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NEW and IMPROVED advertising. It's not just for RL anymore.


As a business major with a concentration in marketing and a particular interest in advertising, I tend to take note of the various advertisements and marketing programs that flow into our everyday lives. One of the things that struck me when I first logged onto SL was the huge volume of advertisements that fill the popular and heavily commercialized areas.

Second Life is very much its own world. It has its own rules and laws, and yet it is nowhere near free from the influences of the real world. Soon after it was created, Second Life inevitably formed its own economy of sorts. Because of this, people (“businessmen” and otherwise) naturally came to see SL as a potential market for their goods and services. Advertising is not the main focus of marketing (though many people think it is), but it is probably the most easily implemented aspect of it. Thus, advertising gushed into SL just as it did into the Internet in the 90s.
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Not exactly sure what this product's purpose is.

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A more traditional ad.

I am definitely not the first person to write about advertising in Second Life. A simple Google search yields a wealth a literature on the topic. But whereas most of these articles concern the effectiveness of virtual advertising, I am more interested in the merging of two initially independent worlds and the encroachment of one world on another. I think there is a general trend illustrated by advertising in SL: invented worlds have a tendency to fuse with the worlds around them.

People usually live in several worlds. I have mentioned this in other pages of this Wiki. Many people enjoy living in RL, for example, but also enjoying spending time in the gaming world; worlds are not usually mutually exclusive. The result is that some aspects of one world are assimilated into another, or perhaps the worlds trade off. The team building and social networking aspects of RL translate into the creation of clans and friendships inside the game world.
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Places like Money Island actually rent out ad space.

The case is the same here – the common practice of advertising in RL has seeped through the Internet into SL. But for some, this merger may not be welcome. Advertising is often criticized for being intrusive and downright annoying. Advertisers try to get as much exposure for their product as possible by sticking advertisements in any and every imaginable location. This is especially true in Second Life. Because there are no material costs for putting up ads, there are more ads in SL than you can shake a stick at, and in my humble opinion, it is annoying.

It might seem odd that I am criticizing a field in which I am interested in entering, but I like to think it’s constructive. Advertisers are too focused on exposure. In excess, I think exposure can actually be detrimental to advertising. If we are constantly bombarded with advertisements, we will only get better at ignoring them. Think of pop ups. The more intrusive they become, the quicker we are to “X” them on sight. I am reminded of the shots in Brazil of the highways enclosed by shoulder-to-shoulder billboards. With so many ads, it’s easier to just ignore all of them than to look for ones that may actually be of interest. With a medium like SL that is so easy to fill with advertisements, advertisers must be careful not to overexpose themselves.
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Advertisements like this one from Lyndon Labs actually have a worthwhile message.



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and when it goes wrong

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Magic Kingdom -- a short story
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