Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 2/23/09

staticMedia Relations: The Wall Street Journal’s piece on the secrets of achieving viral video success is worth reading but I don’t think it goes deep enough into the role that media relations has to play. Very few things, especially if you’re talking about corporately-produced videos, have been successful that didn’t have an outreach component of some size or another behind them.

Virtual Worlds: The hype behind Second Life in particular and virtual worlds in general has been deflating for a while now, but now seems to be picking up some steam. The primary driver behind this shift is that many of the brands who rushed to be there after Newsweek/BusinessWeek write-ups have now realized they don’t know what they’re doing there, with the remaining ones only the companies that actually have a strategy and an audience.

Branding: The idea that a company would be able to apply for and get its own branded top-level domain name (i.e. “.deloitte” instead of “.com”) is awful in just about every conceivable way.

Brandweek’s Todd Wasserman looks at a number of branded iPhone apps and how well they’ve done.

Metrics: The “click” might not be the best measuring stick for online ads since it’s often the combination of a number of factors, especially exposure to other components in an overall campaign,, that can contribute to where and when an ad is actually clicked on. A re-thinking of the effectiveness of a holistic campaign could mean good news for online publishers willing to charge what the ad is actually worth by this judgment.

Marketers continue to push TV networks for ratings numbers specifically for their ads, not just the shows they’re embedded within. The networks, of course, aren’t thrilled about opening this can of worms since it means rates would drop, likely dramatically.

It’s not just the click that matters. By looking at how the visitor got there, what their experience has been and other metrics, marketers can make adjustments to where they place their messaging and how their site is designed for that user.

Social Networks: Much of the growth happening on social networks is coming from the over-35 demographic. That’s in large part because the under-35 demographic is pretty much tapped out in terms of growth potential. Either people in that group are already on a social network or they never will be.

Facebook is said to be considering a tax on applications for the site as well as putting someone in the position of community laison. The latter is in large part because of the latest user outcry over their terms of service.

Second Life spelled backwards is Efil Dnoces

Evian has entered Second Life, providing people with upgraded avatars via in-world vending machines.

I don’t have data on this but it seems like there’s been a shift in corporate strategies toward products in Second Life. We’ve gone from “Let’s sell” to “Let’s give away.” Companies, I think, have decided it’s better to use their brands to add value to the Second Life user experience than to try and use it as another retail outlet. Not that there aren’t plenty of people still doing it that way (Armani just opened a retail location) but now there’s some different thinking going on.

I think companies are going to see higher return on investment from things like what Evian is doing, adding something substantive to the in-world experience, than in just trying to sell, sell, sell. If there’s no cost to adopt a new avatar look, or add a t-shirt or something along those lines then brand enthusiasts or even casual fans are more likely to indulge themselves and let the brand-flag fly.

Bringing the real to Second Life

Most of the time I’m in the same camp as Ian Schafer in just not quite “getting” Second Life. I think most of that comes not from my being slow or close minded. I just don’t think I’ve seen a compelling reason to be in Second Life, either as a person or as a brand.

But one execution that I do “get” is Coca-Cola’s “Virtual Thirst” promotion in-world. Instead of creating a big, fancy store, or island that looks great in screenshots but doesn’t actually do anything, Coke is actually trying to add to the Second Life experience. Coke (and its agency crayon, which has a couple people you might have heard of working for it) worked with the SL community to create an experience that actually adds value to the community.

One of the biggest components of the project is the request for SL residents to create a “vending experience.” More specifically, people are asked to figure out how they would vend an experience. People can submit their ideas using words, pictures or video. The winner will then see his or her idea executed by some Second Life experts.

Reasons I love this program:

  • People need to be creative – always a good thing
  • Started the conversation early by using in-world testers
  • Creates something new for the environment
  • Has the potential for multiple plays – they could run this once every three months and it wouldn’t get old

You can check out Jaffe, Hobson, Chapman and crayon itself for more details but I’m definitely going to be checking out the project next time I’m in-world just to see how things are progressing.

The softer side of sharp, jagged computer designed buildings

Random thoughts, in roughly the right order, while wandering around Second Life on my way to the he newly opened Sears store.

Where am I – Oh, that’s right, Crayon.

Search for “sears” – wow, 2,400+ dwells so far

Yikes, rough teleport. Need to catch my virtual breath.

I’m not wearing a shirt.

I’m still not wearing a shirt.

Does anyone else notice how completely not wearing a shirt I am?

OK, let’s head in – cool sliding doors.

I think i’ll check out Electronics first.

So you’re delivered to the floor and then have to transition to some sort of trans-dimensional showroom in order to actually look at anything? Isn’t that a bit too much?

Ooo…someone put a .gif of a couple Japanese swords on that wall.

Have I been here long enough to count as a dwell stat yet?

Nice product descriptions on the TVs and other items.

OK, I’m going to head back out. Too lazy to wait for the elevator so I’ll just jump down.

Anything else I can do while I’m in-world? Nope, didn’t think so.

Opening up the crayon box

Unfortunately, neither Tom or I were able to make it, due to prior commitments, to the Second Life launch of crayon, the new agency founded by Joe Jaffe, Shel Holtz, Neville Hobson and CC Chapman. But that doesn’t mean others weren’t there. From the reports that Neville and Joe have put up it was quite an event.

Thankfully these guys are as good at promoting themselves through new media as they will be at promoting their clients through new media. They’ve setup an agency blog and a Flickr set documenting the launch event. They even announced the creation of crayon in a very new media friendly press release that’s complete with links, pictures to download and other goodies that make blogging the release that much easier.

The emphasis of crayon is on conversation, the reality that marketing is no longer a one way street.