A Powerful Opportunity
In today’s ever-shifting media landscape, it can be a complex task to find effective ways to reach your desired audience. As traditional media such as television continue to lose audience share, one venue in particular stands out for its ability to attract highly motivated audiences and for its tremendous growth potential — the 3D Internet.
Also known as virtual worlds, the 3D Internet is a powerful new way for you to reach consumers, business customers, co-workers, partners, and students. It combines the immediacy of television, the versatile content of the Web, and the relationship-building strengths of social networking sites like Facebook. Yet unlike the passive experience of television, the 3D Internet is inherently interactive and engaging. Virtual worlds provide immersive 3D experiences that replicate (and in some cases exceed) real life.
People who take part in virtual worlds stay online longer with a heightened level of interest. To take advantage of that interest, diverse businesses and organizations have claimed an early stake in this fast-growing market. They include technology leaders such as IBM, Microsoft, and Cisco, companies such as BMW, Toyota, Circuit City, Coca Cola, and Calvin Klein, and scores of universities, including Harvard, Stanford and Penn State.
The most well-known of the 40-some virtual world platforms today is Second Life. It’s “in-world” residents number in the millions. As residents, they can:
Remotely attend group meetings, training sessions, and educational classes
Engage in corporate or community events
View and manipulate statistical information and other data such as biological or chemical processes in three dimensions
Try out new products, electronic devices and gadgets
Take part in virtual commerce
Participate in brand experiences that carry over to the real world.
Indeed, practically anything than can be done in the real world can be reproduced in the 3D Internet — with the added benefit being that someone can experience it from the comfort of their home or office. The possibilities for the 3D Internet are such that Forrester Research expects that virtual worlds may approach the Web in popularity in as little as five years, while Gartner forecasts that within ten, the greatest impact on consumer purchases will come from virtual experiences.
Obstacles to Commercial Success in 3D Worlds
Advertisers, marketers and organizations have yet to capitalize on the vast potential of the 3D Internet. Factors inhibiting the commercial usability of virtual worlds include:
The limited effectiveness of traditional media techniques such as fixed-location billboards when applied to virtual worlds. In the 3D Internet, participants have complete control over where they go and what they do — and can move their avatars instantly through virtual space. What is required is a means for making content readily available to people not only at specific points, but throughout virtual worlds.
Lack of an effective way for enabling people in virtual worlds to encounter commercial content that enhances their virtual experience. Because participants have a choice in whether to interact with an offering, it is essential that it be viewed as relevant and valuable to their particular goals in the 3D Internet.
An inconsistent means for enabling in-world participants to easily interact with and access video, rich multimedia, and Web content.
The lack of a cohesive means for advertisers and content providers to receive the detailed metrics required to measure success.