Much of whether or not a business has success in the virtual world space depends on whether business comes to understand these 3 things about virtual worlds:
1. Virtual worlds are a 3D version of websites that offer a social, spatial, and experiential factor not present in today’s websites. Proof point - “The more time a consumer spends immersed in a brand, the more willing the consumer is to spend money with that brand.” - J. Walter Thompson Advertising. Today’s consumer is less influenced by company advertising and marketing, and more influenced by their experience and the experience of their peers and thus it is less about click-thru, CPM, and conversion and more about the brand interaction.
2. Many of the historical marketing metrics (such as conversion rate, click-thru rate, CPM, etc.) that are used today to evaluate online success are not (yet) applicable to virtual worlds. Solution - we must look at experiential metrics and determine the success of people spending minutes if not hours immersed in a brand. The typical banner ad creates something like 5 seconds of brand identity, while the typical website gets 4 to 12 minutes, and the typical virtual world presence gets 30 minutes plus. Anyone who has been anywhere for more than 30 minutes will most likely tell someone that they were there, thus creating a viral effect as well.
3. It requires some work to discover the way to best utilize a 3D website (which is important because if you remember correctly, we did not know at first the best way to use 2D websites, either). Solution – we must realize that you need to have brand consistency, brand education, and integrated media support (blogs, Web 2.0, etc). You also need to make your site fun and push the messaging from a direct in-your-face message to a message that delivers via the experience.