The worlds biggest search engine Google is a steady money printing machine. Their search engine have, through no marketing or advertising, become so big it even gave birth to the phrase “Google it”. They simply developed a damn good product with the intention to help people find the information they are searching for and “Do not be Evil!” mentality. Their famous for attracting the some of the smartest developers, and encourage employers to use 1/5 of their working time to develop new ideas. Some of those ideas have become real products under the Google umbrella, like Google News and Gmail.
And now Google have launched their very own virtual world, Lively! As this high technology giant begin to explore virtual world (vw) medium, one can wonder, will they succeed were the today most popular VW, Second Life have failed? Through media Second Life surely seemed to be the future and next step for marketing, PR and private & corporate communication. A new platform for making business. Still the successful breakthrough never came. Instead companies invested time and money into a quite deserted or limited world. The same problems which occur for some investments in other social networkds, when companies lack the knowledge of the medium. You have to work in the right order, like when you work with SEO to increase your web traffic. Some people or compaines just focus on a few things, usually in the wrong order:
This is setting up the cart and the horse in the right order. The horse is the content that drives the cart – the links. People usually put the cart (the links), before the horse (the content).
The same principle must be applied on the business model of virtual worlds. As with every other web portal, to be an attractive marketing platform for partners and companies, you must have an audience. Big loads of visitors and traffic!!! You don’t advertise or build inside a virtual world, and then wait for the users to come. It like marketing a product that haven’t been built yet!
Virtual Worlds can be considered a extension of todays social networks. The next level of Facebook or Myspace, but in a 3D world. Here the options and possibility for interactions between players increase, and also accompanied with more complexity. One part is how the players/users can create their own stuff in the VWs. This opportunity is great, but will it really interest the average user to create their own virtual things? I’m sceptical when we talk about the average user. The most important thing for a social platform, like virtual worlds, is simplicity for the users to communicate! I believe thats the main reason people spend so much time and energy into different social networks. The success for advertising in social networks doesn’t seem to be the number 1 priority. For some companies the potentials certainly there, if they find the right networks/sites with the right audience. But I havn’t seen or read of any really successful examples.
After the big hype around Second Life and how virtual worlds were the future and next step for shopping, socializing and business (both Business2Business and Business2Consumer), the afterclap were another story. Many big companies invested much hope and money in building offices and other things in Second Life, media wrote tons of this new world. Still the userbase explosion never came. Today people and companies are more uncertain in investing time and. Still, the investments in virtual worlds doesn’t seems to decrease, not for venture capital firms. A new report show just for Q1 and Q2 of 2008, the full worth of investment in virtual worlds amounts to 354 million dollar. The knowledge and understanding for virtual worlds may have increased dramatically in recent years, which could contribute to a more careful approach towards VWs.
It will be interesting to see if Googles Lively will succeed. With the business mindes and online knowledge over at Google the possibilities are endless. Google started with a great product, then they implemented advertising. If they use this strategy here, it could work. First audience, then (maybe, if necessary) ads.