Here’s the thing. I’m not knocking Second Life. I get it, I like it and used to use it. And, I see future potential for the 3D web model. But as I suspected and wrote about quite a while ago, without hardcore results and a translation to bottom-line business objectives, it would fail to carry it’s marketing-darling momentum on hype alone. And, marketers would lose interest.
Please read carefully. I said it would fail to carry it’s forward momentum. It was not sustainable on that front. And, I seem to be in good company with this viewpoint. This does not mean I am trashing SL, I’m just pointing out how it is like a Cabbage Patch kid. One Christmas people are killing for them, next one they are overflowing in the $2 bin.
Well folks, close to 60% of marketers who were polled at the NYC Advertising Age Digital Conferenced agreed that it was the most over-hyped new media of 2007.
According to Steve Rubel “Second Life has become a quagmire for marketers”. I think he is right in more than just a few SL examples (but not necessarily all).
Read the Ad Age Article Second Life Voted Last Year’s Most Over-hyped Trend. And read my previous posts here and here. And here .
BBC, Best Practices, Blog, British Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Marketing Association, CMA, Design, Design and Usability, Feedback, Marketing, Steve Rubel, Twitter, Usability, Web 2.0, Web Design, Web Site
I’m already a huge fan of BBC (the documentaries and history programs are a personal obsession) and am rapidly increasing my brand fanaticism as I dive into their newly redesigned site. So far I like what I see – a lot.
The approach for the new site design was crafted with users in mind by, go figure, involving users in the process. BBC went about actively requesting, receiving and integrating ideas while in the Beta phase. The BBC Internet Blog explains the open source nature of their redesign process. The blog itself added a nice dimension of communication around the project and undoubtedly generated more interest and credibility along the way. The new BBC home page is now live and I encourage you to take a look and play with it.
While they are not the first large company to adopt a user input/feedback mechanism and model, it is reassuring to see a globally known and respected brand open up this way. This is an approach my team at Scotiabank took with the launch of MyVault last year and, although ours differed in terms of being a private beta invite for users, it was a phenomenal opportunity to learn from the community and deliver a superior product and experience at the end of the day.
Quite timely as this will make for a good discussion at tonight’s Canadian Marketing Association‘s eMarketing Professional Certificate Course. The session is all about Web Site Best Practices, Design and Usability.
Hat Tip to Steve Rubel – picked via Twitter.
UPDATE HERE RE: VIDEO
Everyone else has posted this video, so I suppose I can hop on the the Bubble Band Wagon and show it here too. Are we headed for a consolidation or collapse? I’m no fortune teller, but I seem to recall a few words of warning on this subject in the past.
NEW VIDEO HERE:
Hat tip to Mitch Joel of Twist Image and Six Pixels Of Separation where I first found it.
Many clients are users of the GMOOT. It stands for “Get Me One Of Those”. Scott Donaton of Advertising Age coined the term that is, unfortunately enough, not a rare phenomenon in practice. While the notion of a “GMOOT” syndrome is not new, we are seeing more and more of it in digital as the marketplace grapples with accelerated growth and transformational change.
Look no further than the explosion of contests where marketers attempt to exploit Consumer Generated Content with lame calls-to-action like “make us a commercial” or “submit your kooky video extolling our product” (this whole CGC thing is itself another post ). GMOOT can be overheard in boardrooms when the agency is asked to “go create a viral marketing campaign”, “start a blog” or, “build a community”.
“It’s a phenomenon that helps explain why there are so many lousy viral videos and half-assed new-media initiatives out there. They’re not the end result of a real strategy, but are done for the sake of doing something because . . . well, because everyone else is.”
Steve Rubel of Micro-Persuasion pointed out that the gold rush in Second Life may have been nothing more than GMOOT in action. And Todd Defren of PR Squared (and others) weighed in too. My prediction is that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg as it generates out of the misguided fear of missing an opportunity to look cool or “leading edge”.
If there were ever a time when clients need to look deeper into all of the options presented by new media and the evolving digital world, it is now. However, to combat the GMOOT you need to get involved by getting involved. By that I mean involvement on a personal level before the brand level. Be come a lurker and/or an active participant. You can’t differentiate by simply doing what others are doing from the outside looking in.
