Is Virtual World Marketing Just A Fad?

    March 28, 2007

Anyone believing that online worlds like Second Life have reached the point of saturation had better take a second look at the marketing climate. Current trends point toward even more growth and expansion into virtual environments as the list of Fortune 500 companies launching operations in these online words continues to increase.

Key methods of effective marketing center around reaching particular demographics in new and relevant ways, developing/increasing brand awareness, and generating appeal for consumers. Looking to virtual worlds as a new platform is only a natural extension of these fundamental philosophies.

In fact, companies are adopting virtual world marketing at an increasing rate. There’s so much hype surrounding the idea that an entire conference series has been launched just for marketers looking to develop presence within these online environments. The Virtual Worlds 2007 conference and expo is taking place this week in New York.

Here’s a rundown of some of the key players at VW07:

VW07 gives you an inside look at the Virtual Worlds activities of MTV, Disney, AOL, Pontiac, Nickelodeon, Leo Burnett, Sundance Channel, GSD&M, IBM and other major brands.  In addition you’ll gain exclusive insight into a variety of Virtual Worlds platforms including Second Life,, Multiverse, Forterra Systems, Whyville, ProtonMedia, Entropia Universe, Habbo, Areae and more.

Of course, there are naysayers that would question whether or not virtual world marketing is a medium with a legitimate future. Others wonder how actual results can be gauged from such efforts.  

This excerpt from a Valleywag piece offers a bit of criticism to those who have set up shop in virtual words such as Second Life:

Memo to IBM, HR Block, Coldwell Banker and all the other blue-chip companies who’ve been bamboozled into creating a Second Life presence: it isn’t that your campaigns are lacking in creativity; it’s that the freaks and adolescent pranksters of Second Life are the most inappropriate marketing targets imaginable. Just learn to say: it’s not me, it’s you.

Whether or not the process is as effective as marketers would like is an issue that can be questioned. What can’t be questioned, however, is the exponential rate at which virtual words are popping up all across the Internet. And as these worlds become populated, marketers are going to be faced with all sorts of new potential audiences to showcase their particular brands.