The Machinimist Marketer: A virtual gold rush

Machinima, once banished to the realm of the basement dwelling geek, is now being let out of the closet and into the company of professional society. No longer relegated to fanboys, the cinematic art is finding a new life as a highly effective method of marketing.

A few factors have converged in recent years to help birth an entire new form of advertising. Movie editing software has been the Gutenberg Press of our time, making knowledge user friendly and cheap. All you need to do is learn the basics, and you too can be making movies.

The rise of word of mouth marketing has also contributed to machinima’s new life in the light. Bigger is not always better, and that is becoming ever more apparent to big business. Gone are the days of blind consumer trust; people are more likely to believe what someone tells them on FaceBook then listen to a supermodel on which beverage is best.

Machinimists have it made when it comes to cinematic production. With a plethora of virtual environments to choose from, almost no production costs and the ability to own and control multiple ‘actors’ simultaneously, machinima creation is a producer’s wet dream.

CSI New York filmed machinima in Second Life for a 2007 show. (Click image to watch video on YouTube.)

None of this would matter if the art had remained the realm of pelvic popping WOW avatars dancing to copyright infringed versions of Lady Gaga, but the corporate stars have been aligning recently, and business has focused its gaze on the underdog.

Paramount Pictures is so enthusiastic about low budget, big impact film making they have formed a whole new spin off studio called Insurge Pictures. With a miniscule budget (for them) of a mere $100,000 per project, $1 million total, they are tapping into the future of big bang for small buck.

As of this writing, machinima remains a largely untapped resource for marketing, but that is on the cusp of change. It won’t be much longer before mainstream advertisers realize the immense power ‘going viral’ has. Virtual worlds are an untapped resource just waiting for exploitation. Inexpensive, and more importantly, effective, creating custom costumes and sets cost pennies on the dollar. The results though, can be capitalized on endlessly via YouTube, FaceBook and the plethora of social options available in the cloud.

Cheap advertising that self replicates and targets Generation Y, one of the more powerful up and coming consumer groups, sounds too good to be true. Far from fantasy though, machinima is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with, wide open for new ideas and talent.

I’m excited to have the opportunity to explore this virgin landscape further for Hypergrid Business with this new column, The Machinimist Marketer. I’ll be covering all things machini-marketing from how it’s being used to where it could be used. As a business owner myself, I’m happy to experiment with this area first hand, and share the results. Virtual worlds are the last untapped frontiers, and there is definitely gold ‘in them thar hills.’ Join me via Hypergrid Business to stake your claim before the rush hits.'