Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent a considerable amount of time discussing the metaverse during his quarterly results call in late July. "It's a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces,” he said. "You can kind of think about this as an embodied internet that you're inside of rather than just looking at. We believe that this is going to be the successor to the mobile internet.”
This might sound all too familiar if you think back to the much heralded second life platform, which failed to gain traction. But because of the pandemic and the general public getting used to doing everything via digital means, the metaverse will be a whole different beast. All signs point to massive potential and possibilities, including the opportunity to completely redefine how we interact with consumers.
Isabel Perry, director of technology at Byte (part of Dept) noted, "Metaverses are jam-packed with innovative marketing potential, (ranging) from live shopping to virtual stores, fashion shows, product launches, content production, live flagship events, enhanced social, pimping-up of Zoom calls and NFTs paving the way for real economies. The possibilities that this hybrid digital/physical world offers are near-endless. It's time for forward-thinking brands to get involved.”
The metaverse is the next marketing channel
The metaverse signals a move beyond traditional advertising toward creating brand experiences that are more engaging and exciting and less invasive than what we experience with digital advertising today.
Conventional offline and online advertising methods such as flagship shops, large billboards and other types of traditional offline and internet advertising are becoming a thing of the past. Every age group, from the very young to the very old, is becoming engaged by new innovations, ranging from contextual targeted advertisements to Instagram influencers all the way up to platforms such as Twitch, TikTok, Fortnite and Roblox.
For those looking to build a relationship with the new generation of consumers today, the phrase “in real life” has taken on a whole new significance. Digital alone is not sufficient; it must also be interesting, meaningful and immersive. And this is precisely what the metaverse will accomplish for brands in the near future.
For example, Balenciaga launched its dystopian game Afterworld, showcasing its futuristic clothing line. Fortnite, a player-versus-player game played by hundreds of millions in the Gen Z age group, collaborated with Nike to promote its new Jordan sneakers and teamed up with rapper Travis Scott for a virtual gig to an audience of over 10 million. And the hugely popular esports game League of Legends collaborated with Louis Vuitton for its latest world championship.
Among other examples, Nike materialized virtual stores for its Air Max 720, calling out physical lines in shopping streets as: "so 2k18.” Meanwhile, ComplexLand recently had an interesting take on the metaverse by creating a free, open-world, shoppable virtual destination. And non-traditional games like Axie Infinity even take these new virtual worlds and mix them with real-world economics, allowing many individuals to rely on this as their primary source of income.
New technologies are providing a boost
Hardware is becoming more compact, quicker and more intelligent. Thanks to 5G, almost everywhere now has fast, dependable connectivity. In the metaverse, computer vision is becoming more intelligent, allowing for both visual and audible help. All of this contributes to the immersion of the experience, making the transfer of knowledge and experience more rewarding and human.
Paul Doyle, director of product management for Unreal Engine at Epic Games put it best: "Much like the internet and mobile technology were major transformations and major technical ages, now we're about to hit a virtual age. And it's going to be awesome.”
This is essential for businesses who want to put their customers first. And the metaverse is rapidly becoming the focal center of all of this activity.
Non-fungible tokens signal a new frontier for the digital economy
Thanks to NFTs the metaverse has paved the way for real economies. NFTs are about ownership of something unique that cannot be replaced by anything else. They create unique, one-of-a-kind ownership for the likes of digital art, a music performance or a digital asset.
This means brands have access to an entirely new universe for engaging people and doing business with them, just as they would in the physical domain. It's entirely possible that these metaverses will actually exceed the physical universe economy in the future and open the door for limitless possibilities in owning equity in the digital universe.
The time to take action is now
If you're a marketer dazzled by the possibilities a nascent sphere like this offers, you might ask, "What do I need to do with my brand in the metaverse?” The answer is to start with the basics: Investigate what's out there, have a hard look at your brand's DNA and find what suits you best.
Don't forget that the metaverse is still ultimately populated by (real) people who give your brand new ways to grow and stand out. So stay in the loop and don't wake up one day wondering where everybody went.
See you in the metaverse!