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As sales slow across the country in nearly every industry, huge potential still exists in the digital world. Specifically, the opportunity to increase brand awareness in virtual communities and social networks, which, ultimately, lead to real-world sales.
Companies advertise and even “sell” online versions of their products on sites like Zwinky, Gaia Online and Facebook. Although very little money ever changes hands, the real and virtual worlds of commerce are continuing to merge.
Owners and operators of virtual worlds and social networks get real cash for allowing companies to participate in their virtual economy – similar to product placement in TV shows. Brand managers accrue measurable advertising. Real-world retailers sell gift cards, redeemable within the virtual worlds and communities for “fantasy” currency.