Second Life

How The Economy Back During The Depression of 2009 Changed The World Part 8: Marketing

Posted on December 15, 2008. Filed under: advertising, Apple, consumer marketing, Mashable, RSS feed, Science Fiction, Second Life, Social Network, tv ad | Tags: , , , , , , , |

In my continuing series on the Depression of ’09, or Bush’s Collapse, as historians have come to call it, I will focus on how marketing and advertising was effected. In 2038 it’s hard to believe that only 30 years ago quotes such as “no one every got fired for doing television” and ideas like Mass Marketing weren’t ridiculed. One needs to remember that back then Social Media was used to differentiate a particular form of “online engagement”. Of course people still used the term Internet to qualify where they absorbed a particular piece of information. Most Gen A kids today are still confused by the fact that during the Gen X/Y days we received information from multiple devices with screens: one you could interact with, and one you just stared at. I won’t mention “radio” for fear of veering too off topic.

Leading up to Dep II folks used the Internet to gather data, purchase goods, and be entertained by music, vids and games. In most cases a company I’d individual would “post” media to a “web site” where users could read, click, watch, or download it. Users had very little choice on what they got, generally being given only a few options. Something was about to change all that though.

Just prior to the election of President Obama, the first of his 3 terms, several print publications (see references below for definitions) named the consumer as the Person of the Year and Marketer of the Year. The average citizen was beginning to take control of how goods and services were presented to them. Up to this point most manufacturers and service providers would build a generic product then hire marketers to create advertising campaigns to promote their product. The advertisements would, almost without exception, be focused on a wide demographic. Men: 18-45, teens: 12-22, were typical designations. Of course no one today would waste time on such a broad and incongruous grouping. Even now, at 79, I can remember being a teen, nine of us were very similar. There were jocks, studes, vocies, rich, poor, popular, geeks, etc. It still amazed me that anyone sold anything in such a broad way. It’s important to remember that back in the 20th Century and into the singles of the 21st Century, most people just accepted that they belonged to a demographic and accepted products and services as they were: Corporate America was in charge. Of course that is no longer the case: we get goods and services tailored personally to us, we brag about the cool advertising generated by our profile. Lime most of history, it is easy, in hindsight, to see the tipping point: The Attack on Pearl Harbor, the Chinese Colonization of Mars, Secretary Michelle Obama’s Global Union Initiative, etc. Bush’s Collapse changed the relationship between consumers and corporations forever.

It is unfair that the Collapse be completely blamed on George Bush, it is so named primarily because the Iraqi Folly put such a financial burden on the country, at a point when a brief financial meltdown was imminent. It took several decades of corporate greed, governmental missteps, and an economy based on speculation and Wall Street, to cause the Collapse. The “Silly President” just happened to push it over the edge.

The hardship had many unexpected consequences including the collapse of the television, radio (much different than what we consider it today), music and oil industries. The collapse of the oil industry and it’s evolution into an international conservatorship has been widely discussed and irrelevant to this story. The Big Media collapse has direct bearing though.

Citizens attention was divided in their entertainment, communications and informational options then: between a television, telephone and radio or a computer. With meager incomes most had to choose between the two. History shows they chose computers. These bulky, desktop machines were far less elegant than our current solution, yet they offered information, communication, entertainment and productivity in one package. This primitive machine had been used to market to consumers in a 19th Century manner, with 20th Century technology. A few technology advances offered the ability for social networks to begin to crop up, all separate and distinct. Very quickly more niche networks emerged, focused on specific subjects, forms of communication, and psychographics. CGTalk, Twitter, and Ning are examples of each that I was immersed in. Very quickly the populace found they had replaced one fractured interface with another, as their attention was now divided between multiple separate “sites”.

