Tagged: advertising

Turner Uses Kaneva For Virtual World Presence

Turner Broadcasting System has signed a one-year deal to use Kaneva to build out virtual-world extensions of its entertainment properties, according to a press release. “The agreement will grant Turner access to Kaneva’s technology and tools to create and use Web communities and Virtual Spaces on the Kaneva Web site and in the virtual world of Kaneva. Each Turner Web Community and corresponding Virtual World space inside Kaneva will be enabled with embedded video players for video streaming of select Turner network content. One of the foregoing Turner Virtual Spaces will be an external space that will link to the other Turner Virtual Spaces, as well as other areas within Kaneva’s Virtual World.”

It’s interesting to see a year-long deal being signed in this way. I’m not sure that’s been done before. Most of the projects we’ve seen so far has been one-offs, or involve the purchase and/or licensing of software.

Full release below: Continue reading

Oasis Rocks Into Second Life

Just got this press release:

UK rock band Oasis is opening its official online space in the virtual world Second Life (SL) this Monday, September 24, and is kicking off with a preview of its latest release, a feature-length-plus, limited edition double DVD entitled ‘Lord Don’t Slow Me Down’. The facility – built for Oasis in Second Life’s ‘New Horizon’ business park – is a joint venture between SL developer New Business Horizons and SL media producer Phoenix Film & Television.

From Monday, visitors can watch the DVD’s trailer as they browse around the space, pick up free goodies such as a virtual t-shirt and coffee table book, have a look at stills from the production and pre-order the double DVD itself for real world delivery by Amazon. The real world release of ‘Lord Don’t Slow Me Down’ is scheduled for October 29, 2007 by Big Brother Recordings in the UK and Big Brother Recordings/Universal internationally. Continue reading

Taking a Virtual Break at TUI

tui-3ptD.jpg

While many residents of the virtual world of Second Life have taken themselves off on a short break to Chicago for Second Life Community Convention (SLCC) 2007, I have had to settle for a virtual holiday instead. Courtesy of German travel company, TUI, I have been rafting, scuba-diving, and exploring wrecked pirate ships at their virtual beach resort in Second Life.

The TUI AG group is perhaps the largest holidy tour operator in the world, and includes brands such as Thomson in the UK. This Second Life presence, spanning 4 islands, is intended to advertise their German tour operations. These are classed under 3 major “sub-brands” which are reflected in the names of their islands. TUI Schöne Ferien (classic seaside holidays), TUI Weltentdecker (city breaks and circular trips) and TUI Premium (high-end holidays). Continue reading

CMP Launches Metaverse Services Division

CMP Technology has become “the first global media company to be certified by Linden Labs as a full-service content developer in Second Life,” according to a press release. (Though maybe Linden Lab should be careful that their certified devs at least spell the name of the company correctly.) CMP, of course, runs the annual Game Developers Conference and the Austin Game Developers Conference (which leans more toward MMOs and virtual worlds), as well as a number of Web 2.0 and other tech events, and publishes sites like Gamasutra and publications like Game Developer and Information Week. CMP is now bringing the virtual world into its media offerings: “CMP’s metaverse division will work with customers to create unique builds and events that promote deep engagement and nurture community. The division will integrate Second Life and the web to reach global markets while leveraging CMP’s trusted brands to acquire highly-qualified audiences and bring them inworld.”

Does this spell the beginning of stiffer competition for outfits like the Electric Sheep Company, Millions of Us, Rivers Run Red and others? It has seemed to be only a matter of time before big media companies got into the metaverse services space in a big way; CMP’s entry may be the early sign of a coming wave. Other firms with global reach (Edelman, for one) are already operating in Second Life (despite the “first” claim in CMP’s release), and it seems logical that such firms would expand their operations to produce campaigns for this new medium. It will be interesting to see how the “native” firms react to increased competition. I’m still waiting for a big media company to absorb one of the main metaverse services companies. If the market holds up (a big if, but not huge one), I imagine it’s only a matter of time before that happens. CMP’s entry into the space could well accelerate the process.

