If you think advertising in electronic games just means putting up a soft-drink brand billboard in a sports game, think again. While the hot area is youth-oriented brands doing product placements in action games, the emerging medium is brand development, testing and loyalty programs in virtual reality games like Habbo Hotel and Second Life. Trendwatching has done an exhaustive round-up of all the participating brands, what they've tested so far, with results for a few of the campaigns. One of the most intriguing areas is virtual product testing and exclusive pre-launch offerings, especially for brands with a fashion edge. You can't taste a beverage in Second Life, but you can try on a new outfit and see how fellow participants react before you order one in real life.
Trendwatching.com: July 2006 trend briefing Youniveral Branding, Part 1
Online worlds exist, consumers are living in them, they don't mind brands joining in (to a certain degree, of course) and a host of firms and agencies are ready to assist newcomers. Oh, and It's actually fun too, as it's not just consumers who enjoy creative freedom the moment physical borders disappear: that privilege is available to marketers as well. You can build and open a store in days. You can introduce virtual goods and services that would take years to develop and produce in the real world.