Clients need to work harder than ever to avoid the knee-jerk response that leads to a “get me one of those” discussion. Another way to state the case here is to know what you want and what you are asking for. Assess and investigate the landscape by looking at each individual area as an opportunity to research how individuals are using it. Interact within unique eco-systems and gain a deeper understanding of potential fit. You my end up determining it is not for you, but at least you will know and be able to articulate the case.
And, the agency owns a big part of the responsibility here too. They need to take the keys out of client’s hands when they’ve had too much GMOOT spiked Kool-Aid and want to get in the driver’s seat. Agencies with well dressed “yes men” can only lead to trouble. Clients require strategic insight and the right amount of push back when appropriate. And, to know the difference in terms of listening to what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear.
Don’t get me wrong. There are huge opportunities and real business applications in these areas. The real issue is how to go about it properly and avoid being caught up in the storm, using tactic after tactic with no strategy.
Two items I came across today were interesting to me because I have been thinking along the same lines. While I am a true fan of both Second Life and Twitter and think the potential for business is unquestionably there, I have been taking time to consider what has been going on. It is not limited to these two examples, but they serve up the points well.
First, this article from WIRED on How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life. While it did not reveal anything drastic or new, it looked at the situation with a somewhat sobering viewpoint.
Then, there was this post titled Stupid Question: When *WILL* Having A Business Plan Matter? from Tony Hung over at Deep Jive Interests. Tony raises a great point about the lack of an underlying business plan to generate profit.
If we take anything from the above examples, it is that we can’t get caught inside the irrational-exuberance storm all over again. Yes, we get that Second Life is not about reach and that experimentation is the cornerstone of tomorrow’s success. We understand Twitter is an addictive little platform, connecting people in new ways and attracting loyal followers by the thousands. Both are representative of a the giant leap forward in how we think about where the internet is reshaping our lives and businesses.
In my mind they are strong catalysts for marketers to image new ways of communicating and developing new core audiences for their brands. But are these two properties themselves the next big thing, or are they the forerunners of what could be? Twitter and Second Life (along with others in the space) are getting a lot of attention and buzz with Fortune 500 companies and new sources of capital getting on board. While that may seem great, one must remain concerned that without solid foundations, structures tend to collapse.
Ultimately, I fear a scenario where those brands or investors who have not realized immediate success from these areas simply bail out. The phenomenon they hoped to be a part of is unrealized in the ways they expected or were promised. They lose patience and depart, fast and furious. In doing so, they cause others to follow them and speak of the experience in unflattering ways.
To a certain extent, a cull is necessary. But within that culling process there is certain potential to breed a new kind of chatter or hype. Hype about how new media and virtual worlds etc. were all just hype in the first place. Such talk would devalue what we know is really going on here.
When malcontents talk of ineffectiveness in Web 2.0 as they chase trends without strategic underpinnings, industry growth risks being stunted and true potential will be left sitting on the table while a few well-heeled folks make out like bandits. The big implication if sentiment swings the wrong way is that marketers and brands in this space will fight an uphill battle for legitimacy all over again. Hello 2000 A.D.
The unfortunate part is that those who have already delivered in the digital space are most likely to take a hit. In other words, those of us who have benefited from applying the proper fundamentals in digital channels may get caught up in a downside we cannot control. This is not unlike how everyone has to get out of the pool when just one kid pisses in it. No fun. (Remember Bill Murray in Caddyshack cleaning the pool?)
Or, maybe that is the difference today in 2007. Maybe we should not worry about digital losing its groove again. We’ve come too far for that to happen all over again.
I say all this because, for those not paying attention, we still live in a capitalist world where (for the most part) businesses are grown on their ability to take great ideas (or even not so great ideas) and turn them into reliable profit streams. I know I may sound like an old economy fart who is kicking back smoking a corncob pipe when I say we need caution and “steady as she goes” navigation as Web 2.0 businesses either prove themselves, or don’t.
At this stage of the game, fundamentals need to be way more important then they have been or seem to be. Otherwise, it might take an awfully long time and a bumpy road ahead to show where the true value lies.
I love stuff like this. Found via Joseph Jaffe who found it via DavidH
If I were 17 again, I wonder if this would be on the wall in my room at Mom & Dad’s in place of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin? As I remember the decor nightmare that was once my room, I think I just came up with a new idea for a Home and Garden TV show; Trading Spaces – Teenagers Rooms.