LFG: Social Limitations in Second Life Groups

Groups are a standard feature of the virtual world of Second Life. They provide communities for avatars with mutual interests, and can range across every interest or specialization known to avatar-kind. Within Second Life an avatar can be a member of up to 25 groups. Sometimes they are used to restrict access to specific areas, but more often they are used as a communication medium, as it is possible to send messages to all (online) members simultaneously.

A couple of months ago a new group was founded by Nick Wilson (aka 57 Miles in Second Life) of the popular Metaversed blog. It was called “Things To Do” and was based on the simple premise that Second Life is a social environment in which it is enjoyable to share activities with people, and make friends. Things To Do has since grown into both a popular group and an effective communications channel. But it also illustrates some of the limitations of social tools in Second Life, and raises some interesting questions about how to reach and manage large communities of people within the virtual world. Continue reading

Amazon’s Askville is Human-Powered AdWords

The latest company to catch on to the fact that computer games provide compelling feedback mechanisms is Amazon.com, which recently launched its Askville service, where users earn virtual currency for answering other users’ questions. A lot of attention has been paid to the accompanying Questville, which, according to the Askville FAQ (at Experience Points, Levels and Quest Coins, question #7) is described as “a new website” where “you will be able to use your Quest Coins to participate in exciting new adventures and other cool things!” Most everyone takes this to be a virtual world, although I’m not sure where that idea originated. Regardless, what’s more interesting to me is the fact that Amazon is leveraging game mechanics to expand into another new area of service, i.e., what’s essentially a human-powered knowledge search. Askville rewards answerers with Quest Coins that will be useful in Questville. Of course, you get extra coins for embedding Amazon widgets in your answers. What’s really going on here is a kind of human-powered advertising program akin to AdWords, but with only one advertisers, so that people embed Amazon ads in what are essentially search results, rather than using an algorithm. The question is whether Questville will be a compelling enough experience to keep real experts coming back to answer questions in Askville and earn more Questville coins. And is it actually a virtual world? Interestingly, RCE Universe‘s Nate Randall asked Askville the question, What is Questville?, but the entry has received only four answers so far, and it doesn’t seem they’ll be available to view for another day or so. Stay tuned.

Publicis and Dassault Dive In for a 3dswym

Huge global marketing and communications company Publicis and big 3D design company Dassault have teamed up on a new plugin-based 3D browser tool called 3dswym, which will “offer a collaborative Web-based platform allowing marketers to connect directly to consumers in order to jointly create and adapt new consumer goods and new retail environments using advanced Web and 3D tools.” You can plug in and mess around with an early version of 3dswym, but it doesn’t seem to offer anything special at the moment. That said, it sounds like it could be cool once it’s spun up. The tool is based on an interesting premise, though: “Successful marketing must permit consumers to enter the product creation process at a much earlier stage, so that products and services are in fact co-generated with them” according to a press release. Thing is that the global reach and sway of these companies could well help drive things in a more co-creative direction. Keep an eye out for 3dswym coming to a consumer products company near you — although not necessarily soon.

The Virtual Brand, Today in Second Life

New media marketing firm crayon kicks off a series of monthly “thought leadership” panels in the virtual world of Second Life today, and guess who’s moderating the first one. Yep, I’ll be »on crayon island« from 9am SL Time today (noon Eastern), for a chat with some of the people who’ve been doing branding in SL, including:

* Michael Donnelly (Mickey Douhet), The Coca-Cola Company
* Linda Boff (Clementine Sinatra), iVillage
* Greg Verdino (Jiggy Stardust), crayon
* Steve Wax (Elliot Tao), Campfire Continue reading

Panel on Virtual Goods and Entertainment

Google’s Charles Hudson, a host of the Virtual Goods Summit, moderated the last panel of the day, on virtual goods and entertaiment.

Panelists:
Jim Greer of Kongregate
Erik Bethke of GoPets
Sean Ryan of Meez

Charles: What motivates people to stay engaged, and how do virtual goods play into that?

