If you are using the internet, it is improbable that you have not come across the term Metaverse. It appears to pop up with the same feverish frequency as the latest meme, and we can no longer dismiss it as some jargon spouted by tech enthusiasts to appear modern (1).
The term Metaverse is turning into a looming reality.
Global Market Capitalization of the Metaverse, Meta, and Gaming in Trillion USD (as of October 2021)
Often people define Metaverse as “virtual reality on steroids.” However, unlike VR, which is primarily used for gaming, Metaverse is more like an immersive virtual world that we can use for about anything (2).
We can choose to work there, play games, host a party, a music concert, or even hang out with friends. Metaverse allows us to experience all this through a 3D, virtual representation of ourselves, similar to the movie Avatar (3).
It also reminds us of the Second Life game, all in the rage in the early 2000s. It was named Second Life as an allusion to how it separated people from their real or first lives (4). While in Second Life, people live a fictional existence, a version of our first lives in the virtual world, the Metaverse will be a virtual extension of our reality.
People will encounter real concerts, brands, and people in the Metaverse. People will also spend real money to purchase virtual or real assets. In other words, a virtual headset will transform the internet into a 3D parallel universe. As someone called it, the Metaverse will transit us from scrolling to strolling the internet (5).
We can already imagine the opportunity in the new Metaverse world for marketers, brands, advertisers, and creators. Our creativity is currently limited to a few mediums, but the rise of Metaverse will open up a whole new universe to us.
Brands like Nike and Ferrari have already spotted an opportunity and started foraying into the Metaverse (6).
We believe that Metaverse is set to build a global economy, several times more than the present one, and businesses will be history if they fail to seize this opportunity. And we are not making this up.
A brisk Google search will reveal how companies such as Gucci, Hyundai, and Warner Brothers have created virtual worlds (7). Companies like Coca-Cola are selling NFTs, and HBO and Nike are exploring AR/VR experiences (8). Facebook rebranded itself as Meta and planned to spend more than 10 billion USD on becoming a Metaverse company in the upcoming five years (9).
The most exciting part about the Metaverse is how it is creating new opportunities, especially for creators. You can imagine the thrill of filmmakers as the Metaverse will allow them to create a film not for “viewers” but for “participants.” Consider this; if a movie like Fast and Furious has a thrilling car chase scene, we won’t passively watch it. The Metaverse will make us feel like we are actually in the cars that are part of the scene. Wouldn’t it make everything more thrilling?
We also see tremendous opportunities for travel companies who, with the Metaverse, will be able to organize an immersive tour of, say, Sri Lanka, complete with sounds, smells, and sights as an ad for the real trip?
How about purchasing a pair of Nike shoes or a Gucci bag in the Metaverse via cryptocurrency, and you get an identical pair delivered to your doorstep in the real world? Or vice versa?
The Metaverse and the Developer Space
So far, marketers have used the Metaverse to build immersive experiences for customers waiting to live in their products. Brands often deliver their promise with a distinct mood, tone, and aesthetic that could have been challenging to gain via organic content (10).
That’s where AR enables brands to approach their prospects via a more engaging and interactive experience. We all see it helping brands increase their brand awareness, promote new offerings, and even reckon customer feedback.
Content creators can also consider leveraging the Metaverse and emerging technologies that can help them offer their content in an enhanced and more immersive way, especially when it comes to animations and simulations.
Yes, the Metaverse is still a long way off from becoming operational, and there’s still the possibility that it will never happen. At the same time, we also can’t deny the possibility that it may look completely different from what we conceptualize it today.
Yet, it is easy to see how content creators can perceive tons of opportunities in the Metaverse.
We believe that while big tech companies such as Meta and Google may initially supply VR headsets, Individual creators will be crucial in bringing the Metaverse to life.
“Developers and creators will, at the end of the day, be the ones to build the Metaverse and bring it to life.,” stated Mark Zuckerberg of Meta. He also mentioned how he expects hundreds of thousands of people who will create and sustain the virtual world (11).
“However, it can only happen if there is an economy to support them. It is important that developers and creators can make a good living from working in the Metaverse,” stated Zuckerberg.
It is worth noting that Meta plans to ensure that entrepreneurs, creators, and developers will have several income opportunities for participating in the Metaverse. It includes creators who build digital objects, offer experiences and services, and create virtual worlds.
“Content creators have always relied on social media platforms to make a career, and this trend is unlikely to change in the future, if anything, as the Metaverse begins to take shape. Our goal is to offer a way for as many creators as possible to build a business in the Metaverse,” stated Vishal Shah, VP of Meta (12).
How Can Creators Gain Maximum from the Metaverse Environment?
