Category: virtual worlds

Interview with Joi Podgorny on the OC Report

If you haven’t, check out the interview I did with Joi on the Online Community Report.

She obviously did the hard part… providing great content!

This month’s Online Community Expert interview is with Joi Podgorny of Ludorum, Inc. Joi’s area of expertise is the post-Facebook crowd, Tweens and Children.

Joi’s Bio:
Joi has worked the past decade building and managing safe, online communities for kids, as well as developing and implementing strategies in the realms of digital production, integrated marketing, and youth interactive research with such companies as Nicktoons, YTV/Corus, ABC (Australia), Kraft/Post Cereals, Neopets, Sparktop, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Ludorum is dedicated to developing, acquiring and marketing intellectual entertainment properties, in both the new interactive distribution channels as well as classic linear TV. At Ludorum, Joi leads the integration of interactive/online strategies into Ludorum’s television, publishing and toy properties.

Next Online Community Roundtable: 8/22 @ SAP

If you are in the Bay Area, and are actively working with online communities, this event might be of interest to you.  It’s invitation-based, so please drop me an email if you are interested.

The Roundtables have been a regular, but intentionally “under the radar” gathering since July of 2005. Thats longer than BarCamp (ok, only by a month). The intention of the events is to provide an open and safe environment for community practitioners to share experiences and best practices. It’s also an excellent excuse to have a cocktail and meet other interesting people in the space.

Ground Rules:
* No sponsorships. Host organization provides space, food and beverages
* No pitches. Presentations should be about sharing experiences, having a discussion about a problem or issue you are facing, or reviewing a project or site you are working on.
* The guest list is up to Bill & George.
* Bill and/or George sets final agenda based on topic appropriateness and time available
* “Soft” NDA: No blogging, or discussion “in public” about specific presentations or content, unless the presenter gives explicit permission.

6:00 – 7:00 Networking hour.
Drinks and food will be available.

7:00 – 9:00 Presentations.
After the networking hour, we’ll share thoughts on community. We request that you bring a 1-2 slide deck to talk to. Topics can range from:

* A report back from a conference
* A new community that you have recently launched
* A feature that you are developing, or are interested in discussing
* Challenges that you are facing in developing, growing or managing your community
* Or any other topic that you feel would be appropriate and enlightening to this audience.

We try to keep the size of the group small (about 25 people) to ensure a quality group conversation. As such, we limit invitations.

Virtual Worlds: A Real Waste of Marketing Dollars?

The latest issue of Wired has a an article that takes a not so flattering view of Second Life, and of several large brands that have tried to open up shop in the virtual world. The title says it all: “How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life

One of the things you never see in Second Life is a genuine crowd — largely because the technology makes it impossible. … Created by an underfunded startup using a physics engine that’s now years out of date, Second Life is made up of thousands of disconnected “regions” (read: processors), most of which remain invisible unless you explicitly search for them by name. … And even the popular islands are never crowded, because each processor on Linden Lab’s servers can handle a maximum of only 70 avatars at a time; more than that and the service slows to a crawl, some avatars disappear, or the island simply vanishes.

The article goes on to cite several examples of failed or failing storefronts, including coke, H&R block and Toyota. The author chalks the willingness by marketers to experiment with second life to the fact that traditional marketing techniques are essentially failing.

“A terror has gripped corporate America,” says Joseph Plummer, chief research officer at the Advertising Research Foundation, an industry think tank. Plummer has been around Madison Avenue since the early ’60s, when modern advertising techniques materialized. “The simple model they all grew up with” — the 30-second spot, delivered through the mass reach of television — “is no longer working. And there are two types of people out there: a small group that’s experimenting thoughtfully, and a large group that’s trying the next thing to come through the door.”

It’s pretty easy to come up with examples of silly ideas (at least in hindsight) or poor execution. What about presences in second life that actually work? Before I left Autodesk, I was shown what I still consider the best application of the technology that I’ve seen to date. Warning: It’s a pretty modest and practical application.

Crescendo Design, an architectural firm in Wisconsin, is using SL to model their home designs, experiment with renewable energy, and walk clients through potential designs. The demo I got about a year ago just blew me away. You can screenshots of their work in SL here.

The interesting thing about Second Life residents is that they REALLY love it. I’m not sure that it’s possible for real world brands to come inworld have a meaningful interaction with the residents without changing somethign about their real world product or marketing formula (ex: coke machines in second life?!?).

What do you think? Have you seen examples of companies large or small using having success doing business in a virtual world?