Ryan: For us it’s about self-expression. When our users spend 4-6 hours online, self-experssion as they show themselves in their IM, in their blogs, in the game, is incredbly impoertant to them. Our most loyal users are female. Unlike in Second Life, where they routinely blow up the American Apparel store, it has to be a conscious choice to engage with the brand. We find our users actually associate with brands. It comes down to, I’m online and I want to express something about my identity to everyone else. Continue reading

Gaia Partners With Millions of Us For Advertisers

I’m still catching up from flying across the country today, but I have to post this one, since it’s pretty big news. Virtual world services and marketing firm Millions of Us has struck a partnership with Gaia Online, which bills itself as “the Web’s
fastest-growing hangout for teens.” According to a press release, the partnership is “designed to bring new advertising clients to both parties while providing Millions of Us with an additional community in which to conduct campaigns.” That’s pretty significant stuff, since Gaia, which boasts an active membership of more than two million, is not an open platform, as is the virtual world of Second Life, where Millions got its start — along with 3pointD’s sponsor, the Electric Sheep Company, and firms like Rivers Run Red and Infinite Visions Media. The press release doesn’t say whether the partnership is exclusive to Millions of Us, but it does open a new world to Millions that its competitors don’t currently have access to. Congrats to Reuben and co. Full press release reprinted below. Continue reading

Playboy Disrobes in Second Life

Playboy opens island in the virtual world of Second LifeAfter running as a bit of a stealth operation, Playboy is finally ready to reveal all. The magazine and attendant flesh lifestyle empire opens its »island in the virtual world of Second Life« today, with a party at 4pm SL Time (7pm Eastern). Playboy island will house a virtual Playboy retail store, and host a variety of events and “social opportunities,” according to a press release. Playboy’s Second Life retail location will feature merchandise from its e-commerce sites, PlayboyStore.com and ShoptheBunny.com Residents will be able to purchase Playboy-branded apparel either for the real world or for their Second Life avatars. “The virtual store will be staffed by female avatar employees wearing Playboy-branded apparel and the famous Playboy Bunny costume,” according to the release. That leaves tons of space on the island to serve as a “social space” for residents to interact. It’s not entirely clear how Playboy will fill that space and time, but you can hear more about the project on C.C. Chapman’s Managing the Gray. (Note that Playboy is an advertiser in the Second Life Herald, a 3pointD sister site.)

Lifelogging and Identity in the Metaverse

Lifelogging service Me.dium wins $15 million Series B fundingOne of the great things about lifelogging is that it takes a bunch of data that formerly had been in the hands only of companies and the government, if anyone, and puts it back in the hands of the individual. At the moment, Amazon.com knows enough about me to recommend Infotopia, but unless I care to do some clumsy screen-scraping, what I buy on Amazon stays on Amazon; there’s no way for me to combine that Amazon data with a Netflix history and my Zappos purchases to build a more detailed profile of myself. That’s a shame, but we’re now approaching the point when something like that should soon be possible. Already, there are services and applications out there that can record my browsing history in more or less detail, including stuff like Google History, Justin Hall’s Passively Multiplayer Online Game, Slife, Me.dium and several others. Me.dium, in fact, has been able to leverage the attention data flowing through its Firefox plugin into a $15 million Series B round of funding. This very perceptive blog post (which is excellently titled — and from which I’ve stolen the image above) starts to get at why lifelogging services like Me.dium could become very valuable as the broader metaverse takes shape: “Me.dium’s technology, by tracking people’s behavior, could become valuable to advertisers looking for more ways to target ads.” Continue reading

Comcast Parachutes Into Second Life

Comcast comes to the virtual world of Second Life

Comcast, the largest provider of cable services in the US — and one of the world’s leading communications companies, providing broadband Internet and a host of other digital services — have had »an island« under development in the virtual world of Second Life for what seems like an eternity. I have tried on numerous occasions to gain access, since it looks rather intriguing on the Satellite Map view. Last night I gave it another go, and was pleasantly surprised to find myself standing in front of a teleport board, offering all manner of interesting pursuits. I had not picked up any hints that this site was due to open, and certainly the only other person present when I arrived was a developer, beavering away on various bits of fine tuning.

