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Millions Wasted in Second Life

  • Wired, Wednesday, July 25, 2007 11 AM
Second Life is officially over. The virtual world supposedly heralded a new era of online advertising, as consumers increasing adopted massively multiplayer online gaming. Fascinated by Second Life's commercial potential, marketers, news publishers, even interactive ad shops bought the hype. If you wander through Linden Lab's virtual world, you can see virtual replicas of Pontiac's cars, American Apparel stores, an NBA theme park or a Reuters news bureau.

However, as Michael Donnelly, Coca-Cola's worldwide head of interactive marketing says, you can also find yourself feeling totally alone. On a recent trip through Second Life to explore branding opportunities, Donnelly noticed, "There was nobody else around."

But he spent money anyway, creating a "Virtual Thirst Pavilion" for Coke. Indeed, all those "unique" marketing opportunities presented by Second Life have largely failed to meet the hype. Marketers have grabbed onto Second Life because it creates something tangible for them to hold onto--unlike say, user-generated content sites like MySpace, Facebook and YouTube. This is world where they can create marketing campaigns similar to those they produce offline--and nobody wanted to miss out. Unfortunately, the numbers don't support their enthusiasm: In June, there were 4 million Second Life avatars created by distinct individuals. Of those, about 1 million had logged on in the last month. In all, about 100,000 Americans enter Second Life per week

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