While digital marketing has seen many advances over the last few decades, the metaverse is one that has stumped many companies and marketers. How can they use the metaverse to their advantage so they aren’t stuck in the dark ages?
What Is the Metaverse?
The metaverse as envisioned by Matthew Ball, a venture capitalist and writer, and later on Zuckerburg, is “an expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations.”
Put more simply, the metaverse is a currently hypothetical version of the internet that supports online 3-D virtual environments. This is done through personal computing (a current example is the online game Second Life), virtual reality headsets, and augmented reality headsets.
Second Life for Metaverse
That’s not to say that elements of the metaverse don’t exist currently. There are games like Roblox and Fortnite that form the basis for what many consider to be the future of the metaverse. More specifically, virtual avatars who can interact with their virtual environment, and other players. They can also purchase merchandise in-game, such as clothing and decorative accessories, to personalize the experience.
Metaverse and NFT
An NFT, or non-fungible token, is anything digital that cannot be replaced as it doesn’t have a tangible value. The most common forms of NFT today are digital art like animations. However, within the metaverse, an NFT can become so much more.
According to Morgan Stanley, the multinational investment bank, NFTs have the potential to become a $56 billion market by 2030. How? All thanks to the demand the metaverse will create.
With the increase in virtual avatars, the demand for virtual fashion will skyrocket. The need to personalize oneself within the digital space is undeniable and fashion is one of the easiest ways to do so. Just look at the success of markets found on Fortnite and Roblox, virtual games with an avatar.
How Will the Metaverse Impact Marketing?
If you haven’t considered how the metaverse will impact marketing, then you’re already behind the curve. The metaverse isn’t an “if” but a “when.” That is, it’s an inevitability. The metaverse will impact marketing in many ways, some of which you can begin to implement now.
Virtual reality isn’t new. In fact, it’s been around in one variation or another for decades. Of course, it’s improved leaps in bounds in recent years, and it will continue to do so in the years to come.
From product development to the sale of existing products or services, virtual reality enables you to bring your customers into the fold. They can play an active role in all stages of the process. Who says “no” to free product research?
Even more, many customers will seek out such opportunities as opposed to hiding from them like they do with online advertisements. The generations coming of age now and in the next 15 years, largely Generations Z and Alpha, will feel more at home within these environments than any other generation before them.
Unlike virtual reality which takes over your vision, augmented reality just adds elements to it. Think of “smart glasses” or the popular mobile game Pokemon Go. These devices take note of your surrounding environment and then enhance it by adding images, animations, or data over the top of it.
Where does marketing come in? From trying on a pair of glasses or a dress to test driving a new car, augmented reality brings the shopping experience to another level. In an augmented environment, your customers can interact with your products without leaving their homes. Even in-store experiences will benefit from the metaverse, however. Since augmented reality is an overlay on the real-life environment, you can use it in stores to share in-depth information, display additional features and use cases, etc. Think of it as a parallel marketing experience.
Branding in The Metaverse
As the metaverse grows, so too will branding and advertising opportunities. Including virtual message boards, billboards, merchandise, and even the virtual clothing avatars wear.
NFTs will play a big role, too. With the ability to personalize avatars and spaces like “homes” and storefronts, you can create branded virtual content for your customers. This enables you to break into merchandising spaces you don’t currently work in, such as virtual apparel and digital art.
According to the Chief Metaverse Officer of Futures Intelligence Group, Cathy Hackl, it’s not so easy as going “direct-to-avatar.” That is, breaking onto the scene isn’t so simple as creating a virtual version of your merchandise. This is especially true for brands that don’t sell apparel, art, or other things easy to digitize. Brands have done it, though. Just look at Chipotle and even Gucci.
Popup shops are a common occurrence for businesses of all sizes. Whether it’s products or services you’re selling, a virtual popup gives you the opportunity to share your brand on a larger scale.
Similar to an in-person popup, a virtual popup is a chance to network, advertise, and sell your products and services. Whereas popups in a physical location may limit attendance (both due to space and travel required), a virtual popup helps you to reach a larger audience.
The virtual location will not only benefit attendance numbers, but it will also have less impact on the bottom line. With a decreased need for employee travel and lodgings, and no need to rent out physical space, you can cut costs and perhaps even decrease the end price for users.
Virtual Training or Classes
With so many live streaming and pre-recorded video platforms, virtual training and classes are already a big part of the corporate world. While many virtual trainings and classes will likely continue in their current form, the metaverse creates a space for them to expand.
Bringing real-world classes to virtual headsets worldwide, the growth opportunities are endless. Just imagine a virtual reality training course on your product or a use case walkthrough for your services. You can even use it for product demonstrations with potential customers or troubleshooting sessions with your current clientele.
Beyond marketing efforts, you can even use virtual classes for in-house onboarding and training. Emergency preparedness, diversity and inclusion, new employee orientation, and more.
In this post-COVID world, it’s easy to imagine the continued need for virtual meeting spaces. From family get-togethers to concerts to non-profit galas, the metaverse has no limits on who you can meet up with and when.
A recent example of such an event was the Lil Nas X concert that took place within the virtual world of Roblox.
With events like this becoming more popular, especially with Generations Z and Alpha, metaverse events won’t just be a tool you can use but a necessity. As your target audience changes, so too will your marketing efforts. This is just one example of how the metaverse will play a role.
You don’t want to wait until these types of events become popular before you hop on the bandwagon. You should consider hosting your own virtual event, whether through virtual reality or augmented reality, soon. There are even consulting agencies that can help you to host such events.
Why should marketers care about the metaverse?
As a second life for users, the metaverse provides an opportunity for marketers to reach their audiences in a new dimension. The metaverse expands the digital footprint of customers so as to provide a whole new look into their actions and behaviors.
How could businesses monetize the metaverse?
From opportunities to brand digital merchandise to offering virtual classes and popup events, businesses can monetize the metaverse in the same ways they can monetize their real-world counterparts.
While we speak of the metaverse in its future state, there are companies that contribute to its existence both now and in the future. Just a few companies currently “in” the metaverse are Facebook (Meta), Niantic, Epic Games, and Apple.
The metaverse, in its simplest, is a virtual community. With community is the need for connection. Companies can prepare for the future of marketing in the metaverse by taking steps towards building that connection. For now, this includes opening new commerce stores on Instagram Shop and Facebook Shop and even creating AR advertisements.