Lab Gab 16 summary: marketing Second Life

via Linden Lab

The 16th edition of Lab Gab was live streamed on Friday, March 6th, featuring three members of the Second Life Marketing team: Brett Linden, the Lab’s Senior Director of Marketing, Darcy Linden, Performance Marketing Manager and Strawberry Linden, who was also acting in her role as the show’s host.

The official video of the segment is available via You Tube, and the following is a summary of the key topics discussed and responses to questions. Note that this is not a full transcript or summary; I’ve tried to keep this summary to the core discussions on the Marketing Team’s work, so be sure to refer to the video as well. Also, items provided below may not all reflect the chronological order in which they were discussed, but have been grouped together where appropriate. Time stamps are provided for those wishing to jump to a specific point in the video, which is also embedded at the end of this summary.

Note that further information on the Lab’s Marketing work for Second Life can also be found in the official blog post, The Heart & Science of Second Life Marketing, which is mentioned on several occasions during the video.

Brett Linden (l) and Darcy Linden (r) joined fellow Marketing team member Strawberry Linden for the March 6th edition of Lab Gab

Marketing Team Goals for 2020


  • Continue the drive for greater user acquisition (sign-up and conversions to retained users) and grow the active user base.
  • The retention focus is also on existing users – helping to keep them engaged and feeling a part of SL’s very broad “community”.
  • Helping the Second Life economy – highlighting and encouraging creativity in Second Life and the potential the platform offers in terms of creativity and potential income generation.
  • To re-energise the Second Life brand. The platform is 17 years old – no mean feat for any technology product  / platform – but that longevity  and history means that it’s important to keep SL relevant in pop culture, the media, etc., so the fact that it is still thriving is not forgotten.

General Marketing

  • [6:44-7:43] One of the major aspects of marketing material production has been SL related videos (e.g. in-house tutorials and videos exploring different regions in SL, plus the Made in SL series).
    • These have seen a dramatic increase in the volume of available videos for people to see through various channels and many of them have been localised into other languages for ease of digestion.
    • They also feed into market segmentation and efforts by the Lab to probe what resonates with users (potential, new and established) and generate greater interest / awareness in the platform.
  • [9:05-10:22] What is the target demographic LL looks at for SL?
    • LL has done analyses of audience segmentation, communities, themes, etc., and a lot of demographic data has been gathered in respect of this.
      • There is a lot of interest in the platform from the 18-24 year age bracket.
      • Conversely, with users who have spent 1,000 hours or more in SL, the age range is much broader (18 through to 60+).
    • Given the latter point, and  that as a virtual world, SL allows people to do pretty much anything they want and be whomever they wish, the Lab focuses more on breaking age barriers, and focuses on the richness of opportunities and experiences available within the platform, rather than on specific age groups, and helping communities active within SL to grow, regardless of age, race, gender, etc.
    • [46:35-47:22] That said, campaigns that are targeted for older users are being developed.
  • [24:32-25:49] Where to SL ads go, and how are channels selected?
    • Ads go to all suitable channels across the web – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc., and more recently Twitter and other social media.
    • Videos go to You Tube and Facebook.
    • LL always willing to experiment with new channels – social media, for example, has given “very mixed results”.
    • All advertising is subject to analysis and time has been put into enhancing the tools available for doing to and which will allow LL to extend their reach even further.
    • Part of this drive also involves identifying active communities in SL that can be used as a focus for ad campaigns.
  • [27:23-28:52] and [37:50-39:48] Is SL marketing work being localised for languages other than English? Yes. The new user video tutorial series, for example, has been translated into around 8 languages.  The same is also being done with SL ads.
  • [29:02-30:29] Why don’t SL users see these ads?
    • The fact the active SL users rarely / never see on-line adverts for SL is testament to the targeted nature of the campaigns and that they are reaching the intended audience – people who are not active in SL.
    • Advertising specific to existing users (e.g. promoting events, etc), goes via different mechanisms.
    • Investment is being made in technologies and capabilities to extend SL’s reach via marketing and potential user acquisition.
    • Most tech-literate people have heard about SL, so a portion of the work is focused on piquing their curiosity to the point where they go from reading / hearing about it to actively taking a look.
    • Some of this has been geared towards encouraging former users to log-in once more.
    • Work is also focused on audiences who may not be aware of SL.
  • [32:22-35:23] What is happening with regards to more organic marketing?
    • LL wants to to curate, create or assist the SL community in strong word-of-mouth marketing, including high-quality social media content.
    • Also looking at possibly using non-paid product placement opportunities with established TV programmes and media channels to more directly pitch SL.
      • An example of this that unfortunately didn’t go ahead, was the potential for Second Life to be placed / referenced within the British-made Black Mirror anthology series.

Marketing Second Life’s Adult Content


Two core questions were asked on the subject of adult content.

