Friday, October 26, 2007

Marketing Methods: Second Life businesses leveraging CSI's in-world entry


Over at the Second Life Herald today (thanks, Tony), I was reading about an interesting phenomenon: That of SL businesses using the fact that the CBS TV show, CSI: NY, had done an episode inside the virtual world and that the show would likely be driving a lot of traffic, as a way to draw customers.

Essentially, Pixeleen Mistral pointed out, a number of businesses had added the Classifieds search term "CSI: NY" to the terms they use for their own operations with the goal of coming up in Classifieds results when the show's fans show up in-world and start to look for content related to the show.

Putting aside for a second the fact that CSI might not be all that happy that a bunch of adult-oriented businesses were taking advantage of its name, it is an interesting idea, and something to think about as you look for ways to increase your customer base, particularly because more and more well-known TV shows are going to be coming into SL, as well as new shows on big networks like HBO.

Here's the deal: If you pay enough for the Classified search term, say "CSI: NY," you may well come up near the top of the search results someone gets when they type that in. There's some upsides and downsides to this.

Let me deal with the downsides first.

The biggest risk of using this method is that you may end up annoying people who show up at your business thinking there's going to be some tie-in to CSI or whatever show you happen to buy the Classified term for. People don't want to end up in places that don't offer them what they're looking for, and in a word-of-mouth economy, you do run the risk of having people complaining that you're wasting their time. Unless of course, you actually do create some sort of tie-in.

And this downside is not to be taken lightly. You should think very carefully before you try out this method, particularly if you're a young business, because you can't afford to be pissing people off.

In addition, there may actually be some legal reasons why not to do this. I'm no lawyer, but it does strike me that it might be illegal to use a copyrighted term for your own financial benefit. However, this is not something that is all that likely to be a problem any time soon, I would think.

On the other hand, there could be some very real benefit in terms of the number of people who might follow the search and end up at your store. If you have something they might want, even if it's not related to CSI or another show, then maybe they'll stay and spend some money.

It's definitely a balancing act, it seems to me. And to be sure, there aren't going to be that many opportunities to leverage this. But there will definitely be some, as the CSI example demonstrates.

In the end, it may well not be something that you want to try out, but it's certainly another marketing method, albeit one that is taking advantage of the notoriety of others, and in SL, as some would say, anything goes when trying to build your business.

Just, I repeat, be careful.

2 comments:

Nexeus Fatale said...

Yes, your right be careful but there's a way of looking at this that I feel people are missing. Yes people are gaining on the hype by using the CSI keyword... but say CBS wanted to gain more popularity for their show or more information about it, they could have set up kiosks - or spaces could have offered advertisement space in their clubs for the upcoming show. While yes the way it is being done now is a bit shady it opens food for thought on a real business model that is legitimate.

daharrison said...

You can't copyright titles so I wonder if there is an exception to such a franchise somehow. This from your blog:

In addition, there may actually be some legal reasons why not to do this. I'm no lawyer, but it does strike me that it might be illegal to use a copyrighted term for your own financial benefit. However, this is not something that is all that likely to be a problem any time soon, I would think.