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Is Virtual World Advertising Harmful to Kids?

Execs from social networking sites recently met and talked about marketing to children. The question was raised in a series of articles about who is watching out for children and pointing out that there are no standards in this arena.

Marketing to children isn’t new. However, social networks have a strong pull because they are so engaging and it’s easy to spend a lot of time interacting on a site. It’s more than passive viewing like other forms of entertainment, like watching tv. Online it’s even easier to blur lines between what’s real and what isn’t. That’s true even for adults.

How the BBC is going to kill Netscape

The UK’s public service broadcasting behemoth, the BBC, has been going through some tough times the last few weeks. However a major announcement has been lost through all the talk of job loss, changes in programming and shifts in budget. Soon all the international visitors to the hugely popular BBC website will be served adverts. With such a huge audience it promises to sound the death knell for struggling portals like Netscape.

Ciaran Norris over at Altogether Digital highlighted the potential problems for the other portals and news sites.

The BBC site apparently attracts over 40 million foreign visitors every year, which is a significant number… certainly enough to seriously disrupt the advertising models of major commercial portals such as AOL & MSN.

Amazon Increases Payout for Music Downloads

Amazon.com is offering affiliates a higher payout on Amazon MP3 music downloads to compete with Apple’s iTunes. At Amazon they call affiliates associates and typically their payouts aren’t very high – around 6%. But to boost adoption of their music downloads they are offering 20% commissions until January 2008.

Compare that to Apple that offers 5% commissions on iTunes. They also priced the downloads slightly lower – some are 98 cents at Amazon while iTunes are at 99 cents. Beginning on January 1st, commissions will drop to 10%, still double that of iTunes.

Amazon has one of the earliest and largest affiliate programs on the internet. Now some of those affiliates have an incentive to promote music along with Amazon’s other offerings.

The English Intelligence Service Recruiting Spies through Splinter Cell

In-game advertising really seems to be gaining some traction at the moment, and British Government intelligence organization, GCHQ, have taken the step of buying in game billboards to try and attract computer savvy graduates to consider becoming spies.

While the move isn’t quite as bold and the US military’s ‘America’s Army’ where a whole game and community has been developed to aid recruitment, it definitely shows more companies & organizations exploring the possibilities of in-game advertising.

GCHQ are using advertisement mimicking real world billboards within Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent on x-Box Live and across a number of other games including Rainbow Six: Vegas, Need for Speed Carbon & Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

Evian Water Debuts in Second Life

Evian Natural Spring Water’s marketing slogan is “The most important body of water is your own.” They are helping people improve their bodies – in the virtual world Second Life. Avatars just need to head to Evian vending machines and they can get a new skin.

Avatars come with standard bodies but you can buy another version to suit yourself. Evian says the skins they offer will not just be new but they will be more vibrant and have better texture (I’ve never noticed that level of detail but from the picture below the skin does look very smooth.)

When you buy water, there will be a pop-up with the offer. Choose a skin and you’re avatar will be transformed.

What Top Brands Spend on Advertising

Want to know what top companies like Microsoft, Google, and even Coca-Cola spend on advertising? Here’s a breakdown by percent of revenues in 2006, starting with the most first (according to this article):

  1. Microsoft – more than 20 percent of their annual revenue or $11.5 billion
  2. Coca-Cola – more than $2.5 billion
  3. Yahoo – more than 20 percent of their annual revenue or $1.3 billion
  4. eBay – 14 percent to 15 percent of its revenue – which was $871 million, much of that to advertise on Google
  5. Google – In the millions rather than billions of dollars – with $188 million
  6. Starbucks – $95 million

How Google Markets Products On the Cheap

“The best way to succeed is to have a really great product” – Seth Godin

Google lives by the philosophy that products lead marketing. Just like you know you’ve hit it big when other people create and maintain your MySpace page for you, you also know it when your customers do your marketing for you. It’s ironic that a company that provides advertising and marketing services for businesses doesn’t actually spend much time advertising their business.

According to an article in ReportonBusiness, they’ve sold more than $30-billion in advertising since 2001. But it wasn’t with expensive advertising. In fact if you don’t live in a major city or in California you probably haven’t seen or heard any ads for Google at all – except for online. Instead, Google puts money into development and hiring talented employees. Other online companies have built similar empires with little advertising – they spread virally. YouTube, MySpace and Facebook all take this approach.