Harvard Business Review is working on an article due June that considers the opportunities of advertising that targets the avatar instead of the player behind the computer. Highlights (verbatim):
-- The intensity of the experience makes an avatar "not a puppet but a projection" of some aspect of the creator’s self, says Philip Rosedale, the founder and CEO of Linden Lab, the company that produces Second Life.
-- Avatars can influence purchasing decisions or, at the very least, offer insights into their creators' tastes. Simply observing how inhabitants of a virtual world use a particular type of product or choose, say, their virtual vacation destinations can generate valuable information.
-- Companies may also be able to market directly to avatars in their virtual worlds, persuading them to, in effect, purchase real-world goods for their creators, just as those creators buy virtual-world paraphernalia for them.
-- Marketers may even discover ways to sell to avatars after they accompany their creators back to the real world.
Paul Hemp, Harvard Business Review Online, "The Avatar as Consumer".