Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Official Guide to Second Life: Real World Brands are Boring

Ilya Vedrasko posted a interesting slideshow presentation illustrating why (for now) to buck the corporate digerati trend of establishing a presence on Second Life.

No stranger to these topics, this guy from graduated from MIT and wrote his thesis on advertising in computer games.

Bret Treasure argues more specifically that real world brands on Second Life don't get nearly the traffic and attention as do virtual world businesses.

Both argue that its too late now (for another real life brand SL launch) to capture any traditional media buzz, and too early to actually provide ROI. Treasure further suggests the failure of traditional brands to capture in world attention has to do with their failure to clearly understand and embrace the fanciful spirit of the in-world experience. Bret writes:

The people in Second Life are having an immersive experience. One of those self-expression things. They are not in Second Life hankering for the real world.

This to me is his most provocative comment. Within SL, exploration and fluid experimentation of identity is at work. Individuals are navigating their own Avatars, some with likeness to their real-life selves, and others - probably most, with fantastic replacements. The real life self is, in most cases, protected and anonymous. One would probably approach things differently on SL, if your real life identity was known, and all your real life relationships were present.

That's probably why its harder for real life brands to be successful in Second Life. People in Second Life are not hankering for the real world, and corporate brands, almost by definition, don't want to experiment with their identity.