Yet the seeds of control had been sewn. Many of these sites, oddly called “networks”, offered personalization features as well as the ability to be viewed on mobile devices. Soon a demand was met: the ability to bring all of their desired content together under a universal, personalized ID, that they could interact with on any device. Early mobile and computer companies began building customized devices receiving customized information. Soon behavioral targeting was giving users information they wanted before they asked for it. Advertisers couldn’t bridge the gap. Most companies were still selling generic products using mass marketing tactics. The people demanded better. They had the power to make demands. It was easier fir a mom & pop operation to deliver customized goods, promoting them with customized messaging, easier than large companies. Product and Services industries as well as their advertisers couldn’t compete on such a micro-level. This signaled the end of marketing as it had been for decades.

Early social media proponents recognized early on that talking to one was better than shouting at a million. Advertisers and companies, in their desperation finally began to listen. An entire generation of marketers and advertisers was displaced. Their seats were filled by social media evangelists managing hundreds of non-employee brand evangelists. These weren’t just mouthpieces, they weren’t even paid! They were brand fans. It was the pyramid management system. One SoMe evangelist would invite brand loyalists, even competitive brand loyalist to try products and report on them. These loyalists in turn were followed by thousands, who, in turn, influenced millions of others.

Many companies during this time abandoned the strategy when they received negative feedback. The smart ones began to see this as positive input. It wasn’t long before companies were creating custom products for their loyalists. It was expensive. This zoo drove the desire from all consumers to have personalized products. Advertisers soon got in the act, creating customized messaging. Consumers had long given up the idea of privacy or anonymity online. Their tracked behavior, purchase history, financial background, resume, even family info now fed shared databases from which technology evolved to serve advertising unique to every recipient.

It seems odd, in this day and age, that a single add would be the basis of an entire product campaign. Teens in college, sports fans in bars, even the few that still work in offices, share their commercials as a bag of identity, as unique as a fingerprint. Just today my grand kids and I were laughing over our implant OS updates from Apple. I’m still on 10.4.2!

Who knows how personalization will effect us in the future. If I have to spend 4 hours on an airship to visit my grandkids on the West Coast, I’d like a seat that knows I have a bad back!

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Corporations Leave Second Life. We never knew you were there!

Posted on July 25, 2007. Filed under: advertising, American Apparel, Bank America, Burger King, Consumer Generated Content, consumer marketing, H&R Block, Lost, NBA, Sears, Second Life, Social Network, User Generated Content, viral marketing, Warcraft, Web 2.0, Web3.d, Wired Magazine |

I got a good laugh out of the recent Wired article stating that Second Life was officially over.
Many companies who tried to market themselves in Second Life failed and are now leaving. Coke, American Apparel, NBA, Sears, H&R Block, etc. (edit: Some of these companies aren’t leaving, just complaining that their real world strategies failed).

The problem with these companies is they try to market in it the same way they market in the real world. This is a virtual world that they know virtually nothing about. Why would an avatar want a Coke? Duh! There is no thirst in Second Life as their is no rain.

It amazes me that these companies look at a brand new technology and say, “let’s make money in it right away. If we build it they will come and spend.” Very few of the marketers who have delved into Second Life have engaged users. “Come drive my car”, okay but to get there I’m going to hop on my hovercraft or just fly. Once the novelty of driving your car for 5 minutes wears off, what else do you have to engage me? A chance to win a Pontiac to the person who creates the coolest concept car in Second Life? No? A Mercedes racing game? No? Oh, a free racing suit. Thanks. ALot of people talk about American Apparel closing it’s store. It may have been one of the first but it was also one of the worst. There was stage but no posting as to when fashions shows took place. AA clothes are for the most part non-descript. Why would it appeal to me to buy one of your plain t-shirts for my avatar? I have an alligator head and fairy wings! Not to mention that there was no staff at the store, no events, NOTHING of interest, oh, except the free 6 pack of beer on the desk (random).

One of the few real world entities that has a presence in Second Life that works is the L Word. Why? Because they’ve created locations from the set to hang out, they let Second Lifers sell their L Word-related merchandise their, they host events, there are greeters to meet you and answer questions. Second Life is a waste of time for most companies just like was. Why go to a web site just because it has the bud logo. What are they offering consumers? Why go to Coke Island or wherever? Because it’s Coke?