  • Is there any work being done to promote adult content in Second Life, including LL working with adult content creators, bloggers, etc, plus placing ads on other adult platforms?
    • Yes, LL are cautiously looking at how to incorporate SL’s adult content into messaging. But there are major  business implications / issues associated with trying to do so.
    • For example, industry “best practices” as defined by Google, Facebook, et al, tend to be conservative / limiting in what they will allow with advertising, which can impact both how LL can promote adult content and how effective any campaign might be given the restrictions other platforms have in place vis. adult content.
    • There are also serious consequences LL have to consider if they promote adult content through other platforms in the wrong way – such as losing complete access to a mainstream channel for advertising SL as a whole.
      • [58:15-59:24] The reason SL does not have a Twitch presence is because Twitch will not countenance any risk of adult content appearing on their platform. This is something the Lab is attempting to redress via discussions with Twitch.
    • Nevertheless, LL is testing more “provocative” messaging in some of their romance related campaigns – on of the more successful of their promotional campaigns in terms of click-through and possible audience capture.
  • Will adult content be promoted alongside / as a part of major SL events such as the SL Birthday, or promoting those adult regions that are thematically landscaped, or offering adult bloggers blog roll support?
    • For those logged-in to SL, either in-world or places like the Marketplace, it is possible to opt-in to seeing information related to Adult products, places, etc. via search, through the Maturity ratings.
    • There is also a Destination Guide category for adult content, allowing for the rules on image types, etc.
    • In terms of SLB and adult content, Marketing cannot speak for the Product Operations team, but how adult content might be handled vis-a-vis SL17B is something that is on Patch Linden’s radar (see also: Lab Gab #15 summary: the Moles, Patch SL17B and more).

Increasing User Retention


  • A good part of the marketing work is not just running campaigns and hoping they will draw users, but actively monitoring campaigns – how well / poorly they perform – and carrying out a range of testing (from simple A/B testing through more complex multivariate testing) to provide direct feedback on campaigns allowing them to be constantly refined and improved.
  • Testing also encompasses all aspects of the user sign-up process, landing pages, etc., that sit behind ad campaigns (collectively the join flow that carries an interested party from an ad through the sign-up process and (hopefully) in-world).
  • This has resulted in upticks in both sign-ups and users arriving in-world.
  • Testing initiatives also extends into the active user base (e.g. the rez day e-mail campaign) to see how the Lab can more positively engage with its existing users.
  • In terms of further plans  / activities related to user retention, The Heart & Science of Second Life Marketing provides more information on what the Marketing team is and will be doing.
  • In terms of how existing users can help SL grow, the easiest, most effective way to it tell others about the platform, what you do, invite them to give it a go and be there to help them and help get them involved.
  • [25:50-27:22] Most SL ads focus on a specific genre / theme – so why don’t users following those ads go to a related sign-up process with suitable default avatars and arrive in-world at locations that reflect the theme of the ad?
    • Lab has run several experiments with community matching between ads and sign-in / arrival in-world.
    • However they are dependent on a wide range of factors (time taken to create the relevant avatar type, work with communities in-world to ensure incoming users get the support they need on arrival, resources available at the Lab to make them happen, etc.), and so they do take time to implement.
    • Currently, much of the focus at the Lab with SL is towards other areas / requirements, so such tests are currently on hold, to be picked up in the near future.
    • The aim is very much on having people to traverse a sign-up experience and arrive at an in-world location that meets their expectations based on the ad.

Additional Discussions

  • [5:17-9:04] Lucagrabcr initiated a forum thread on SL Marketing which is mentioned in the segment, with Brett specifically picking up on the idea of “spinning off” communities into their worn worlds (“Tiny World”, for example).  In particular, while making it clear this is not on  LL’s roadmap, the idea does resonate with SL possibly having the potential to offer white label services (e.g. “Tiny World, brought to you by XYZ, powered by Second Life”).
    • Offering the platform as a white label service is actually something I thought Sansar would have been ideally suited – and early in the platform’s history, Ebbe Altberg did point in that direction. Whether it was actually promoted that way, I’ve no idea. If not, then it might stand as a missed opportunity for that platform.
  • [16:02-18:55] and [30:30-32:21] Second Life has had something of a negative stigma in the media over the years. What is being done to reverse this?
    • Negative press must be responded to on many fronts. Much of what is being put out through social media, performance advertising campaigns, the video promotions, etc., will all combine to shift such negative perceptions where they occur.
    • The community plays a role in this through positive videos that are organically created by users, blogs and other resources that help present SL’s richness, etc. user generated videos are seen as particularly effective in countering trolling videos.
    • Lab is aware that more can be done to challenge perceptions and preconceptions, and again, they see telling the stories of those engaged in the platform as a means of doing this.
  • [59:28-1:00:22] Is physical world merchandise being considered as a means of helping to promote SL? Yes, but nothing to announce at this point in time, but a review of potential merchandise, vendors, etc., has been carried out.


One thought on “Lab Gab 16 summary: marketing Second Life

  1. Interesting! I didn’t even realize Second Life was still putting this much effort into marketing strategy, but it’s very cool to see. Thanks for sharing!


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