Meta has shared some recommendations and forward-thinking ideas for how creators can gain maximum from the Metaverse; some of them include:
- A Horizon marketplace: A virtual store to share and sell digital items
- VR events: Host or participate in live concerts, book readings, political debates, exclusive parties, and other events
- Sell digital merchandise: Creators can sell their work of avatars to wear or put in their virtual homes
- 3D virtual objects in the real world: Creators can place their 3D digital objects in the physical world for people to interact
We can see the implementation of many of these ideas already happening. For instance, take a look at the frenzy over NFTs. And if the trend continues, it is easy to see how the Metaverse can offer new opportunities for creators.
Zuckerberg had also claimed that the next year, creators will be able to “connect different physical locations into a cohesive AR storytelling experience.”
The Impact on Online Communities
Meta had also emphasized that the Metaverse will make a new way for brands to connect with their audience. However, we don’t recommend companies to entirely rely on Metaverse even in the future and keep a variety of means to reach their audience. Remember how several businesses suffered losses because Facebook was down for almost 8 hours a few weeks ago (13)?
For now, we believe it is best for developers and creators to keep an eye on all the latest developments happening in the Metaverse as it continues to evolve. You will be in the position to reap the biggest reward if you remain well-informed and among the first movers.
To stay on top of the latest technological advancements, digital marketers must step up their game. And it includes understanding the Metaverse, its potential, and that it could be the next big thing.
How would you adapt to Metaverse?
First, you need to understand the value of Millenials and Gen Zers as the target prospects. These two generations are also avid users of emerging Metaverse forms like Roblox.
Next, you will need to build marketing experiences that align with what your brand does at the moment.
For instance, Stella Artois, a beer brand of AB InBev, created a Tamagotchi-like experience crossed with the Kentucky Derby (14). The company did because the brand is already big on sponsoring sports events, particularly horse races. Therefore, they built a platform where people can trade, breed, and race NFT horses, a natural entry point.
Other examples include Google Maps’ demonstration of an AR feature with walking directions. It offers exact visual instructions and arrows that make it easier for users to find their destinations (15).
Dimension Studio also made over 6.5 million USD with their Metaverse for fashion brands. The company established a virtual production set-up that allows people to step onto a platform, scan by over 106 cameras, and send them to a virtual world where they can try apparel and other items. Dimension Studios are best known for their work on the Afterworld game of Balenciaga for Autumn/Winter 2021 (16).
Here are some prominent marketing methods we found:
Brands can offer virtual ads in the Metaverse. For instance, Bitstack, a video game ad tech firm, transitioned from working in real-world outdoor ads to placing ads on virtual billboards (16).
However, marketers can go beyond virtual billboards. Since the Metaverse is immersive and experiential, it is best to offer the same immersive experience in your marketing campaigns. You can consider offering branded installations and events that people can interact with instead of only placing simple ads.
We have already seen early movers who have started offering immersive experiences such as Gucci garden experience visits, the Lil Nas X concert in Roblox, and the virtual rendition of the Washington Heights neighborhood to promote In the Heights from Warner Bros (17, 18).
People love to collect things, and the Metaverse is yet another place for people to showcase their interests and assets. Marketers can create the same experience by offering limited-edition items or assets that they can only collect in the Metaverse.
User-generated Content Continues to Remain Important even in the Metaverse
People are annoyed by advertisements in general; hence marketers, entering the Metaverse need to ensure that they don’t aggravate users. Instead, they should focus on achieving positive reception, and one best way to do it is by engaging with existing communities in the Metaverse.
You never enter a new platform without considering the particular format of that platform. The same is the case with the Metaverse. For example, brands gain more traction in Roblox when they partner with existing members of the Roblox developer communities to build new experiences and items. The same was the case with O2 when it hosted a concert on Fortnite. They had collaborated with creators who were already a part of the Fortnite platform (19).
It’s also characterized as an influencer marketing campaign. Remember, user-generated content has always remained prominent among users and is likely to continue even in the Metaverse. Hence, be sure to include community members as an integrated part of your marketing campaign execution.
Try to Be Unique and Experimental
While we can find many guiding principles that offer marketers insights on what strategies will work in the Metaverse, it is still a new platform. Meaning there is plenty of room for experiments, an exciting time for marketers indeed!
There have not yet been any established practices nor any comprehensive creation of any paradigms. It gives marketers plenty of room to be unique and experiment with their approach.
And it makes us wonder about how Indian companies are preparing for the new revolution brought by the Metaverse? Of course, several Indian startups are working on developing the Metaverse. However, we are yet to hear any significant move by companies or brands to enter the virtual universe.
We are sure; however, there are plenty of feverish activities behind the scenes. And as the Metaverse starts to emerge, we will see more companies and creators there. It is inescapable, and it is coming.