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Internet trends: marketing research & predictions

Leading your life in second worlds

October 29th, 2007 by

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Latest report from comScore (see graph) reveals that the second world concept is fully dominated by websites dedicated to kids. It seems that kids unlike adults are very good partners to the idea of alternative identities and cultures. I think kids perceive second worlds as games platforms which offer some more reality features.
For adults second world’s concept takes an opposite direction. It provides a visualized experience with almost no resemblance to your reality: you can fly all around, change customs as you desire, and meet unexpected partners to travel with. It offers designers a rich playground to construct on. It offers marketers a chance to provide their consumers with an innovative experience with their brand. Once it will combine an option to take your avatar (takes a while to build one) with you where ever you go, it might give you good reason to put efforts in one.
That been said, I think many of you would agree that second worlds do hold a great potential but still something seems to be missing. To understand why this potential is yet to be fulfilled, let us view second worlds through social networks and consumers oriented platforms.

Second worlds as social networks:
While most online adults are highly aware of Second Life, I wonder what “real” values it can offer them. Current online interactions serve adults as an alternative communication models. Social networks are getting stronger and stronger, providing new opportunities for friendships one can not create off line. It is easy for grownups to conceptualize platforms which can provide the real “you” with endless communications opportunities. To serve as social networks, Second worlds need to carry some real grounds for adults to connect with. It should provide an easy bridge to cross between worlds. Downloading software (as required in Second Life) isn’t my idea for a bridge easy to be crossed.

Second world for marketers:

Leading companies use second worlds as a way to promote sales while masking their intention. Shopping in second worlds insures an experience you can not provide in amazon. But will consumers participate?
Online shopping platforms provides the consumer with an option that lacked offline: being able conduct a well organized, rational shopping which includes product and price comparison, combined with product information and consumer reviews.
Will consumers give up it all up for an experience?
Fact is, marketers who had rushed to establish a presence in the three-dimensional online computer game are beginning to look elsewhere. That’s another bridge needed to be developed: providing consumers with a virtual experience that will eventually meet consumer habits. As to advertising on second worlds – advertisers should learn how to interact without interfering.  

Bottom line:
Second worlds platform are great playgrounds. For them to reach real success, they need to be reminded what we adults do online.

graph: ComScore – September 07

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