I’m surprised Burger King hasn’t tried to replicate their games or created new ones in SL. That would generate some interest. I’m further surprised that game companies don’t host mini, playable previews of their game environments there, or more record companies don’t do virtual artist shows, or tv shows (Hello Lost) put on spin off episodes, meet the cast, or tour the island events on. These are the kinds of companies that can benefit from Second Life. Bank America isn’t going to get people to use their ATM machines! What is H&R Block going to do in Second Life, help people with their virtual taxes?

As for Wired’s article above, it’s further sensationalist journalism. “Second Life is Officially Over” they say. Only 1 million visitors in the last 30 days. I’d bet there are alot of companies that would like that kind of turnout on their web site.

Second Life does herald the next generation of the Internet, only a fool can deny that. The thing is, not unlike early 90s web sites, it’s not ready to be an ecommerce tool. Brand awareness, generator, maybe. Possibility for consumer engagement? I’ve got news for you, consumers are in charge now and no place is that more apparent than in their own world.

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Michael Durwin in a Google

Posted on March 22, 2007. Filed under: blog, Boston, Eternal Gaze//Scope, Google, Matt Hanson, Michael Durwin, RSS feed, Second Life, Warcraft, |

Google search bar with Michael Durwin's name in it.

I’ve been a bit self-obsessed I do admit. Over the last year or two I’ve been searching for my name, Michael Durwin, on Google. I’ve spoken to several companies who have Googled me prior to business meetings. It’s been very interesting to note what they have found, online community comments, Amazon book reviews, old portoflios, etc. I can’t tell you how many people looking for information on Michael Durwin have found my old portfolios. Granted, all designers evolve, but the last thing a designer wants to hear is that someone saw their work from 4 years ago and be judged based on that!
Because Google is such a big part of just about everyone’s online experience, it’s important to be mindful of your online image. Many are talking about avatars in reference to 3D characters in Second Life, Warcraft, etc. I’d suggest that users create an avatar the second the begin building their online representation, usually with an email address. Web sites, blogs, email addresses, online community comments, etc. are all facets of our avatar.
That means that everything you say or do online becomes part of your avatar. Users who act like pricks in community forums, put up pictures of them with their drunk buddies on MySpace, videos of parties in YouTube, etc. should expect that anyone looking for information on them such as human resources, recruiters, fathers of girlfriends, the government, clients, press or anyone else wanting to know you better, is not going to have the best impression.
I believe that it is very important to manage your avatar or online personality. Not to say that any of us should censor what we discuss online, but we have to be prepared to accept the consequences.
I recently ran into an interesting situation. While searching for my name on Google, a new entry popped up on a web site called Eternal Gaze//Scope, which is apparently a blog from UK writer Matt Hanson (no, not one of the Hanson brothers of 90s pop fame). THe site is intended to be a blog but pulls reviews of motion graphics clips from a site called is an awesome motion graphics site. It is comprised of some of the most amazing motion artists I have ever seen. Users post their work for review by their peers. I have several pieces posted on and to be honest they pale in comparison to some of the other work there. That however, is the point. I’m posting to a site that, while I know it is accessed by the general public, is primarily used by other motion graphics artist. Those users feel free to be as harsh as they want in reviewing work, which is not always pleasant but it is constructive for the most part. My issue began when I found a couple of comments that, in the context of’s site are fine, but when taken out of context, shed a negative light on me personally.
As mentioned above, everyone should expect that any thing they say or do online is accessible to anyone. What is tough to take is when online comments, articles, etc. are made on one particular site and repurposed on another out of context. Of course you can’t do anything about it because those who do this have a certain sense of entitlement and hide behind the anonymity provided by the web. Eternal Gaze//Scope’s writer Matt Hanson expecting me to speak to him in a concilitory manner if I were to contact him again. I’d already requested that he discontinue pulling reviews and posting them out of context. Matt Hanson doesn’t feel he’s done anything wrong. Why Matt Hanson needs to pull RSS feeds or repurpose other sites’ content to fill up his blog is beyond me. Matt Hanson could just post a rant like this one bitching about some punk emailing him about to remove his name from his blog!