The build, from Millions of Us, is really too much to describe in one post — but I will give it a go. Most of the island is geared toward entertainment, with much for the seasoned traveller to try out. The main feature is a snaking tubular arrangement, which brought to my mind images of a particularly bizarre accident in a pipe factory. This turns out to be a raceway where up to four teams can compete against each other, around three laps of the tubular track, in zippy little flying cars. Unfortunately, as a solo adventurer, I evidently didn’t count as a team and it flatly refused to rez me a race craft. I had more luck outside, where I took the opportunity to ride (and repeatedly crash) a rather skittish jet-ski. Again, a track has been laid out to allow you and your friends to race these unmanageable brutes. Continue reading

New 3D eCommerce Package From View22

View22 Technology has announced what it calls a “3D Web commerce and media platform” that “simplifies the process of adding 3D Web applications and customer experiences into the marketing mix.” Known as Immersiv (and viewable in video clips on the View22 site), the tech resembles a fancy Flash app with a few extra features, including camera controls, integration with Google’s 3D Warehouse of Sketchup objects, support for a number of files formats, and a few other things mentioned at the end of this post. What’s interesting to me, though, is how View22 is positioning the product. If View22’s press release is to be believed, this is one of the first nearly plug-n-play 3D ecommerce packages to come along. (CyWorld USA is using it as an ecommerce solution for one of their media partners.) According to the release, “The new platform enables manufacturers, retailers, media networks, content developers and third-party integrators to quickly customize and deploy a range of in-demand applications such as 3D virtual stores and showrooms; 3D product configurators and visualizers; 3D social networking experiences; 3D Web sales automation systems; interactive 3D room planners; and interactive brand promotion and online advertising.” There may well be one out there, but I’m not sure I’ve seen a Web-based 3D ecommerce system that makes so many end-to-end claims for itself, from the aforementioned file format support to “integrated Web 2.0 services, customizable catalog and user interface, and an ad serving module” (see below). It remains to be seen, of course, how well it works and how easy it is to use, but it’s an interesting foray into the market nonetheless. Continue reading

CBS Features Machinima in Upfront Presentation

The Upfronts are the week when television networks show off the season’s upcoming shows to advertisers, hoping to win them over and grab fistfuls of their cash. For that reason, they’re very important, and the networks make sure their presentations are top-notch and designed to entertain. CBS made its showing yesterday afternoon at Carnegie Hall — and kicked it off with a machinima piece (produced by the Electric Sheep Company, sponsors of this blog) showing an avatar of JoAnn Ross, the president of network sales, flying around the virtual world of Second Life, according to Paul LaMonica of CNN/Money (who wasn’t sure it really was SL, apparently). CBS hasn’t posted the video on YouTube yet, but it will apparently be up there eventually, 3pointD hears, though it could take a week or two. The network is definitely taking a brave step into the future with the use of machinima in such a context, but it isn’t yet moving around the present very quickly, it seems. You can look for more good stuff in this vein from CBS, I’d bet. What I like about it is that it’s the kind of thing that will drive adoption of virtual worlds.

Wirecard Bank To Open In Second Life, Entropia

German bank Wirecard Bank AG has opened »an island« in the virtual world of Second Life, according to a press release [< -- registration required]. The German financial services provider is also planning to set up shop in Entropia Universe, it says, which implies that it may be one of the five winners of the banking licenses that Entropia recently auctioned. Continue reading

SecondCast #60: C.C. Chapman’s Virtual Thirst

SecondCast #60 is now on the air, featuring an interview with podcaster C.C. Chapman and Steve Coulson (aka Second Life‘s Cleon Goff and Gideon Television) of Crayon, the new media marketing firm that launched last year. The pair relate their experience designing Coca-Cola’s Virtual Thirst contest, in which Coke drinkers (or anyone, for that matter, whether you’re a member of Second Life or not) can submit their ideas for the coolest, most fantastical virtual thirstquencher. There might be some news thrown in there as well.

Vauxhall Launches User-Generated SL Guide

Vauxhall Launches user-generated Second Life GuideBritish carmaker Vauxhall is entering the virtual world of Second Life with the creation of a user-generated guide that will be assembled over the next month, according to a press release. The Corsa Guide site for SL provides a fairly long list of locations (“as diverse as wonderful water parks, awesome fantasy gardens and crazy nightclubs where anything is possible”), complete with teleport links. SL members can visit the locations and vote on them using Corsa kiosks located there. The top ten results will be “unveiled” (in what form the press release doesn’t say) in Mid-June as the Corsa Guide to Getting a (Second) Life. Besides being a mildly interesting way to have a Second Life presence, Vauxhall’s project — as well as the many other guides to SL now appearing or in the works — also points up the continuing need for better search tools for the virtual world. But that’s a subject for another post. As well as the continuing need for an SL presence for those little guys in the Vauxhall ads, who so clearly belong in Second Life. Why weren’t those guys included in the project? That’s what I want to know.

