Saturday, October 27, 2007

Better late than never - my notes from the virtual world conference San Jose 2007

Going to be spread over a couple of posts - i'll put in pics later

First thing - there are a ton of virtual worlds for kids - webkinz, club penquin, barbies, bratz, nictropolis, Ty Dolls, horseland
Sibley Vebleck of Electric Sheep predicted probably 40 VW for kids in 2008 - and really brutal competition between them leading to lots of failure
he thought the competition would be good tho because it would drive innovation adn enhanced user experiences, maybe new business models and ways to market

gotta thing about kid safety - make sure there's no predatory activity
- content has to fit the expectation of ht eaudience, the age level, lots of worlds don't let in R or X stuff
- give users tools to give you feedback about the brand, let them talk about what they did with the content out of world - did they buy product, see your movie...) - this is true for adult worlds as wella s kid worlds

There was a panel about advertising in virtual spaces
- audience wants to participate in media, not just consume
- advertising system kind of in chaos now - don't know where or how to reach people, how to let them participate
- no standards, data different from world to world, objectives different for each project and for each world
- one big measure tho is engagement = time spent iwth brand - people think its key and VW give that kind of engagement, people spend a long time in world and there htey can spend time playing with your brand
- VW don't sell in terms of CPM tho since smallish audiences
- another measure - impact = expeirence with brand, impact on sales, and on attitude towards the brand
- VW have to start talking the language of ad agencies and marketing cmopanies, have to start talking metrics, hours of engagement is good unless the goal is sales
- as TV audience continues to fragment, VW are another channel to reach audiences with deeply engaging intera tive experiences, not a static billboard, attitude change takes time - VW engage people over time much more than does 30 second spot
- other measures - time spent, number of steps in the environment, tshirt worn, customizable things customized, number of freebies taken - proxies for standard things like attention to message, impression (see the ad) in VW
- braod categories of measures - exposure, interaction, engagement, adoption (invention, buying), momentum, pass along (tell friends)

- organizations should set goals first - goals different for each world and each brand
- eyeballs see my brand, talk about my brand, post pictures about my brand, blog traffic as measure of mindshare
- time spent in different areas of your site and doing different functions on your site, unique visitors, visits by core demo, information about user about whether they're heavy vs light users and how big their network of friends is and whether tehy're leaders or followers, can do surveys for brand impressions

- attach brands to experiences - people go to experiences that interest them - so things need to be contextual, the more you know about users the better you can do contextual ad placement, can reach out to groups in world
- metrics not standardized - we're experimenting - IAB type standards don't work, web type banner ads and signs don't work in virtual worlds
- one measure - what did we learn that we can apply to next project, for when there are 10 mllion users in VW
- VW needs to educate ad agencies, bigger agencies trying to figure out the world and measures, brands don't know who to go to - world makers, design companies, ad agencies - don't know where to start
- world building companies spend most time building own world
- ad and design agencies develop the brand experiences to drop branded experiences in world - these experiences make people happy with the brand and with the virtual world - - so they stay in world longer

VW should be part of a campaign - messages reinforce each other, not all messages cause you to buy, some help you learn about brand, others let you market to others by wearing brand, would be cool to track users across paltforms, across messages

VW have to make it easier to buy VWs - takes time to complete project, and we need a few projects complete so we can look at numbers and outcomes, figure out what's important, develop some case studies and ideas about best practices

lots of room for independent desingers - they help bring in new clients, worlds supposedly give access to tools and demographics because the VW want more users

connection between people - that's important in VW
- different goals, different desired outcomes, different costs
- don't just go because competition isin world or because it seems cool
- costs are small compared to tv/msm - but still have to account for the costs

other measures - dwell time, activities engaged in, engagement
- send email with product sales messages for real life based on what htey did in the VW
- PR coverage for your build and for what people do iwth it, tiein with other marketing activities of the brand in RL
- example - Pontiac wanted to reach tech savvy early adopters - that's what SL did for htem - other ad $ spent on Maxim and college sports

- may be lots of other parts of hte comany that could benefit from the build to increase ROI - like consumer research,new product development --- people in world building dream cars, dream clothes --- take advantage of that
- bad ROI if world not cnvenient, doesn't give user control

- just bulidng isn't enough - bad advertisign is still bad advertising, gotta add value tothe virtualworld, enhance, add expeirences

measures - positive change in attitude, increase sales, increased traffic to website
- not just word of mouth PR - lots of things you can measure, people treat virtual brand expeirence same as traditional media expeirences - memories and attitudes don't distinguish between rl and vw

- ROI can be threatened by griefers - strong communities are self-policing - maybe amount of griefing is a measure of success (g) because only go to hassle successful sites
- ROI might come from getting more data for same budget, more sales from same budget, because of multiplication of effort
- dn't get hung up on the numbers - it's about what you can learn so you're ready when the worlds explode, get more numbers later, maybe money for VW experiments should come from R&D budget not marketing
- Pontiac started by talking to car people in SL, held car camp, learned they wanted more realistic cars, did in world research before starting, already lots of fantasy flying ufo cars, people wanted name they could recognize on their car and wanted to drive like they do in rl

No comments: