Eric Kintz of HP posts the top 10 reasons he's still not convinced about marketing in Second Life spurred on by a recent negative article in Brandweek. Several of his reasons are also my reasons why ad agencies (and so many big companies) are failing in their Internet efforts overall.
Kintz: #6. Brands are underestimating the investments required. Most brands have focused on the upfront cost (i.e buying land, Web design and creative fees), but most have not taken into account the on-going investment...."
What's Next Blog: Equally so: brands allocate 2-5 % of their budget to online, don't measure the ROI, don't follow through to tie the concepts to other mediums.
Kintz: #7. Brands are not staying true to the Second Life values. "... most brands mimic their real life experiences and value proposition in Second Life."
What's Next Blog: Substitute "Internet" for Second Life and you'll see why so many online campaigns fail.
Kintz: #8. Second Life experiences are not integrated with the overall brand experience. New Second Life ventures by leading brands still feel too much to me like PR coups vs. being truly integrated into the broader set of the brand promise and experience. How many brands have a link from their online branded presence to their Second Life presence and seamlessly connect both?
What's Next Blog: Again, substitute "Internet" for "Second Life."
The real heart of that Brandweek story:
"Second Lifers have become skeptical of marketing on the site. "They expect more creativity, more inspiration, and not vertical influence the old and traditional way of the 60-second spot,"And the same could be said of much online advertising, of Web sites, and of many blogs.
What worries me is that many companies try online marketing in a half-assed way, run traditional ads on websites and blogs, try to impose PR BS on savvy consumers, and then convince themselves that online marketing and advertising doesn't work.
To succeed on line companies have to provide content that their customers want to receive; treat customers like their equals; listen to what customers want, and give it to them. Hardly an other-worldly solution.
I agree with Kintz that SL's technology and protocols are way too complex for the average person to understand. The reason web conferencing didn't grow to its full potential and the reason SL won't be the long-term solution to the 3D Internet is that you have to download software to use them.
I attended the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference last week and heard about the many platforms now in development that will - within 5 years or less - make the Internet a total immersion 3D world.
Second Life is training wheels for what's coming, but none of it will work until marketers take the cotton out of their ears and start listening.
B.L. Ochman is a social media marketing strategist for S&P 500 companies, including McGraw Hill, IBM, Cendant, and American Greetings. She publishes What's Next Blog and Ethics Crisis, where readers can confess their worst ethics transgressions and others can rate them on a scale of one to ten. She also blogs for MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog.