The following is a reprint of the Ad Nauseam column which appeared in the June 17, 2008 edition of the Metaverse Messenger
It’s time to recap (from the French, meaning: “Put your hat back on”).
We started with our product, a new line of furry avatars. We then identified the difference between “audience” (furries and the furry-curious) and “reach” (the number of furries and furry-curious who will actually see our ad).
What we don’t have yet is an ad.
There are numerous considerations that go into designing an effective ad, and this week we’ll be looking at none of them. We’re going to skip that step in order to concentrate on a few of the options we have in actually placing an ad.
Second Life, of course, is cutting edge technology. We forget this sometimes when we compare the cartoon-like quality of the graphics in Second Life to the super-realism of games like World of Warcraft, or attend an in-world concert and spend most of our time trying to get to a seat ten meters away. (As it is written, “For where there are two or three gathered together in-world, Lag is in their midst”). But for all that, Second Life is a hi-tech, modernistic environment offering entirely new ways of marketing.
Such as sandwich boards.
Sandwich boards, of course, are two signs connected by straps at the top and worn over the shoulders of someone lacking job prospects, skills, and dignity. As far back as 1850, Punch magazine called them “enemies to progress” for anyone trying to walk the streets of London. Their 19th century origins, however, don’t necessarily mean that they can’t be effective in Second Life.
There are plenty of other reasons for that.
In First Life, the people hired to wear sandwich boards would be given certain routes to ensure that the audience was appropriate for the message. A sign advertising a local restaurant would be quite useless three miles away. Likewise, a sign promoting a real estate agency would be pretty much ignored in the city’s shanty-town.
In the Second Life version, however, sandwich boards are really a form of camping. The client pays for the signs and part of this money is used to pay the salary of those willing to wear them. But it’s an extremely mobile form of camping in which the avatars are free to roam anywhere: and where they end up may not be the ideal location for your particular message. Do you really want to advertise your furry avatars at a nightclub for vampires? There’s nothing wrong with it, of course, but how many furry vampires do you know?
Another problem comes with female avatars. In First Life a pretty woman can actually add to the value of your message. In Second Life, however, there’s a very real problem with her breasts poking through the sign. Admittedly they’ll probably draw some attention, but they also tend to obscure a good amount of the sign’s message as well as making it an object of ridicule.
Okay, so “mobile ads” aren’t looking so good, but there are still the billboards, right? One agency claims to have around 400 billboards, all located in high traffic areas. However, before running off to invest some $L8,000 a month you may want to keep in mind that each billboard cycles through a number of ads, many of which are aimed at very different audiences than yours. Furthermore, billboards are like politicians: they tend to gather in packs and clamor for attention. In one place I counted 15 advertising surfaces (some billboards, some cubes) promoting everything from sex clubs to government jobs. And remember — that wasn’t the total of all the boards at that location; just the number I could see while looking in one direction.
As for “high traffic,” more often than not it’s a euphemism for “campers.” Trying to coerce $L800 for a high-end product from people sitting on a bench for $L4 an hour isn’t the most efficient use of your advertising dollar.
And then there’s the competency of the agency with which you’re dealing. Advertising is all about communication. It’s nice to believe the people handling your account have some expertise in this area. So how much expertise do you think is to be found at the “Galaxy” agency (not its real name) whose instructions on buying an ad include this communications train-wreck: “When payed [sic], the board wil [sic] update and the adnumber you boucht [sic] is showed [sic] on the console, below that is the time thats [sic] leaved [sic] of the rented adnumber."
Make you feel confident that they know what they’re doing? Didn’t think so.
So how does one go about advertising in this Wonderland?
We’ll look at some possible answers next week.