Every big brand wants to be a part of Second Life. Fashion firms, technology companies and media organisations are rushing to set up shop in Linden Labs’ virtual world faster than you can say ‘make me an avatar, no, not with a furry green todger’. Right?
Well, it seems the backlash is kicking off. The LA Times has a long article talking about how brands are starting to abandon Second Life, after lack of interest in their virtual operations.
“There’s not a compelling reason to stay,” says Bran McGuinness, VP of hotel firm Aloft, which is shutting down its SL presence, while the article also mentions empty/abandoned SL zones for Best Buy, Dell (pictured) and American Apparel.
There’s two obvious conclusions to be drawn. One is that maybe some of these brands didn’t see Second Life as a vibrant new marketing channel after all, but instead were in it for short-term PR reasons.
And two is that maybe Second Lifers just aren’t interested in interacting with brands – either because they’d rather be getting on with interacting with each other, or because the brands who’ve entered SL haven’t done anything interesting enough to be worth interacting with. Maybe the question isn’t whether brands are bored with SL, but whether Second Lifers are bored with brands…
I’m not sure how worrying a development for Second Life this is – the business model isn’t reliant on brands after all. But more concerning if you’re in charge of Linden Labs is the way brands are looking to other virtual worlds – many of which are online, rather than requiring a client application – to sink their marketing budgets into.
One thing’s for sure: any company setting up shop in Second Life now should face tougher questions about why they’re doing it, what they hope to get out of it, and how they’ll engage the world’s users. Which to be honest, is a lot better than the usual hype.
(via LA Times)