So, to sum up my rant… We all need to be aware of appearances even if they are in the form of email, forums, pictures, etc. because you never know who’s looking and you never know when your personality is going to be co-opted, and you can’t control how, where or by who either.

See ya,
Michael Durwin

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should have stayed in texas

Posted on March 20, 2007. Filed under: Austin, Boston, Global Warming, Michael Durwin, Microsoft, Obama, Second Life, Starbucks, SXSW, texas, User Generated Content, vlog, Web3.d, Wi-Fi |

Snow in Boston

What a welcome back Boston had for me. Not 3 days back from SXSW in Austin, TX and we get spanked with 4 inches of snow. Granted it’s not much as far as New England standards go but between the change in weather patterns from global warming and sweating for 4 days in Austin, it was a shock to my system. Luckily the Benz handled ok. It is rear-wheel drive and all, with summer tires to boot, but it got me where I needed to be.
With SXSW fading in my memory, I’ve been working hard to bring the new scripture of UGC, vlog, web3.d to the masses. It’s a hard sell. Most companies don’t want to touch anything without a proven track record, never realizing that once a tactic’s track recprd is proven, the market is flooded rendering the tactic useless. Of course they claim to want something edgy and viral, as long as it’s been around for a few years and Microsoft or Apple has used it! “I know, let’s give away free WI-FI!” It works so well for Starbucks right? I think they’re are even beginning to realize that, while it’s too late to take back, the press and attention it got them isn’t worth having a caffiene squater taking up a table for 4 hours in exchange for $3 drink.
In other news, I’ve got a great new Obama ’08 t-shirt on my Second Life avatar. Look me up sometime:
Rize Yongho.

See ya,
Michael Durwin

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no movement in newark

Posted on March 14, 2007. Filed under: Google, Linden Labs, Newark Airport, Second Life, SXSW |

pictureStuck in newark, nj. I’ve been thinking of nothing else but virtual words, video blogging, personalization… I met alot of great people with alot of great ideas. Not too many seemed to talk among themselves though. Noone at Linden Labs or Google have talked apparently. I told them both that Google needs to prepare to make searchable not only links to Second Life but to other virtual or synthetic worlds. They should allow you to upload Second Life URLs in reference to companies. I can see the Google search bar now SEARCH: Web | Images | Video | News | SWURL
Get it? SWURL: Synthetic World Universal Resource Locator. It’s 8:07 pm in Newark. I came up with it first!
I also started a new company. SyntheStaff – Virtual Staffing For Your Virtual Strategy. Like a cross between a call center and store clerk for Second Life. What do you think?
Well this is my first WordPress blog, since I never have time to visit my blog on MySpace. I’m a little burned out. I’m just coming back from SXSW and I arrived on Friday. I’ve been to at least half of the parties there, and if you think that’s not much, I’ve had about 8 hours sleep in 5 days!
My last night was fun. I got to see at least one movie though I wanted to see more. I caught the screening of Knocked Up. I haven’t laughed so hard at a movie in a really long time. Great cast, great dialogue, fun story. I highly recommend it as not just a date movie but as a bring-your-better-half-along-on-a-double-date-with-your-college-buddy-and-his-date movie. My coworker Amy and I went to the after party with some of the cast (Paul Rudd, et al and director). We met up with Cory and Marc, two other directors with great projects (Marc’s The Toll is amazing, I hope it wins!). I met up with the guys from Doctor Doctor and their friends Kelly, Tawnie and their indian friend whose name I can’t spell. We were met by one of the stars of Confessions of a Superhero, Superman himself! The Hulk couldn’t make it. I missed it but apparently some members of Creem checked into out hotel that night. AMy saw them but didn’t know who they were.
Other great parties were the Suicide Girls and Robert Rodriguez ones. Bobby can jam!!!
I also caught What Made Milwaukee Famous at the Knocked Up party. I grabbed their CD, they are amazing!
Did I mention I’m burned out? Here’s a picture to prove it.

See ya,
Michael Durwin

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