Summary:

We called them cartoons, now they call them digital avatars. I was attending the DA Group’s Get Real: Get Virtual seminar in London, on usin…

We called them cartoons, now they call them digital avatars. I was attending the DA Group’s Get Real: Get Virtual seminar in London, on using animated characters in various fields, including marketing and mobile arenas. One word sums it all up: baloney. Besides the fact that almost all employees of DA Group spoke at the conference (really!), it was all one big advertorial. But then, that was what it was supposed to be, and it was free, so I can’t complain too much.

Of course, some good uses (outside of the gaming arena) have come out of the avatar space, like using characters to talk to the deaf in real-time translations, but in the marketing arena, after the novelty value wears out (Jim Beam has been using an avatar), all they remain is an irritant…does anyone remember Clippy? Did anyone really use Clippy? No. (Yes, I know, there’s always Ananova…)

Perhaps the only good use in the media sector I saw was the use in MMS technologies: using animated greeting etc…DA Group is launching a new product called Stereo Types, which in essence are a bunch of animated characters with different personalities, which you can send with your overlaying message using MMS. Very interesting, if you ask me, and bound to take off. Will companies like AmericanGreetings, which are huge online, take a pie of this market? I doubt it.

The only good speech was by Andrew Bud, the CEO of mBlox, one of the biggest SMS gateway operators in Europe. He is also the founding director of the Mobile Entertainment Forum, and hence brought his big-picture view to his speech (which unfortunately I had taped, but my recorder backfired). Among this interesting points, he said that even though premium rate SMS is all the rage now, within a year, customers will realize that they are spending a lot of money on these messages, and “wallet-damage” will begin limiting this market. However, by that time, the usage and penetration would be so high, and advertisers will start realizing the credibility of the medium, and will start subsidizing the medium, thus bringing back the free-to-air model. Creative brand uses will come out of that…

(Also see this cheeky report by Techworld: “Could Miss Whiplash keep users on their toes?“)

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