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Virtual reality, the new platform for ads

October 20, 2008 13:27 IST

Social networking and virtual reality sites are the new hotspots for advertisers and companies hoping to push their products cutting through traditional billboards and door-to door sales.

Interactive websites such as 3D website and, SecondLife.com, are gaining popularity offering hassled company executives and CEOs a virtual identity to repackage their products.

Discussing the pros and cons of a product with consumers in a virtual world has become a trend now, says Ajay Ahuja, a corporate communications manager in a private firm.

"About 60 million people are registered in a 3D virtual world called SecondLife.com. Hence, it becomes easier for us to reach out to consumers and conduct sessions and forums for explaining the product's benefits," Ahuja says.

The virtual world has its own media too, which help in dissipating information about the product.

"The media in the virtual world is called 'Second Life Herald'. Here, journalists can also log on with a different identity and discuss the matter with consumers and well as product managers," he says.

A leading software company in India, in fact, has started a virtual network with a learning centre, an open pit for discussion and a volley ball court for relaxation.

The site, however, allows you to enter only you have been thoroughly checked by their own virtual security centre.

Chatting with friends on social networking sites like Friends Reunited, Orkut, Linked In, Facebook, MySpace, twitter and video sharing sites as YouTube are passe. These sites are now helping to get you employment too, Vishal Chopra, a public relations executive of another private firm. 

Hotels in the country are also putting up their newly-designed blueprints of buildings and asking their trusted customers to comment on them and suggest changes. 

"More than 50 per cent of all global firms are now using social networking sites to advertise availability of jobs," Chopra says.

"Financial institutions are now recruiting students and shortlisting them through their Facebook profiles. They later encourage them to contact their friends through the very same social network," he says.

Companies are now also promoting their products through social networking sites.

"A company called Crest in USA went through Facebook profiles of students of 20 US colleges and, in a bid to promote a dental hygiene product, awarded them free supermarket coupons," says Chopra.

Voting for reality television shows through social networking websites is another promotional campaign being carried out by production houses, he says.

"In fact, the former Indian Idol winner from Darjeeling, Prashant Tamang, was largely promoted as a winner through votes gathered through social networking sites such as Facebook," Chopra adds.

The Online Publishers Association, in a recent report, has said CEOs of major companies are using video sharing websites like YouTube to make important announcements, he says.                                                                                     

"About 44 per cent consumers have acted on what they saw in YouTube and three out of four people registered in the site have streamlined the promotional video and downloaded details about the product," he says.

Webchats are also becoming popular as a tool for interaction with the media.

"Webchats is term used for common chatting text messages. However, this method is now being used to promote your product through one-on-one interactive sessions with the media," Chopra says.

"There are also question and answer sessions with consumers, and chat transcripts are posted later on the site for other consumers to know the details," he adds.

Prantick Majumder in New Delhi
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