This was planned for release on Monday… but, the blog would not cooperate… I see that Ciaran found the article and reported on it.
Once upon a time manufacturers were thinking that Second Life would be a great way to market their products. A big obstacle to marketing online is letting the potential customer see the product and decide they have to have it. A 3D world moves one closer to the being there.
The immersive nature of 3D with Oculus and other HMD devices is re-awakening those hopes and thoughts. There is potential. The site AdWeek has an article by Christopher Heine titled: How Oculus Rift Is About to Reshape Marketing Creativity.
Second Life has prominent mention in the article. What Christopher does not mention is why 3D marketing in SL failed in the first years of SL’s life.
From a web designer’s viewpoint there are some things that make SL undesirable from a marketing viewpoint. The biggest is search, Google, Yahoo, Bing… if you can’t be found using those services, there is no point to what you are doing. Next is ease of access. From Google I can search for a product, say NuWave, the induction cooking thing – way energy efficient cooking. From the search results I only need one click to be reading an article or watching a video. That is easy and that is the level of ease the new 3D world has to compete with for the marketing dollar.
If the Lab does not provide some simple easy way for search engines to search SL2 and some easy means of presenting that content with one click… the marketing idea will move on to some other world or form of 3D presentation.
You may not know that some effort was put into making SL search engine accessible. I’ve seen some of it discussed and even played with pulling up the HTML representations of regions. But, there was no point because of the mountain of obstacles a person faced trying to get from a search result to where they could see anything.
Will a user even be willing to put on a HMD for web browsing? Not today. There is not enough 3D content. So, the HMD is going to be sitting beside us as we browse the web. Is Facebook working on a fix? Some means of making transition to HMD desirable enough people will wear an HMD? If they can come up with that and web sites can easily build 3D sites then we can probably realize some of the marketing potential. Still only 40% of the worlds people can get on the Internet. That is the 40% with the money to buy, so there is marketing advantage. But, what percent of the 40% will go 3D?
We went through a 3D web phase once before. I even built a play 3D web site. For practical use in marketing it was useless. There was just too many things a user had to do to get to 3D.
I expect something better this time around. But, converting millions of web sites to 3D is not something that is going to happen overnight. So, there is going to be some time passing as we move to 3D life on the web. I am not at all sure it is going to happen.
My big consideration for SL2 marketing is what the Lab and Google will do. Google is not going to send people from a results page to a Linden signup page that sits between the user and their goal/target. Google has stated many times their goal is to quickly get people search results that get them to their interest… one click… one click and you are looking at a page you wanted.
Google Analytics has a metric called BOUNCE. It is a measure of how long a person spends on a page. If a person looks at the page, decides it is not what they wanted, and leaves the page in less than 10 seconds (that may not be the exact number) then they ‘bounced’. Search results are modified by bounce. Google servers analyze the stats and provide targets based on whether people found them ‘useful’ and stayed on the page for more than a few seconds. Thus Google improves their search results to get you what you are most likely looking for.
Can the Lab build a system such that clicking a search result will take an avatar to a location and face them in the right direction, such that they see the object of their quest? And will Google, Yahoo, and Bing cooperate?
I expect each to try to make their system proprietary. It usually takes some time for things to come to a standard that all finally adopt. Will the Lab be able to build a way that works with Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and others? Only time will tell what gets worked out and how well it works for online marketing.