How Madison Avenue is Waisting Millions in Second Life is a great piece by Wired that examines the boom of Fortune 500 companies within Second Life, with numerous quotes from advertising execs about their organization’s SL presence. Some choice quotes:
“Many places you go, there’s still nobody there,” he concedes. That’s certainly the case with Coke’s Virtual Thirst pavilion, where you can long linger without encountering another avatar. “But my job is to invest in things that have never been done before. So Second Life was an obvious decision.” M. Donnelly, Coca Cola exec.
“My initial impression was, ‘Don’t people have better things to do with their lives?’ Then I said, ‘Stupid! You’re not the audience.’… “I think we’ve had 1,200 visitors [since May 2007],” Stern reports. “People tell us that’s very, very good. But I can’t say we have very precise expectations. We just want to be there.”" D. Stern, Commissioner of the NBA
Of those, only about 1 million had logged on in the previous 30 days (the standard measure of Internet traffic), and barely a third of that total had bothered to drop by in the previous week. Most of those who did were from Europe or Asia, leaving a little more than 100,000 Americans per week to be targeted by US marketers.
Once you put in several hours flailing around learning how to function in Second Life, there isn’t much to do. That may explain why more than 85 percent of the avatars created have been abandoned.
“We have basically not made any sales calls,” says Sibley Verbeck, founder and CEO of the Electric Sheep Company, which has built in-world presences for such clients as AOL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, Nissan, Pontiac, and Sony BMG Music. “We would like to. But we can hardly keep up with the Fortune 500 companies that are contacting us.” S. Verbeck, CEO of Electric Sheep, SL in-world design and development firm
“The learning is now,” Jaffe says. “You are a pioneer, and with that comes first-mover advantage” â€” that chestnut from the Web 1.0 boom. And the paltry numbers? “This is not about reach anymore. This is about connecting. It’s about establishing meaningful, impactful conversations. So when people ask, ‘Why Second Life?’ I ask ‘Why not?’”
“For people who’ve grown up in analog, Second Life is not that hard to understand,” says Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo, a consulting arm of the global ad giant Publicis Groupe. “I have a store in the real world; I have a store in the virtual world.” In contrast, the kind of digital marketing that actually works requires a conceptual leap.
I highly recommend reading this article. Even though it focuses on marketing and advertising, a lot of the knowledge gains these sectors are acquiring are good lessons for educators. Especially that final quote. A quick 2-word swap, and it’s just as applicable to us:
“In contrast, the kind of education and training that actually works requires a conceptual leap.”