Playboy Magazine Enters Second Life

Playboy Magazine Enters Second Life

If you check out the latest ad buy on 3pointD’s cousin publication, the Second Life Herald (see the right sidebar, top), you’ll see that the inevitable is finally about to happen: Playboy Magazine is entering the virtual world of Second Life. No word yet on what form Playboy’s presence there will take, but it would seem to be the perfect place for them. After all, constructing a sexy avatar for yourself is just an extreme version of the airbrushing that often goes on in the pages of higher-end skin mags like Playboy. The possibilities, of course, are very interesting: in-world girlie mag to compete with Marilyn Murphy‘s Players? A Playboy mansion where a virtual Hef and the bunnies will hang out? (Second Lifer’s won’t have any trouble finding things to do in the Grotto.) If there are virtual bunnies, will Playboy take as good care of them as they take of the real ones? RL Playboy Playmates are pretty much set for life; Playboy offers them jobs (albeit they’re usually jobs as professional cheesecake) and often does stuff like help pay for their education. In return, the organization gets a steady supply of buxom women to decorate their parties and functions with. Working as a virtual fleshpot is already a popular pursuit in Second Life; why not get paid a decent wage for it? And while it’s still exploiting the female image, you can’t say it’s exploitative of the women being photographed or hired, since you don’t know whether there’s a woman behind that curvy female av. All very interesting. The ad says Playboy won’t hit SL until June, but you can already sign up for email updates. The shape of things to come? We’ll see.

Microsoft Flies A Blimp Into Second Life

Mysterious news on the Millions of Us blog this evening: it seems there’s now a Microsoft island in the virtual world of Second Life. At least, that’s what the »teleport link« in the blog entry implies. And indeed, Microsoft has a build set up on its island devoted to Visual Studio — though it’s not clear what the rest of the island is for. And then there’s the blimp, which Millions of Us clearly wants us to be interested in, especially judging from the teaser video. It’s a pretty nice blimp, actually — although if you get too close to it, it first gives you a security warning, and then teleports you to your home location! More will be revealed at a launch event at 3pm 6pm SL Time (9pm Eastern) on Thursday, 10 May. Until then, it’s interesting to note Microsoft’s presence in Second Life. Various people from Microsoft initiatives like Channel 9 have set up shop in Second Life, and a mad Microsoft marketer chose some interesting spots to make the launch of Vista, but I think this may be the first big Microsoft presence in SL. Hard to tell what it means coming out of such a sprawling company, but it will be interesting to watch. Especially if there’s something good in that blimp.

IBM to Open BeNeLux R&D Lab in Second Life

IBM's BeNeLux R&D lab in the virtual world of Second Life

Thursday, May 10, will mark the expansion of IBM‘s presence in the virtual world of Second Life when the company opens “a new and unique island,” designed as a combination R&D lab and communications center for the company’s BeNeLux division (that’s Belgium-Netherlands-Luxembourg, to you) and its clients. Other than that, not much information is available about »IBM’s BeNeLux sim« at the moment, but we’ll bring you updates if we arrange a tour. The sim is closed to the public at the moment, but the place certainly looks cool enough in IBM’s press shots.

Mixed-Reality Concert May 10 in SL and NYC

Virtualive.tv presents Buddhahead and Shock Radar at the Canal Room and in the virual world of Second LifeCheck out Virtualive.tv for details of a cool-sounding mixed-reality concert that’s taking place on May 10 in the virtual world of Second Life and the virtual world real city of New York. Arranged by Adam Broitman of Morpheus Media, with the help of popular Second Life DJ and promoter Nexeus Fatale, the concert will be simulcast into »the Morpheum sim« and »the Vesuvius sim« as part of an ongoing series of concerts meant to bring performance in the two worlds closer together, and bring new artists to new audiences. Got an indie band that needs a gig? Get in touch. Says Adam: “Our goal with this event is to create a platform whereby we provide all the logistics and funds to make events like these happen (we are possibly looking at an ad-supported model) and allowing anyone across the country the ability to apply to hold a Virtualive.tv event. The only criteria are that you are not on a major label and that you have some interest in virtual worlds. We think this can be a really cool way to empower indie musicians and at the same time create yet another way to employ the metaverse in a meaningful fashion.” Read more details in this press release.

