What Interoperability means for Marketers. Part 1
The road to Interoperability is going to be bumpy. But ultimately, totally necessary for the widespread adoption and second phase of virtual worlds. This series of posts is going to fully explore the marketing implications of Interoperability.
Firstly, Interoperability is annoyingly difficult to spell and write not to mention a tongue-twister, so I hereby shorten it to IOB.
Secondly, if you’re saying to yourself Interoperwhat?, then here’s a definition….
IOB is the term used to explain how an avatar can move (teleport) from one virtual world to another. So for example, you’re logged into Second Life and on-demand you can effortlessly teleport into There taking your avatar with you. This is the What.
I’m not going to discuss the How or the Who (too much). This isn’t the platform for the technical aspects of IOB. Companies like IBM, Cisco and Linden Lab are making the first small steps in discussing how to make IOB possible.
More importantly, from a marketing perspective, the How isn’t actually of interest. The fact that one day it will be made possible is of interest, hence why this series of posts is being written.
The When of this concept is worth discussing. And there’s several factors in play here. Firstly, for IOB to work, you need to have more than one participating virtual world. Taking older demographic worlds as an example, we only currently have a handful in existence, with a few more in development. This may in fact slow down the development of IOB as fundamental changes in how these worlds function may be required prior to implementation.
Also, the investment costs required for IOB may be at present prohibitive in relation to the current populations of virtual worlds. Although we’re through the first watershed in terms of adoption and numbers are going north, for IOB to be worthwhile, realistically a user base of 50m adult residents is desirable. Somewhat ironically in this context, the availability of IOB would actually stimulate growth in virtual worlds. So, a slight Catch 22 scenario.
Of course, virtual worlds such as Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel and Whyville already have larger populations than adult worlds, so perhaps the catalyst for IOB will be driven from these worlds rather than the likes of Second Life.
In terms of when IOB will happen, a timeframe of the next three years is a good place to start.
The Why factor is the element of most interest to marketers and in this series of posts the following areas will be explored and explained:
- Avatar appearance and the experience of moving from one world to another
- The key marketing benefits and opportunities presented by IOB
- The brand management implications of multiple world presence
- Messaging and tone adjustments for multiple world campaigns
- The media planning landscape of multiple worlds
- Competition and brand engagement implications
- Concept creation and cost management across multiple worlds
- Obtaining, comparing and benchmarking marketing activity