I'll be blogging and shooting videos over the next day and a half at the Virtual Worlds 2008 conference here in NYC. I'll also be posting updates on Twitter as well as here on the blog. If you have questions drop me an email or a Tweet. I'll update this post throughout the day.
Mattel toys actually has a Chief Barbie Girl who is focused on making sure that the Barbie brand stays relevant and engaging. Toy lines need to scale with kids to stay relevant to their lives. Barbie Girls is for girls ages 8+.
The barbiegirls.com world was named the fastest growing in a recent report. First world focused on girls with a unique, focused offering. Highly customized avatars allow a lot of combinations and more connection/engagement. The world allows socialization and friendships to be formed in a fun and very safe environment. The world allows for multiplayer games that bring girls together like the makeover game that allows people to become a stylist and interact with each other.
"Virtual worlds as the new playground." Kids now are digital natives and they think of toys differently. In 10 years, the people entering college and the workforce will be 100% savvy to virtual environments.
Some statistics from some Mattel-sponsored research:
- Just 39% of moms feel websites are safe and secure
- Just 38% use the tools to make the web experience safer
- 78% of moms are influenced by their offline trust in brands in their online interactions.
The Mattel model is Educate, Empower and Engage. E3.
Educate: Making parents comfortable and being transparent in the interactions. Allowing parents to understand how to monitor what their kids are doing. Making sure it's easy to understand. Also educating the kids so that they understand the safety features.
Empower: Allowing parents to monitor and update their daughter's settings. The experience is very empowering for the girls as well. Users have full control over who they make friends with and can be seen by. Blocking and reporting features are built in.
Engage: Taking steps to build a tool where the kid and parents can set their own rules and agreements. This encourages an up front conversation about the rules and expectations. Time spent, safety settings, etc. are agreed upon together.
The future of Barbie Girls. Moving to a subscription model with Barbie Girl VIPs. There will still be a free experience to allow any girl to connect. VIPs will be world celebrities. VIPs will have exclusive access to clothing, have virtual tiaras and access to VIP-only areas.
The world is seeing huge growth with between 20,000 and 30,000 new signups a day from around the world. That's amazing.
From the tradeshow floor:
Lots of interviews to come in the next week or so. The number, and breadth, of companies participating in the tradeshow is pretty impressive. Vendors surrounding all areas of the worlds from consulting companies to companies that build sims and avatars to the companies that run the world platforms to e-commerce companies and everything in between.
It's pretty interesting to see how down on SecondLife everyone is and how they really use the negativity surrounding that brand to compare/contrast their own offerings. I do have to say that I am amazed at how many different worlds there are out there with very specific demographic and geographic influence.
Pro-marketing. Second Life, for most intents and purposes is not a very friendly environment for marketers looking to enter the game. There are companies that you can work with to get you set up, but it's not right off the shelf. There.com runs the technology for MTV's virtual world offering and has a very pro-marketing approach to virtual worlds. They have set offerings that allow marketers to reach people through a variety of different tactics.
LindenLabs does have a new offering called SL Grid that lets you brand a private world and control what happens there. There.com has a similar model as does Multiverse. Look for interviews from these guys in a couple of days.