Thursday, September 27, 2007

Virtual Worlds for Kids...and Marketers

From earlier this week, a new report by eMarketer on the big rise in popularity of virtual worlds among and for kids and teens...which according to Marketwire is really great news for marketers (their title, "Wildly Popular, Virtual Worlds Are Marketers' Playground", kind of says it all). Some highlights from the Marketwire article include:

- eMarketer's prediction that "24% of the 34.3 million US child and teen Internet users will visit virtual worlds once a month in 2007"...a figure that they argue will rise to 34% in 2008 and up to 53% by 2011.

- the conclusion that young people are attracted the the "UGC" or creative aspects of virtual worlds, which are "allow kids to tap into their creativity, indulge their desire for self-expression and exercise their proclivity for exploration."

- the direct links the article makes between UGC and market research, claiming that "The good news for marketers is that most virtual worlds are capable of offering detailed information about how their users interact with brands and advertising." The bad news? "[I]t is difficult to know what all this virtual interaction really means. What value is there in a person's avatar drinking a Pepsi? Or wearing a shirt bought from a virtual store? What if a person's virtual activities have no bearing on their real-world activities?"

The real bad news, however, is for the kids/teens who flock to these sites - namely that without respect for their privacy or intellectual property, their every move within these environments might be tracked and analyzed by market researchers in the off chance that it might tell them how to target youth demographic groups better.

You can read more coverage of the report on Izzy Neis' blog as well.

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