I’ve been playing World of Warcraft (WoW) for fun the past couple of weeks or so. It was a fun game in the beginning, but now it’s a useful game, at least in the sense of honing two vitally important skills, arbitrage and information asymmetry. (two skills, I might add, come in handy in today’s economy)

World of Warcraft ArbitrageTo the right is a screen clip of WarCraft as it appears with a few pricing plugins installed. By itself, the doesn’t look at all like this, only with some plugins. (Auctioneer, if you’re a WoW gamer) Take a look at what’s in there.

Pricing
Median buyout price
Buyout prices at the extremes
3, 7, and 14 day moving averages of prices
Item availability from vendors and pricing
Resale valuation and estimated ROI

Bear in mind, the average player of WoW doesn’t install this add-on software, which means they don’t have access to this information.

What does this have to do with marketing? There are two concepts at work here.

Arbitrage is unequal pricing for equal things. In this example, I can tell what items are good deals and what items aren’t, what items are a bargain, what items are overpriced. Arbitrage extends to marketing and new media as well – concepts that work in proven systems can be adapted to new media, and the result is information arbitrage. I can take a concept like a proven sales letter template and adapt it for a blog.

Information asymmetry is even more important in this case. I have access to information that the average WoW player does not. This allows me to be more effective as a WoW gamer, because I can earn rapid profits from better information, especially competing against players with less information or lower quality information. Marketers in new media have an information asymmetry advantage that marketers outside of new media don’t enjoy. Marketers in new media have access to the Twitter stream, to blogs, RSS, podcasts, and so much more. If you can know what your target market is thinking and saying about your product, service, or industry, you have a massive advantage over marketers who lack that information and either have to compete by spending more or can’t compete as well.

Arbitrage and information asymmetry – all from a fun game.

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