Top Seller in CyWorld USA? NBC Tie-In Items

A mini home page in CyWorld USA

Thought it worth noting that the top-selling virtual items to date in CyWorld USA, which launched last summer, are tie-ins from the Bravo TV show Top Design, according to a press release. (Bravo is part of NBC Universal.) CyWorld’s Top Design club was apparently very popular during the show’s first season, and members were able to purchase virtual items that were based on the winning designs from the show. “These Top Design-inspired collectibles became the top-selling digital items to-date for Cyworld USA,” the release says. CyWorld is adding Top Design features during the show’s off season, including “an immersive social network and commerce platform from View22,” which does 3D ecommerce services, and a Top Design 3D Throw-Down. No surprise that networks are moving closer and closer to virtual worlds as the age of New New MediaTM takes hold. CyWorld is pitched at a younger audience than Top Design, but that may be perfect for Bravo: get ’em hooked early via the virtual world, then gather ’em up in a medium where advertisers will pay more for their eyeballs.

NBA Takes Its Shot In Second Life

NBA opens a build in the virtual world of Second Life

The NBA launched its presence in the virtual world of Second Life this morning, following an in-world press conference yesterday that featured NBA commissioner David Stern making the announcement. Built out by the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog), the NBA region in SL features a basketball arena, streaming video of classic NBA games and more recent highlights, virtual NBA merchandise (natch), and four half-courts where fans can play HORSE or enter dunking contests. I saw a demo of the HORSE game recently, and I have to say that it looks like the Sheep have hooked up some pretty cool scripting and animations for this one.

a BrandWeek story on the build quotes Stern as saying that the NBA in SL will at first host “a unique event every day through the end of this season, which will wrap up sometime in June. Eventually, Stern said that as Second Life grows, the league would like to see its players and fans’ avatars interacting. ‘We could turn this into the ultimate 3D fantasy game,’ he said.”

Good virtual basketball fun. NBA fans can apparently sign up via NBA.com, though I couldn’t find the link. Check things out for yourself at »NBA Jam Session«, »NBA Arena«, or »NBA Courts«.

ING’s Renault F1 Team Coming to Second Life

ING's Renault Formula 1 team coming to the virtual world of Second Life

Dutch bankers ING, which have been building Virtual Holland in the virtual world of Second Life, will also be bringing the Renault Formula 1 racing team their sponsor into the virtual world, according to a press release. Not many details are available at the moment, but it looks like virtual-world services company Rivers Run Red will be doing the heavy lifting. The team’s SL build will “put enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike behind-the-scenes with a championship-winning Formula 1 team. The experience is designed to take them closer to the dedication, technological excellence and teamwork required to achieve Formula 1 success, alongside a number of unique interactive virtual experiences.” Continue reading

Rivers Launching virtuallife.tv at MIPTV Cannes

Virtual-world services company Rivers Run Red will today launch its virtuallife.tv, a television network for Second Life, at the MIPTV digital content market in Cannes. This was originally slated to launch back in November, of course, so we’ll see what this launch consists of. But new details of the service have emerged, so it seems an infrastructure has been built out for the in-world television network, which is now awaiting content, some of which Rivers will try to gather at MIPTV. (NOTE: This is not to be confused with Virtualive.tv, a project of Morpheus Media, which will stream concerts live to Second Life.] Continue reading

Design a Virtual Vending Machine for Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola launches design competition in the virtual world of Second Life
Coca-Cola set up in Second Life

