A great piece from Laura Petrecca in last Wednesday's USA Today about Second Life and how the success of the virtual economy there is starting to drive significant business interest. We've written before about the Reuters Bureau in Second Life, as well as the Ninja Tune music channel. But this article highlights a variety of interesting ventures businesses have made into the online world.
About 5% of Second Life's total "world" now is occupied by big brand names, she says. The creeping commercialism shouldn't offend anyone, she says. Players can easily move from area to area, "so they don't have to see anything they don't want to see."
Also motivating advertisers: Second Life has attracted a tech-savvy user base with an average age of 32. That's an audience increasingly hard to reach through traditional media such as TV.
One of the companies focused on here is actually one of the corporate members of the Convergence Culture Consortium, ad agency GSD&M. The agency, based in Austin, Texas, calls its location "Idea City and are proud of the business' Texas base, as opposed to Madison Avenue.
The company has created a virtual Idea City as well, which is their entry into Second Life. There are even rooms within Idea City for corporate meetings. In fact, C3ers have even been known to meet with folks from GSD&M in Second Life in lieu of having a phone conversation from time to time.
In addition to meeting space for virtual corporate discussions, there is also room for leisure activities. The article highlights in particular a basketball court for avatars to play on, as well as featured logos from various GSD&M clients. Future plans, according to a quote from Joel Greenberg in the story, are to have streaming videos of clients' ads run in the Second Life version of Idea City as well.
Joel actually blogs here for C3 on occasion. For instance, he wrote earlier this week about fair use. Back in April, Joel wrote a piece asking if there was room for a new way to plan media, particularly focusing on the "wisdom of the crowds." He has also written about "A Microsoft Primer on Creating Buzz?", "Mapping as Branding," and about a film company using the Internet for activism and his experiences at CES.
Petrecca's piece also highlights some of the challenges of the Web space, such as anti-commercialism protesters and various types of lewd activity that often happen in virtual worlds, such as cybersex and artwork many would find inappropriate or perhaps even obscene.