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Marketing To Online Avatars

  • Ad Age, Wednesday, May 31, 2006 11 AM

Harvard Business Review writer Paul Hemp says you should be marketing to virtual world-avatars, the online alter-egos of the legions of consumers who play massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). The virtual worlds he's talking about include Second Life, World of Warcraft, and the Sims, the most popular MMOGs that collectively reach tens of millions of users. Hemp notes that usage of avatar-driven worlds continues to grow and most marketers are missing out; he says avatars reveal the "hidden pieces of a person's emotional makeup" and targeting them could pay off. He goes on to say, in effect, that avatars control their rational-thinking real-world masters, forcing them to take on the characteristics of the personages they assume while they play, urging them to make decisions they wouldn't normally make. This guy is nuts; I don't know how he came to write for the Harvard Business Review, but what he says about online avatars becoming an important marketing channel is true: consumers have already shown a willingness to spend real world money in online worlds, and buying ad space in them is certainly a way to reach the 10 million-plus consumers who spend a significant portion of their free time leading these alternate lives.

 

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