GM Now in ‘Second Life’

iMedia points to an AdWeek piece by Brian Morrissey on GM setting up an island called Motorati Life. This is yet another example of a brand setting up a presence in the virtual world.

An interesting issue raised by this is how one measures success. If you’re conducting ecommerce, you can obviously just track purchases driven from the site. But if you’re doing a “branding” campaign, which is what GM is doing with Pontiac in this instance, you have to think not in terms of clicks or even conversions but in terms of some new “engagement” metric (i.e., time on site or similar). Some marketers have been arguing for this for awhile.

I suppose you could think about it like TV, which has been inherently untrackable in the past. But justifying the shift of ad spending from traditional media to new media and something like this in particular would require some metrics indicating the “campaign” was having its desired effect. This is what the culture of new media (and online direct response in particular) has fostered – “accountability.”

When interactive agency RPA did its online Honda Element (Gil the Crab) campaign last year they created an online “interactive island” where users could spend time with various characters from the TV commercials and do various things. Clicks in this context are not as important as other considerations. To that end the agency created some metrics around engagement and time on site to measure the success of the campaign.

But the real success of such a campaign is brand perception and more specifically whether more cars are selling — and that’s elusive and difficult to measure.

So we may be back in John Wanamaker territory.


Related: Coming off my earlier “Brands Want In” post, here’s Chris Smith with an interesting post about companies and individuals needing to learn how to negotiate these virtual environments in order to reach engaged audiences in places like Second Life.


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