There are quite a number of posts out there on Second Life and politics and a really nice write up called Avatar Politics by Nancy Scola who worked with former Virginia Governor Mark Warner. For you Second Lifers it is nothing earth shattering and talks a lot about opinions on political advertising in Second Life; it does provide a nice primer for political marketing folks. My only issue with using Second Life for political advertising is that you need umm, people to communicate with.
Yes. People who sometimes translate into voters. You remember them right? Well, according to Second Life, right now as I write this there are a total 2,673,317 residents (accounts), 855,063 who logged in at least once in the past 60 days, and 20,507 online right now. There were over 122 million votes cast in the 2004 election and President Bush won it 62 million to 59 million. Can you see the problem math majors? Not enough volume, plus those Second Life numbers are worldwide and not US specific.
Second Life can not bridge real world via virtual meetings. Would you rather shake a candidate's hand in real life or have a screen shot next to their Avatar? How about a speech - in person or via a conference call? To me that is the difference between seeing Bruce Springsteen live in the pit or listening to scratchy bootlegs that a friend burned for you on a dirty disc. You know why Second Life avatars are easier to approach? Because they are NOT REAL PEOPLE.
Now, if you think this post is meant to put down Second Life or Nancy's white paper, it is not. I'm just trying to put it into perspective for 2007/2008. There are many things you can use Second Life for, but until the masses join in, it is just a playground for the young, techie audience. Don't believe me, try asking people outside of this demographic if they a) have heard of Second Life b) if they even visited their website. Then let me know what you think because these people will be voting in 1-2 years.
2008 will be won using online advertising and micro-targeting strategies. Campaigns will get a lot more out of streaming commercials, pre-roll video, and targeted buys online then they will with Second Life. The masses are moving that way now for news and information and continued adoption of broadband will only fuel that fire. For now, Second Life in the political world should be something to experiment with if you can squeeze out some time. While your competitors spend a lot of time wandering around looking for voters waiting for their screen to rez, you'll be busy winning an election because you pushed 10% of your offline advertising budget online.
BTW - sorry about the infrequent posts. I've been in DC for meetings with Connell Donatelli, but will be back home tomorrow.