Lively and Local Targeting

As you know by now, Google launched its own virtual world Lively today: avatars, customized rooms, 3D chats, etc. Here’s my write up on SEL:

Beyond comparing the now proliferating virtual worlds on features, it’s worth asking why Google is doing this. As I said in the beginning, this effort is quite far removed from Google’s mission to “organize the world’s information.”

One could take the cynical view and see it as an effort to further develop the burgeoning “in-game” advertising market. In 2006 Google acquired the in-game ad company AdScape. Alternatively it could be seen as a product to appeal to the youth market (and later offer demographic advertising and sponsorships accordingly). But it may equally be a product of the creativity of a number of Google engineers who just thought it would be “cool.”

It will also be interesting to see whether and how Lively integrates with Google Earth and Maps.

Locally targeted ads are probably very far removed from the minds of the engineers who created Lively, which so far has no apparent grounding in the real world.

But if you took this product “up” about a decade or two and turned Google Earth’s 3D cities and environments into a similar metaverse (think SIMS) it would be a very interesting place for adults, e-commerce and local/brand advertising. (See, for example, the T-Mobile part of this post.)

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