Cat’s may have nine lives but they don’t have a Second Life.
So let’s say things just aren’t exactly working out in the "real world" like you wanted them to. I mean come on "¦ life is tough. Well, what you need is a Second Life. Second Life is the latest Massively Multiplayer Online game that has spawned from the alternative reality genre of online games. Created and Managed by Linden Labs, Second Life is a virtual universe where players actually are in the process of creating the virtual world in which their personal avatars live. Nearly everything in the world of Second Life is created by the players who are playing the game.
In the virtual world of Second Life, a strange hybrid economy between the real world and the virtual world is developing. So called "residents" buy and sell land, items, and services using L$ as currency. The L$ can then be exchanged through an official currency exchange or through a number of third party currency exchange services for actual money in the real world. Crazy.
Even more fascinating is that a whole new realm of marketing has popped up around Second Life "¦ Avatar Marketing. Essentially, real world companies are marketing to residents of Second Life in their new virtual world. The Harvard Business Review and the MIT Advertising Lab have even been tracking this phenomenon. A great example of Avatar marketing can be found with the American Apparel company. American Apparel has actually opened a store in Second Life where they sell virtual clothes and hopefully develop a little real world brand equity.
There’s a little side debate brewing in the MMO community as to the actual size and growth of Second Life. According to Second Life they currently have nearly 364,000 virtual residents. That number seems probable, but our numbers are showing that last month Second Life had 86,000 unique visitors. There has been a 11% increase over the past three months.
We’ll have to watch this new Avatar Marketing thing to see where it goes, but maybe in a year we’ll be talking about search marketing as "old marketing".