Advertising SL: the machinima effect

It’s been said many times that LL are pretty weak when it comes to promoting Second Life through advertising. Like their attempts at PR promotion for the platform (as opposed to the company), their approach is both lax and sporadic, rather than being proactive and focused.

When you consider that anyone with an interest in virtual worlds can barely flip a web page without hitting yet another ad for IMVU, you have to wonder at how LL can be so reticent to get out there and aggressively promote the platform on a continuous basis. Lets face it; when does SL tend to hit the headlines? Either when the Lab is facing a lawsuit (or when users are hitting each other over the head with legal claims such as the bunnies vs. horses situation) or when some erstwhile pundit is predicting the “imminent” demise / sell-off of the platform.

As readers will know, I’ve found LL’s lack of willingness to actively promote Second Life pretty frustrating over the years, and have commented on this a number of times – including quite recently.

I’m not alone in thinking this. Earlier today, Crap Mariner tweeted:

Linden Lab needs to make some ads like this for Second Life:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC6nkqGEBBw&feature=autofb

It’s super advert. It prompted me to reply:

Or #LL should work with the machinima folk for suitable ads: say a competition; top 3 promoted on YT, SL.com, etc.

Which I think got us both thinking, as Crap followed up with a blog of his own even as I set out to blog here.

Next month is Machinima Month, in which the platform’s burgeoning machinima community is encouraged to participate, and to “encourage the creation of new work, and showcase existing work to the community and beyond”. As monthly rolling event supported by the Linden Endowment of the Arts, this is an excellent move on LL’s part.

But – as I hinted at in my Tweet, why not go further? Why not have a machinima competition: the top prize(s) being the active promotion of the resultant (time-limited) videos by LL (with full credit to the originators) throughout all channels available to LL – including things like an official You Tube channel and the SL Facebook page (both of which should be used to show-off the “winning” submissions from the month Machinima event overseen by the LEA).

The competition could be free-form (limited only by time length – say no longer than 1 minute), or be defined by specific content LL wish to see covered (in-world creativity, in-world entertainment, commerce, etc.) – with these aspects acting as categories for the competition.

Integrated into a broader-based advertising campaign (why not take a leaf from IMVU’s book?), a Machinima-based advertising approach such as this would score in three ways:

  • It engages the Lab directly with a talented section of the community who are capable of producing material that promotes the finest attributes of Second Life
  • It relieves the Lab of the burden of attempting to produce something themselves, while allowing them to determine what should be used through their own advertising / promotional channels (You Tube, the SL Facebook pages, etc.)
  • It provides a clear demonstration that Second Life is a collaborative platform, where user creativity is fully supported and encouraged by the Lab.

Art is an incredibly powerful tool for promotional purposes. Let’s see LL and the community leverage the creative potential with the platform to actively promote the platform.

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8 thoughts on “Advertising SL: the machinima effect

  1. I agree totally. UWA has done similar competitions and has benefitted, as have the winning participants, but there seems to be such a lack of common sense in LL.
    Zero sponsorship of the Arts seems like such a dumb strategy.
    It’s very frustrating when you consider how much energy, time and money we have put into the platform.

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    1. There were big plans for the Linden Endowment of the Arts at one point (prior to M leaving). Whether these still hold true remains to be seen.

      I’d personally like to see Rod Humble open the doors to greater LL / user community engagement and cooperation to promote the platform – even if he needs to use a crowbar to jemmy some Lab employees through the door and into actual engagement. The community has so much to offer LL; its sad when it feels as if we’re tolerated rather than embraced.

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  2. The problem with LL subsidizing or sponsoring arts, they end up competing with their resellers in providing land for arts.

    Also, they end up having to define art and decide what is art.

    Instead of that, they should be lowering prices for all to the point where art can flourish and remain available to the customer base. Also, they should be providing better tools for promoting these items quickly and easily.

    Destination Guide and Facebook Likes is a start, but a super-dumbed down tourist viewer is needed to get people the immersive peeks and peeks to lure them in without the frustration of the full viewer experience.

    I figure that Inara’s suggestion of a contest or challenge for the customer base to make these is a good way to get a lot of content created in-world and out-world in a way that represents their talent all while on a tight budget. It also ensures that the material is being generated by people that actually use SL, as opposed to the jackasses at 80/20 or the other marketing firms/contractors the Labbies have stupidly thrown money at over the years.

    (Although a few efforts using experienced SL users have been just as ineffectively dippy, unattractive, and preaching-to-the-choir as the outsider campaigns.)

    -ls/cm

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    1. Good points all.

      We have the dumbed-down Viewer, so to speak, in the Basic mode, which does, in fairness, drive people directly to destinations where they are liable to find things going on. The problem is – as per previous posts – it’s perhaps “dumbed down” a little too much: it lacks other functionality that could have users leaping away before any real benefit has been had – and end up getting utterly frustrated with the Advanced mode of the Viewer.

      Challenges to the consumer base – with decent prizes – would help generate develop and offer opportunities for PR. LL have done this with annual awards, but something bigger and broader needs to be undertaken that can reach to a far wider audience.

      I’ve said it before – and I know you personally agree – the greatest evangelists LL have are their users; provide us with the relevant channels, and we’ll do more to promote SL to a wider audience than LL have managed in the last 5 years.

      Events? let’s have some means of promoting them more widely; stuff the SL Facebook page – right now, that’s preaching to the converted. Let’s have a Twitter tool that enables us to Tweet directly from where we are and which can embed Surls. Let us have the tools that allow those of us who don’t mind linking SL with RL to promote what is going on in SL on our Facebook pages: we’ll reach more people outside of SL who are likely to stick their noses in-world than will be had via the SL Facebook page.

      There is so much that could be done – and wouldn’t cost LL an arm and a leg to achieve. Sadly, unless Rod Humble turns the company on its head and instils some degree of hierarchical direction-giving, those within the company are going to pick and choose what they want to do, the things that need to be done will continue to go largely unaddressed.

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    2. When they first announced the LEA I asked about those of us who are already promoting the arts and how this had the potential to trample us, that has never been answered.

      However there is merit in some competitions with limited promotions and open to all, with opportunities for the arts inworld to be given more focus, the tricky part is making it feel inclusive rather than exclusive.

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      1. Inclusive is the key; which is why I feel running things *outside* of the LEA, with clearly-set criteria is better when it comes to things like promotional material for SL.

        Growing art and culture in-world is obviously a harder prospect. Under Mark Kingdon’s original proposal, the LEA did look set to trample over other people’s efforts to support and promote artistry within SL, and I think we all stood agreed on that. I’d still like to see a formal clarification as to where the LEA is heading.

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  3. I totally agree with you, SL needs some advertisement badly, but i get this feeling that there must be a rule somewhere in the core texts that founded the Lab that must say something like “Advertisement shall never be paid for”.

    Or something simmilar.

    I think LL will only start to wake up when their dominant position as the “main” SL grid will be threatened.

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