Virtual reality will play critical role in mass culture: MTV exec

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NEW YORK - Virtual reality is real and will play a key role in the future of online marketing, according to senior executives from Viacom's MTV Networks and Nickelodeon media properties speaking yesterday at the first annual Virtual Worlds Conference.

Jeffrey Yapp, executive vice president of MTV Networks, talked about the various MTV branded online environments and how these spaces allow brands to market directly to consumers. He cited the Laguna Beach environment as a positive destination for Pepsi, where 95 percent of consumers in the online world purchased Pepsi products to drink.

"Virtual reality may seem like a niche oriented space, but it will play a critical role in the mass culture of many," Mr. Yapp told attendees.

MTV is continuing to expand these virtual environments, debuting a virtual "Pimp My Ride" this spring.

Nickelodeon is also using virtually branded environments to engage consumers in the online world, as viewers shift from traditional television consumption models.

Nickelodeon's virtual online experience includes games, promotions and original content, and receives 11 million monthly unique hits. Memberships increased by 15 percent last month.

"Virtual worlds are becoming more important as the advertising models go from engaging to direct and the user demands more," said Steve Youngwood, executive vice president of digital media at Nickelodeon. "The engagement factor we have on TV can only be transformed to the online if the content is dynamic."

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