SL, as shown below in the chart showing the breakdown of items within the Apparel section, the focus here should be on womens clothing as opposed to mens. Continue reading →

14 Feb

Thursday vote: Should Ad Farms be banned from SL?


This week Linden Lab took steps to start closing down Ad Farms in Second Life. You can read the LL blog post about this here.

But what do you think? Should they be banned? Are they a nuisance or an inevitable feature of virtual worlds such as SL?

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