Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virtual Worlds Conference II: ROI and Virtual World ports to TV

This is two of three on the vwc. See post one here. And three is here. Also check out the ever-on-it Mark Wallace’s posts on the thing.

ROI and other virtual goods: Today you don’t own the brand. You coordinate it.

ROI (return on investment) was a panel run by Adam Reuters that spoke to the aspirations, bottom lines, and anxiety of the marketing and industry people in attendance. The best response to this came in case study from Tor Myhren of Leo Burnett on Pontiac Second Life. Leo Burnett was looking for a modality to express the “democratizing speed” campaign tag line, and SL fit the profile to a T. (Let it be noted: this did not go into this looking for a virtual world experience.) A perfect storm gathered for the Pontiac use of the vw platform along three overlapping fronts: timing (the mass news media was just waking up to SL), right form for right brand (the exploitation of UCC was key to the campaign. It was the campaign), and last but not least Pointiac had nothing to lose. The Brand was not afraid of users abusing their name–they were afraid of becoming obsolete.

Goal of campaign: to be the centre of car culture in SL. Strategy: give away land to people with proposals around car culture; create “creative residencies,” build dealership, build racetrack, Donate any revenue from the venture to
EFF. What you have is a fusion-marketing scheme where the residents build the cars, which makes it hyper sticky. The “loud speaker effect” (Seth Godin) is fully mobilized. It was a strategy that totally “got” the 60/40 m/f, 33 average age, high income, highly educated constituency it addressed. Myhren’s two bottom lines can be summed up in the following. 1) virtual world use a success for brand! 2) virtual world use made no impact on sales in a direct marketing designation. He also added in his talk that marketing should get some balls, stop being in a lather around numbers––“counting clicks”––all the time, and communicate with people. Myhren’s response to the perennial media strategy tsoris vis à vis UCC or Is It Still Our Brand: “Today you don’t own the brand. You coordinate it.”

VW eats TV. TV cannot be digested

Sibley Verbeck, CEO Electric Sheep Company, lead a town-hall like session on vw and its impact on TV and vw as potential TV channels (the Real Virtual World). His take home was that TV is a powerful communication platform and that virtual worlds are NOT as of yet a broadcast medium. Nonetheless, a SL cable channel already exists. The hopefuls, marketing across-platform, understand that if we are early in the game with vws, then it is still embryonic for the output to broadcast. The content does not exist yet. Considering the recently announced CBS and ESC strategic partnership, it seems folks will be working fast and furiously to correct this.