Inside massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPG) are huge virtual economies that are ready for advertising:
these economies are becoming increasingly important, says Wharton Legal Studies Professor Dan Hunter, adding that they could redefine the concept of work, help test economic theories and contribute to the gross domestic product in the U.S. “Increasingly, these virtual economies are leading to real money trades,” notes Hunter, one of a handful of academics closely following this trend. (Forbes)
Analysts estimate that the total in-game market could reach $1.5 billion in 2005 (Online Media Daily). As these markets grow so will the advertising opportunities. Kendall Whitehouse notes the insight these economies give us into real economies:
“It’s really amazing that this hasn’t gotten more attention. You can learn a lot from these worlds.” (Forbes)
Advertisers see social networks as free focus groups. Already, Apple Computers has bought the right to start groups on Facebook, roping college kids into an advertising campaign by dangling the prospect of a free iPod.