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Let the users create

February 28, 2006

One of the things that characterizes C21st media, is the constant quest to find new places to put advertising. It’s often all about how many places can we cover to reach that elusive consumer. It’s a story of entrapment, rather than empowerment. It would be better for media and advertisers to think of these spaces as new places to engage people in the marketing process, in a way that does not look like of feel like regular advertising.

One area that’s current flavor of the month is in game advertising. Even here in one of the most technologically advanced media, the tendency is to populate the environment with passive and static advertising. The justification given by these new media owners is the ads add value because they enhance the realism of the game. Sadly, they do very little for the user.

The creative potential of communities and their users are quite considerable. This was illustrated by last week’s creation of a U2 concert inside the Second Life gaming environment.It’s not surprising that this unsanctioned event took place, but how much effort and detail was put into it.

Here’s what the Second Lifers did:

– Created a vending machine to give away tickets
– Built merchandise and food stands
– Concert was produced by a concert director
– There were security staff to keep the fans from the stage
– Server streamed songs from a recent U2 concert in Boston
– Each song had its own animation and lighting
– The band came back to sign autographs for the 50 people that attended the concert

U2’s lawyers maybe concerned about the various IP issues surrounding this event, but putting that to one side for the moment. The level of creativity and effort involvement is mind-boggling and the experience far surpasses that of a static U2 ad in Second Life.

Moving forward, the future will not be about static ads that are passively received, but engaging experiences that are co-produced by advertisers, their agencies and consumers.

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