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


The Times They Are a Changin’

Depending on your age, some of this may be going back too far for you. But I can remember sitting on the floor of my first apartment playing Pong and being transfixed by the fascinating game taking place on the television screen. I can remember walking down the aisle at Target and gazing at a Commodore 64 sitting tantalizingly on the shelf. “Hmmm,” I thought. “Should I? Do I really need a computer? Or are they just a fad?”

I even remember watching the first video on MTV (“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles), back in the days when MTV actually played videos.

And now, suddenly, it’s today, and virtual worlds are taking hold. Destinations such as and have not just sprung up tentatively … they’ve boldly taken hold with hundreds of thousands of members who are living an unusual sort of double life. They exist in the real world, and they also live in a virtual world where they can pursue anything from business opportunities to real estate and recreation.

To some, this may sound just too far out. Virtual worlds? But to smart marketers, it should sound like opportunity. The web may be the greatest tool in marketing history, and we must investigate fully its ability to help us converse with our customers in the manner most likely to appeal to them.

Virtual worlds, then, are about relevancy. They may be the most relevant way to communicate with some segments of your audience. I urge you to look at virtual worlds and test them as measurable marketing tools. Don’t think it’s not happening already. Nissan, Evian Water, Scion, theaters and more are finding at least some of their target audiences living in virtual worlds.

The important thing is to remember that you must respect these individuals and their desire not to be bombarded with traditional advertising. The times are changing, and it you can find a way to their virtual hearts, you might find a way to success.

Grant Johnson

Johnson Direct LLC

By the way, thanks to Target for resurrecting one of my favorite songs in their commercials: “And when tomorrow is today, the bell may toll for some, but nothing can change, nothing can change, nothing can change the shape of things to come.”