Coca-Cola is taking its first steps in the virtual world of Second Life with a contest in which SL members will be invited to “imagine a virtual vending machine with limitless possibilities.” In concert with new-media marketing firm crayon and virtual-world services outfit Millions of Us, Coke is running “an open contest for Second Life residents and the general population to design a virtual experience machine through its Virtual Thirst competition. . . . This contest is not a search for the virtual version of a real-life vending machine that distributes bottles and cans, but the mission to create a portable device for Second Life’s ‘in-world’ digital society that unleashes a refreshing and attention-grabbing experience, on demand.” The contest is to be announced today in an in-world press conference with Coca-Cola execs. Continue reading

Lacoste Seeks SL Avatars For Modelling Shoot

Preppy French fashioneers Lacoste have put out an open call for models from the virtual world of Second Life. From now until May 2, you can submit a photo and description of your avatar at the Lacoste Web site (warning: contains highly annoying Flash, resizing and unturnoffable music). Internet users will then have the chance to vote for the 100 most beautiful avatars, from which three male and three female avs will be selected by Lacoste to take part in a virtual photo shoot — and share in L$1 million. The winning avs will be featured on the Lacoste site and in a gallery in Second Life, starting May 17. Lacoste is already getting noticed for the program Women’s Wear Daily, while Amanda at PSFK finds the notion “pretty ridiculous and somewhat pointless.” It’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but I kind of like the idea. But what I’d really like to see is Lacoste extend their brand itself into Second Life, and let those SL models leak out into print ads in some form. That would be an entirely more interesting experiment.

Offshore SL Casino to Close to U.S. Residents

Reuters carried the news Wednesday that Linden Lab, makers of the virtual world of Second Life, had invited FBI agents to look around the Grid at the gambling activities going on there. And though the Lindens say they “know of no law enforcement agency that has opened an investigation into gambling in Second Life,” the company has decided to no longer accept from residents “any classified ads, place listings, or event listings that appear to relate to simulated casino activity.” Now, Giddyup Holdings, a company based in the British Virgin Islands and which runs Internet gambling site PalmVegas.com as well as a Second Life casino, has issued a press release — apparently signed off on by LL’s PR agency — stating that it will no longer allow access to its SL casino by U.S. residents, and that it is talking to Linden Lab about ways to automatically restrict access to U.S. residents and computers being accessed from within the U.S. There may not be an investigation going on, but it sounds like people are nervous. I’d say it’s even money as to whether we see a ruling from the government on gambling in Second Life, since current laws (as I recall) pretty clearly state that U.S. residents aren’t allowed access to gambling via the Internet (which of course is the network through which we access SL). There’s sure to be a hue and cry from a few cyberutopian SL residents out there, but my guess is that the issue’s already been decided.

Map of RL Brands Operating in Second Life

Map of real-world brands operating in the virtual world of Second Life
View the full-size map

Nic Mitham at the K Zero blog (a marketing and branding company) posted a map a few days ago of all the real-world brands he could find operating in the virtual world of Second Life, and now he’s already posted a new version. Nice work, though tough to keep up. (Interested readers could help by contacting Nic with new finds, I suppose.) If done well, this could become a great resource. Never content to leave well enough alone, though, I thought up two feature suggestions:

• leave the map at a static URL which simply directs people to latest version [UPDATE: A link to Nic’s static map is now available.]
• make the company names into clickable secondlife:// links

Just thought I’d blog it in case people were interested, especially since there was so much interest from corporates at Virtual Worlds 2007. [Originally spotted on JJProjects.]

[A note before we leave you: I’m not taking the week off from blogging because of the Kathy Sierra affair, but I am going to try to mark all my posts today with a message like this, despite the fact that some other people have a blogging boycott on today. I’m not sure a boycott is the right thing for me, but I don’t mind interrupting a few posts for a public service announcement about an insult culture that has run right off the rails. See you soon.]

IBM’s Colin Parris Dives Into Virtual Worlds

I missed the beginning of the remarks by Colin Parris, vice president of digital convergence at IBM Research, because the panels are stacked a bit back-to-back and I was on the one directly before he spoke, but the first half of his presentation consisted of laying out some of the potential benefits of integrating virtual worlds with current business processes. The second half of his remarks consisted of looking at what IBM is doing and planning in the space. I’ve transcribed them pretty well below. Continue reading