Second Life Has Trouble Getting Second Looks

Ann All

We've blogged before about the Internet's tendency to shorten attention spans, with many experts noting that folks reared on video games and the Internet absorb information in ways dramatically different from people who grew up without such digital distractions.


These so-called "digital natives" present an especially keen challenge to the advertising industry, which is trying to reach them by flooding YouTube with adverts and otherwise invading their digital turf.


So perhaps it's not too surprising that the trend of companies creating "islands" and other promotional outposts in the online Second Life community appears to be ending before it ever really caught on, notes Tech Digest blogger Stuart Dredge.


Dredge links to a Los Angeles Times article that mentions largely empty Second Life storefronts for Best Buy, Dell and American Apparel, among other companies.


Dredge obviously shares our cynical streak, as he speculates that lots of companies may have been more interested in garnering quick hits of media attention than in long-term marketing strategies with their forays into Second Life.


Companies aren't the only ones with a waning interest in Second Life. According to the LA Times article, the population of active avatars declined by 2.5 percent between May and June, and the volume of U.S. money changing hands in the virtual world also is falling.


And just as social networking site MySpace faces competition from Facebook and scores of others, the LA Times article says companies are exploring other virtual universes. Interestingly, IBM, which has been one of Second Life's biggest boosters, is now one of those looking at other environments, including There and Entropia Universe.


The LA Times article also notes that Sun, another prominent proponent of Second Life, recently had no upcoming events on its virtual schedule.


Yet companies don't appear ready to completely write off Second Life's possible business uses. Cisco, for instance, uses Second Life for meetings, customer education and training. The networking giant is also a member of the Second Life Business Council, a group of enterprises that use Second Life for business purposes.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 17, 2007 5:43 PM Ecocandle Ecocandle  says:
I believe that the space of Second Life will continue to grow and learn as it does so. The point about RL company Islands being mostly empty is a valid one. My company recently launched the IWOOT Island, for London etailer IWOOT. The purpose of the Island is to sell real life products through Second Life, using the SL currency of Lindens. While we don't staff it 24 hour/ day, we have been making an effort to be there a large portion of the day, to answer questions and help people understand the different products and how to buy them. The technology is still very new, the user interface is still not the best, but the passion that active residents (currently numbering around 495,000) have for a 3D internet, will help Linden Labs move forward. But that being said, if a competitor does create a platform that is similar, but superior to SL, then it will definitely get the attention of the SL content developers. So I guess we will just have to keep watching the numbers and see where it goes from here.ThanksEcocandle RielRiel Life Productions Reply
Jul 18, 2007 9:48 AM Trevor Trevor  says:
I think that consumers are finally realizing that Second Life is no different than many other avatar-based social communities that have existed for many years now. The only difference between SL and others is marketing. Other than that, they are highly inefficient methods of communicating, especially at a commercial level. Note to corporations: leave the avatars to game players who like Sims. Reply
Jul 18, 2007 6:28 PM Navillus Batra Navillus Batra  says:
I am glad that the first wave hype cycle is coming to an end. Companies that jumped on the Second Life bandwagon for the real life media coverage can step aside, and we can start to see innovation that takes advantage of the amazing new media capabilities of the 3D Internet. We are still in an early development stage for the technology, and I am not even arguing that Second Life is a guarantee winner, who knows what tomorrow will bring. I am saying that the 3D Internet is here to stay, and unlike "many other avatar-based social communities that have existed for many years now" Second Life is the first that has a real chance of going the distance. Linden Labs is the first 3D Internet provider to consistently make business and technical decisions that provide a firm foundation for a permanent solution. They leave IP rights to the in world creators, try not to regulate content unless legally obligated, provide extensive access to API through a scripting language, and open sourced their client side interface. Navillusi3D inc. Reply
Jul 18, 2007 7:20 PM Bob Sutor Bob Sutor  says:
Just as there are very many websites and ISPs, there will be many virtual worlds. People will set up up shop in the one that works best for them and their customers, but you should be able to teleport among them as necessary to find what you need. That is, I think it is a mistake to think that there will be one uber virtual world that everyone will go to. I discuss some scenarios in my blog at http://www.sutor.com/newsite/blog-open/?p=1656 Reply
Jul 19, 2007 3:22 PM Dr. Michael E. Scheuermann Dr. Michael E. Scheuermann  says:
Folks -I had a very bad experience with Second Life, after determining that I failed to see the educational value of the application, in general. I just did not know what to do with it, if it was merely "edutainment" for students, or, if there could be, indeed, some pedagogical impetus for exploring further, i.e., giving it "a second look."I paid extra money to upgrade my SL presence. It worked fine on my workplace computer and at home. Then, after some SL internal software upgrades, it failed to work on EITHER machine.After going back-and-forth with their tech side, we could not resolve the issues and I simply asked for my money back. They refused on several occasions and I am in the process of reporting them to the BBB folks along with my credit card company. Nothing would move them, so, regardless of whether SL deserves "a second look" or not - I will not subject any of my graduate students to this application nor recommend it to the nearly 30K end users of our LMS that my team and I support.M.E.S.7-19-07Philadelphia Reply
Jul 26, 2007 2:05 PM nic mitham nic mitham  says:
My thoughts on the numerous comments about brands leaving Second Life.Firstly, remember that in many ways, Second Life (and other virtual worlds) is just another marketing channel, albeit with unique characteristics.When companies run marketing campaigns on other channels (such as TV, radio or print) and the campaign fails to deliver the desired level of response, one of two things happen:1. The creative concept is critised as not being appropriate or good enough. In other words it did not resonate enough with the target audience or deliver the right messages.2. Expectations were too high in the first place. Either because they were not correctly analysed or the channel has a different set of metrics.You rarely hear about the media channel being critised as being incorrect. Some brands have run campaigns in Second Life and the platform has been critised with very little commentary on the quality of the actual concept or the metrics being used to assess the success.The concept of media planning in Second Life (understanding the attributes of the channel audience - what motivates them - what they want - what the platform can deliver) has been overlooked to a very high degree to date in Second Life. This is the area that successful virtual world campaigns should focus on. Reply

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