SL Business Tourguide: NBC, Dell, and… Playboy?!

The last blog entry I wrote mentioned short-term vs. long-term profit growth via an SL company. But what about businesses that exist in the real world which choose to be in SL? I decided to visit some random locations to see what they’ve done. All three of the following locations can be found by using the Search function within the Map in SL:

NBC

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Although NBC Island wasn’t my first choice for browsing, I made it the first business to write about, because of how confused I was by it. When I entered, I was faced with a giant office building, which I figured would have been the entirety of the experience. I was only able to find ads for NBC shows and a walkway to an elevator. The elevator brought me to the Peacock Room. Very… shiny, but empty. I found a lot of ads for Joan Osborne, and even a small ad for “Avatar’s Got Talent.”

Other than that though, there was very little to see in this area. Since I could not find an easy way to transport between sections of the island without using the map, I decided to leave. I know there’s more to NBC than that, but I quickly lost interest.

Dell Computers

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Dell Island was a little more fun to explore. The main entrance and the city were very well designed. Right away, their architecture told me they are looking for a futuristic look to attract people in. Dell had a few more options for locations to visit, and they even supplied a special “pod” to transport me from one area to another!

For their advertising, besides the special conference room and their giant walk-though computer, Dell had their computer factory in SL. Inside the factory, I could browse computer models that were pre-built or customize my own PC. I like how they set up the factory, as well as the entire island, but I’m not too sure if it’s enough to get me to go out and buy a Dell in real life. I’ll have to come back to this island again soon.

Playboy Magazine

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Honestly, I entered in this through the SL map search as a joke, and surprisingly the joke was on me. The search resulted an island in the shape of the famous bunny head logo from Playboy Magazine. They really went all out with making the Playboy Island to be an online social gathering location. The island had many swimming areas, a tiki-themed bar with Corona Extra branding, lounges, and even a yacht! The sky lounge that was available had beds to lay down in, and TVs to watch their programming with. Not quite the programming you’d expect out of Playboy, but why would they honestly give you anything decent (or in this case, indecent) for free?

That being said, Playboy even has a store on their island. Instantly, they have the ability to make money in SL or out of SL just from their store there. They have different sections of the store, just like any store, to fit a shopper’s needs, serving clothes and accessories. What’s unique about this store is that every product has an image of a real human wearing the product, and next to them is an image of an SL model wearing the same product. A shopper can either purchase the real product through the Playboy online store, or they can purchase an SL version of the product for their avatar to wear using Linden dollars. This was the only location of the three islands I found that actually makes money in SL.

I’d like to also add that the Playboy Island was the only location of my three choices to have actual users logged in.

With these three choices, I believe that the Playboy Island has done the most effective job in giving the SL audience an experience and giving themselves profit and advertising. While NBC and Dell both have different ways of offering an experience to the visitor, they both don’t really compare to that of the Playboy Island. NBC’s interactive activities only occur during specific events, so going at off times doesn’t seem worth it. Dell has some selling advantages with the computer factory, but it seems like the experiences a visitor could have there are limited to what activities are available and doesn’t really encourage social activity.

The Playboy Island gives visitors a reason to interact with other people, and encourage having a good time being social, which increases activity and can lead to purchasing items for avatars. That can also lead to online store purchases of the same products, generating more revenue. Plus, throughout the island, there are freebie sample products to wear, encouraging sales in the store for better products. They cover advertising and marketing, while giving visitors an entertaining experience. Not a bad strategy at all.

As for other brands trying to start up something in SL, they should really know who their audience is. People log into SL for different reasons, but the main reason in my opinion is to socialize and interact with other users. Any business going into SL, or starting in SL from scratch, should easily make money by taking advantage of that interactivity. Even with the Playboy example, a user may not be a fan of Playboy at all, but it still is an interesting location to meet up with people. I’m not necessarily saying that Dell should have a love bed available for people to shop for computers on, but utilize that attraction to socialization and give users a reason to want to go, stay, and return at a later time. At the bare minimum, it will at least give a company name some needed attention.

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~ by Cliff Huizenga on September 11, 2007.

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