The metaverse. Sound familiar? Ring any bells? It’s creating large ripples and it may entirely change how we use and interact with the internet.
So what exactly is the metaverse? And how is it going to affect us? How is the world of marketing going to be affected by it?
Taking virtual and 3D to a whole new level
Simply put, the metaverse is a virtual shared space in 3D that allows users to experience things that would be impossible in the real world. All you need is an avatar – your virtual self – to have an immersive experience in this virtual world. Also, the metaverse isn’t a single entity. There are many with their own unique features and applications. Different organizations create their own metaverse and with the right tools and devices, anyone can participate or be a part of a metaverse. So, when one refers to “The metaverse,” they’re referring to a collection of all these 3D virtual spaces rather than just one.
Before delving into the exciting details, it’s worth noting the history of the metaverse. The term originated in the 1992 science-fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. However, it gained mainstream attention following the 2011 novel Ready Player One and the 2018 film adaptation. In recent years, the metaverse has become more prominent, with Facebook rebranding to Meta and announcing plans to create its own metaverse.
Ready, Headset, Go!
To gain access to the metaverse, you’ll need either a phone or a computer and a VR headset – a head device that covers the eyes of the wearer to give them the 3D experience. VR or virtual reality is an environment that lets you interact with it virtually but makes it feel like a physical experience. It stimulates a user’s various senses, and the experience varies depending on the device used. This can include AR glasses, motion controllers, smelling devices, etc.
In 2003, a platform called Second Life was launched and allowed users to create an alternate virtual world and life but do the same things that a person in the physical world would – pursue hobbies, build a career and make friends. It’s not as popular as it used to be but since then, many platforms and games like Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite have come to the forefront unleashing numerous possibilities for users in the metaverse.
Unlike a video game you can turn off, the metaverse is always on and active – a persistent virtual space.
So, why should marketers care about the metaverse? What is its importance in the marketing and advertisement industry?
The metaverse can do insane things for marketers
By entering the metaverse, marketers, and advertisers can expand their reach by promoting brands or products to a varied audience in a metaverse. Because of the countless possibilities, they can create innovative ways to advertise their products and wholly utilize the immersive metaverse experience allowing potential buyers to use the product in a virtual setting.
For example, the Italian fashion brand Gucci entered the metaverse via the platform and game The Sandbox. In this, Gucci Vault Land allows users to experience the history of Gucci in a gamified manner. Users can also purchase items to dress up their avatars which gives the brand insights into customer preferences.
Nike also has its metaverse space on the platform Roblox and hosts brand promotions in which fans can participate and socialize with each other.
The metaverse presents various opportunities for brands to engage with users and enhance their business. Brands can benefit from the metaverse in the following ways:
- Increased profits: While users can purchase products in the virtual world, it can also influence real-world purchases. Virtual interactions may persuade people to buy products in the real world, generating profits for brands.
- Enhance brand experience: The metaverse enables brands to engage users in innovative ways, such as through fashion shows or virtual tours. Moreover, brands can interact with consumers from around the world in the metaverse.
- Cost-effective product improvement: Brands can use the metaverse to save money by testing product prototypes virtually and gathering feedback from users before launching in the real world. This feedback can lead to product improvements, potentially leading to better consumer responses and higher profits.
Gucci, Nike, we get it. What about small businesses and individual marketers?
Brands and products depend on the whole idea of the immersive experience in the metaverse. Small businesses can do the same – even those planning to start a business. For example, if a user plans to set up a video game business, they can try it first in the metaverse. Based on how other users interact and engage with this business, plans can be made to move ahead with the business in the real world. Giving out products such as T-shirts, keychains, and coffee mugs in the metaverse can create brand awareness and may result in users seeking out the brand in real life.
Traditional marketing can still be used in the metaverse. Companies have a wide range of opportunities in terms of advertising options like VR billboards, product placements, NFTs, sponsored content, influencer marketing, immersive native ads, and more. The expanding metaverse is creating new opportunities for media ads. Pre-roll and mid-roll ads, promotional videos, social media posts and branding tags are among the metaverse advertisement options currently in use, as big corporations market their products across digital sports stadiums and other virtual areas. The companies can choose from several advertising/marketing options they think would be a good fit.
It may be difficult for individual marketers and freelancers to directly profit from the metaverse, but the kind of ideas they’ll be exposed to will be invaluable. The metaverse brings users from around the world making one-of-a-kind inter-user interactions possible. Copywriters may need to build their knowledge on metaverse lingo if they seek to succeed virtually but a metaverse can even provide a peaceful haven – which may not be physically possible – for writers to unleash their creativity.
Headsets for marketing agencies and marketers?
The question that arises is, will it be compulsory for marketing agencies to enter the metaverse? The answer is it’s hard to tell yet. We know now how the metaverse sets the stage for more innovative, creative, and immersive ways for agencies to broaden their horizons and release content that makes a mark. It also allows brands to create strategies to influence their target audience in the real world. The metaverse enhances how traditional marketing is done in the real world but, if we really think about it, the experiences and objects in the metaverse would not exist if the same weren’t already there in the physical world. Marketing agencies will continue to thrive but, entering the metaverse would be a huge bonus. As new possibilities arise in the metaverse, the opportunities would also be endless in the real world.