First things first. What the heck is the Metaverse? Simply explained, think of the Metaverse as a video game, except there is no objective, no winners and no losers. Sure, you can play games in the Metaverse, but you can also hang out with friends, go shopping, watch movies, attend concerts, and even work. Think of it as Web 3.0, and the next generation of our online experiences.
Using augmented reality hardware, such as virtual reality headsets, and exploring augmented reality universes, people in the Metaverse can enjoy a completely immersive experience anywhere, any time. The closest thing we have right now to experiencing a true Metaverse experience is in games like Fortnite and Roblox. These platforms offer shared virtual and 3D space that facilitates experiences beyond gaming. Their reach is incredible. Roblox, now a public company, has 43.2 million active users each day. Fortnite routinely has between six and 12 million active users daily. Fortnite’s creator boasts they had over 350 million registered accounts in 2020.
The continuous rise of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is starting to penetrate the internet.
The Metaverse is basically the next generation in computing. It’s a concept of the future of the internet that brings the physical world together with new technologies that allow people to interact with one another through their online persona, or avatar, and do things they could only dream of in the physical realm—like fly, breathe underwater, ride in a spaceship, go shopping on Mars. All along the way, advertisers will have the chance to get their message in front of these virtual adventurers, but it has to be in a way that complements the environment.
Advertising in the Metaverse is all about brand experiences.
The more engaging and exciting and less invasive the messaging the better. But it has to fit the environment and appeal to those already interacting within it. For instance, clothier Balenciaga launched its own dystopian game called Afterworld, which, of course, showcased its futuristic clothing line. Nike collaborated with Fortnite to promote its new Jordan sneakers and even enlisted rapper Travis Scott to perform a virtual gig that was “attended” by more than 12 million (viewers). In fact, Nike’s virtual stores for Air Max 720 actually dissed physical retail stores as “so 2k18”, which was a direct appeal to a Gen Z audience.
So, when will we all be communicating and experiencing life in the virtual and augmented reality world?
It’s coming, and as the Gen Z’ers who proliferate the Metaverse age, it will become an increasingly important tool in the marketing arsenal. For now, though, the technological requirements of the Metaverse, and accessibility to it remain a challenge. Not everyone can afford higher-end computers and VR lenses to authentically experience the Metaverse, which limits the potential for mass marketing at this very moment.
But change is coming.
The proliferation of 5G networks is certainly speeding up more acceptance and adoption of the use of the Metaverse. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, and cryptocurrencies are paving the way for real economies in the virtual world. This gives brands an entirely new platform for engaging people and doing business with them.
But companies need to take a hard look at their brand’s unique DNA to see how it fits logically in this new sphere. Companies need to also remember that the Metaverse is populated by real people, and the same principles of communication and buyer journeys exist, just on a different plane. Within such immersive environments, advertising has the very real potential to become disruptive and rejected. Since the Metaverse is the internet as envisioned by gamers for gamers, advertisers should think like a gamer to captivate and ad experiential value to those audiences it seeks. Think beyond just running a digital billboard at a virtual football game. Instead, imagine if one of the players actually entered a changing room to try on a newly launched sportswear line.
One of the fastest-growing trends in the Metaverse has been the rise of the direct-to-avatar economy, where brands sell digital products to enhance user’s avatars. These products can be clues that can be purchased to unlock special privileges in games or clothes that transform the avatar’s appearance. By 2025, experts expect the market value of in-game purchases to surpass $74.4 billion.
How can you take advantage of the Metaverse today?
You might already be using the Meta tool in Facebook to schedule posts and create ad campaigns. My new website, which just launched last week, is an example of Web 3.0. It was designed for a mobile device primarily, and offers a clean experience without taxing the user or expecting too many clicks to reach information. Why mobile? Because 72 percent of Americans today use their mobile device to access the internet. That means more and more people are immersing themselves through their devices, which will ultimately lead to the increased use of products like Oculus and Google Lens VR goggles to access the internet as well as experience the Metaverse in all its mind-blowing beauty.
Start thinking about how your brand looks in a more compact digital space, and how it can logically expand into this brave new world. You don’t have to jump into the Metaverse feet first right now, but savvy marketers and advertisers are certainly keeping their eyes on where it will take us in the coming years.