Business Musings: Advertising?
With the annoncement SLforums going the way of the dinosaurs, the host of private blogs, forums and sites cropping up for product information and discussion, and the general dubious nature of searching classifieds listings and places in game, I've been pondering. The question I've been pondering is in regards to advertising. I know the classifieds section is staying open, which is awesome, but still, what about the people who don't read the forums?
I work in an marketing department IRL. I'm a graphics monkey doing ads, posters, fliers, brochures, bus ads, airport ads, etc, etc ad nausium. ( side note: Very cool blog post on making ads for SL or for anything really.)I know how advertising works in the real world, but I've always been a little mystified by it in SL. Where is the best place to get my info as a consumer, or worse yet how do I get eyeballs to see my new products?
In the past I've seen ads in SL. Normally I cruise about on the mainland or a few private islands. I've seen big floating billboards on other wise empty expanses. I've seen 'advertising networks' that claim to get your name out there. Again, roadside billboards on those infamously overpriced 16 sq/m of land of a roadside somewhere. Occasionally I saw a billboard in a mall. This was actually the way I stumbled onto Pixeldolls when I was a noob. The billboard gave me a freebee ( pants and a top I think..) as well as a landmark. One of the better advertising I've seen done. Why? Because I actually WENT there and I've been a customer of PixelDolls ever since. Thus, that ad worked, and its placement worked. Another thing I've heard more about and seems semi popular (rather than seen, I'm not a club goer so much.) is sponsorship type advertising. Donations of money or products for events at clubs, with of course the DJ and hosts plugging the store, sometimes a big graphic in the background, although its not particularly frequent it seems.
When dwell was removed, the situation for traffic vs money has been pretty dire for things like clubs since they don't make a lot generally and typically have a higher overhead for staff, prizes, and so forth. Many of the perks of having items such as camping chairs, money trees, prize chairs, dance pads were lost with dwell. Some people will laud this as a good thing. I can sort of agree in terms of abuse of those items, but in a world where noobs don't get a stipidend anymore and jobs in SL are sparce as hen's teeth, not everyone is able to build something worth selling nore are they interested in doing so. These items provide value to newbies, as well as older residents who then use that money in turn to support merchants, casinos, and other activities. Its a great circle of life. Mostly. But what happens when the free money stops? With no Dwell a lot of places that relied on it have vanished in a virtual poof of smoke.
So this is the situation, and I've been pondering and pondering. And then a digital apple hit me on the head.
I've been pondering some more attraction type stuff at my own mall to get more butts in seats as it were, and I found a moneytree that works off donation amounts rather than suffering having your wallet permadrained. It's the Wolfhaven MoneyTree if you are curious.
I put it in a fairly obscure location, which does force people to walk through the stores a bit to find it ( i have a teleport point set which is purposefully away from it). I also put out some freebees & cheapies with a landmark so that hopefully the people picking from the tree would also take a freebee or cheapie with the landmark so they would sample my stuff and get the landmark, hopefully coming back later or bringing friends. Of course, this didn't quite work as I had thought, most people ignore the samples and go strait for the cash. I'm quite sure I'm going to have to plug the meter already as it were, which also poses a dilemma in terms of getting donations into the tree. What value, aside from philanthropy, of helping out newbies does the tree provide. Well, the obvious answer is traffic. Eyeballs. Then it dawned on me. Eyeballs have value! Some of the best value in the world, as a matter of fact.
Even if the person picking from the tree is only there for 5 minutes trying to figure out how the thing works, or maybe less if they know what to do, they are going to stare at it for at least 30 seconds. Thats 30 seconds to give them a message about your business, product, or service. Most people camera around the tree to see if there is more money hiding somewhere, or to be able to click the money in it. Thats 360 degrees of advertising space! There is also the process of getting to the tree which could also support advertising. If people paid for the advertising, it would easily pay for the tree. Newbies get money, business get eyeballs. Its win win. Value for both.
This got me thinking about other similar situations. Camping chairs/mats/dance pads, etc. You've got people coming in, why isn't there a big fat ad in the middle of the huddle? properly priced it would pay for what comes out of the chairs and the advertiser gets a captive audience. Even AFK a lot of camping locations have people popping in because of traffic numbers. Those are potential eyeballs to capture.
I'm kind of surprised there isn't MORE sponsorship for clubs and the like, seeing as if the club did it right it would probably be very lucrative. Although i'm sure most clubs don't have an advertising/marketting manager on their staff for anything aside from their own needs, they don't go out and actively solicit stores for advertising inside the club.
But the bottom line is, why be an advertising 'agency' or network in SL with just big signs in the middle of nowhere with no quantifyable traffic save perhaps flybys when you can have guarunteed eyeballs on a daily basis if you plunk your ad on a moneytree or in front of some chairs. And with all the clubs, casinos and other venue's screaming for money, why didn't they think of it? And why pay money for advertising unless you are getting guarunteed eyes for your L$?
My little moneytree is going to serve as my personal advertising experiment, of which I'll post the results. If you own a business, and want to be a part of it, let me know. Otherwise I'm going to present the offer to people I know in game and see what they think.