Way too early to write off virtual worlds: Joel » Media in Canada

Way too early to write off virtual worlds: Joel

Mitch Joel, president of Montreal's Twist Image, is MiC's final pundit in our year end/new year's series. If you missed any of the other think pieces, check out the links at the end of this story.

MiC‘s final pundit in our year end/new year’s series featuring the views of diverse marketing professionals is Mitch Joel, president of Montreal’s Twist Image. Among the things that worried him in 2007 was seeing brands making the mistake of walking away from Second Life.

MiC: What surprised you in ’07 and what do you applaud?

‘When you’re in marketing, there’s not much that can surprise you. In 2007, we saw the rise of online video continue, we saw Facebook walk past MySpace and something simple like 140 characters to answer the question: What are you doing? (aka twitter) take over as well.

‘Add in the Jesus Phone (I mean, iPhone) and we’re just getting started (OK, so we’re all still waiting for the iPhone in Canada – but we felt its presence). I applaud the fact that Dove managed to follow-up ‘Evolution’ with ‘Onslaught,’ and that more and more companies are taking a much more serious look at the digital landscape. I’ve always said this was not a fad!’

MiC: What happened last year that dismayed or worried you?

‘There were two major worries for me. One was spam. Now it’s getting to the point where even people we know (and love) are spamming us. It might be as annoying as constant invites to different stuff via Facebook, or being bcc’d on emails with links to news items. Even people who have ‘permission’ are blasting out nonsense just because they can. The rules of email and how (when) to contact someone are evolving. You may be a spammer and not even know it.’

‘The second negative for me was the quick reverse on virtual worlds. A lot of brands left Second Life in 2007. I don’t think virtual worlds are dying – I think we have yet to really get started. Let’s give it time for the technology to get easier and for more and more people to be interested. We’re almost there (just not quite), and I think it’s way too early for marketers to be writing this channel off.’

MiC: What trends or issues are you spying for 2008?

‘Real community. Marketers threw around the word ‘community’ like crazy in 2007, but I think it’s going to take on real meaning in 2008. We’re going to really learn (and see) what it means to be a peer to our consumers, and not the master-slave scenario we’ve become accustomed to through our control on mass media. (In case you were wondering, marketers were the masters).

‘This is going to happen through the idea of providing help marketing – really helping our consumers connect, not just to our brands but to one another. It’s not a trend or issue – it’s what’s on the horizon for marketers. Are you up for it?’

MiC: What do you see as the next big opportunity?

‘Content. Really pushing beyond advertising into the world of content. Providing information and connecting consumers to what they want (and need). I think marketers have been told – for a long time – that ‘we’re in the content game.’ Take a look at what’s happening. From blogs and podcasts to the publishing industry, content is the next big opportunity.

MiC: What do you see as the next big looming threat?

‘Marketers’ inability to figure out how to make money in the digital channel and in the content business. The structure is a far cry from how most advertising agencies work (and make huge revenues). We all need to rethink how this industry is going to look in five years, and we have to do it now. Otherwise, we risk winding up being where the music industry is today.’

Missed any of MiC‘s pundit offerings? Check out these links:

Chris Staples: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20071210/chrisstaples.html

Marian Salzman: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20071211/mariansalzman.html

Tony Chapman: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20071212/tonychapman.html

Laura Gaggi: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20071213/lauragaggi.html

Bruce Claassen: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20071214/bruceclaassen.html

Adam Froman: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20071217/adamfroman.html

Maggie Fox: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20071218/maggiefox.html

Scott Goodson: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20071219/scottgoodson.html

Karen Best: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20071220/karenbest.html

Jason Oke: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20071221/jasonoke.html

Sunni Boot: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20080103/sunniboot.html?word=boot.html

Fred Forster: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20080104/fredforster.html?word=forster.html

Nick Barbuto: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20080107/nickbarbuto.html?word=barbuto.html

Andrew Braunston: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20080108/andrewbraunston.html?word=braunston.html

David U.K.: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20080109/daviduk.html?word=U.K..html

David Feldt: http://www.mediaincanada.com/articles/mic/20080110/davidfeldt.html?word=feldt.html