Like Sand Through the Hour Glass …

… so are the days of our marketing lives!

I recently blogged about the upstart virtual worlds like Second Life and their potential use in advertising campaigns. Well, just like that, along comes a Wall Street Journal article about how Second Life has fallen on hard times as experimenting marketers have delayed, cut back, or just plain abandoned their involvement with the virtual world.

Not all feel that the virtual world craze is going south, however, pointing to the continuing growth of other, newer virtual reality sites. There are at least a dozen other virtual worlds out there in cyber space, and marketers are watching closely to see who is going where. The sudden explosion of these homes for one’s alter-ego has marketers struggling to keep pace with lightning fast changes in consumer preferences.

What’s happening to Second Life? Some theorize that it’s due to the need to use special software to create that alter-ego. Others feel it’s because Second Life fails to provide enough to do to keep a “resident’s” interest.

On the other hand, word comes that Microsoft has invested $240 million for a 1.6% stake in Facebook for the exclusive right to sell advertising that is targeted to the social network’s denizens. Microsoft beat out Google for this apparently highly desirable right. Astoundingly, the deal values Facebook at $15 billion (with a “b”)!

Where is it all going to end? No idea. The only thing we can know for sure is that no matter what you call it … new media, web 2.0, or even web 3.0, the internet is a tremendously exciting place to experiment. But whatever you happen to call it, it is our responsibility not to thrust it upon our clients just because it’s new, but to test constantly to see if the opportunities of the web are relevant to the targeted goals we hope to achieve.

Grant Johnson

Johnson Direct LLC


Something New Hits the Social Mix

Don’t look now, but something interesting is happening in the sprint to garner user attention through social networks. And it’s not MySpace or Facebook or any of the other well-known players in that market that appeals to web users who want to find mirror images of themselves online.

No, it’s coming from people whose names aren’t quite as new and “techie” sounding … folks like eBay and Yahoo, for instance. People with nice, familiar, “safe” sounding names. The people we’ve all been interacting with for some time now.

Now they’re adding networking, allowing their users to share their interests with others … in other words, to socialize. This is quite different from the early days of message boards. It’s the MySpace model, if you will, and it’s a brilliant idea to capture audiences of people who will be able to view their online destinations as their social networks.

I say “brilliant” because this seems an almost obvious step that could have been lost in a “can’t see the forest through the trees” oversight, albeit one that took much longer to develop than one might have thought. It’s the brave new world that looks beyond just attracting the millions of web users out there, but keeping them around to read ads and spend money. All together, that’s what marketing is all about.

But before just handing the “marketing genius of the year” award to any of our favorite oldie but goody web destinations, they’re going to need to demonstrate that they not only understand the importance of social networking, but how to make their messages relevant to the audience they hope to draw … and keep. We all know the web is a quicksilver world where users appear and disappear in a flash if nothing interests them — often never to return.

The challenge now lies in the testing and re-testing of messages and techniques that will allow eBay and others to succeed in becoming true social experiences. This one is worth watching. Stay tuned!

Grant Johnson

Johnson Direct LLC