Understanding the Metaverse and How It Could Impact Marketing

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At this point, most people on the internet have heard the word ‘meta’ and the ‘metaverse’, some have heard that it’s related to Facebook but not everyone completely understands what it actually is and its expansive potential. Meta is actually just Facebook rebranding to reflect the direction they are heading in; the metaverse.

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is the next evolution of social connection, the company Meta’s vision is to help bring the metaverse to life, so Facebook is changing their name to reflect its commitment to this future. The metaverse hasn’t been created by Facebook, the metaverse is simply a new concept for the internet in which users can interact in a virtual reality space online, with other users and in a computer-generated environment.

Currently, social media is 2D, the metaverse wants to create 3D spaces, similar to virtual reality. It will allow you to learn, socialise, play and collaborate in ways that go beyond our imagination. Over time as technology advances, it could be as if we are physically in these virtual worlds, communicating with others just like in real life. These virtual worlds will continue to exist even when you’re not participating in them.

However, it’s also related to the digital economy, a place where users can buy, sell and create goods. Conceptually, within the virtual world you could buy some trainers, then wear them the next day to a concert. This persona that you create will be able to be transferred from one platform to another.

Games such as Fortnite have already started exploring virtual reality with experiences such as purchasing tickets and attending concerts through VR headsets. This example shows a very small part of what the metaverse could be like, however this could never encompass the entire scope.

Even with having a snippet of what it could be like, the metaverse can still be hard to understand as it’s a concept that doesn’t exist in its full entirety.  Matthew Ball has outlined the key characteristics of the metaverse to help understand this further:

  • Always active – Even when you’re not participating, the online worlds continue on indefinitely, just like in real life.
  • Fully functioning economy – Users and businesses can buy, sell, create, own, invest and be rewarded for ‘work’ that provides value that’s recognised by others. Similarly to how jobs work in the real world.
  • Different platforms – Platforms will work together so data, digital items, and content will be able to be brought over from one platform to another. As an example, a car designed for Ferrari could be brought over to work in Roblox (an online gaming platform).
  • Populated by content & experiences – Users will be able to go shopping together, attend concerts, hang out with friends casually, and a wide range of other experiences. However, it’s not just virtual spaces, users will also be able to create content for others to enjoy.
  • Individual sense of presence – You’ll have your own avatar/identity to interact in the world. Users can participate in activities together and separately, you’ll be able to move around and decide whether or not you make interactions.
  • Fully functioning universe –  It’s a living experience that exists in real-time.

How do we access the metaverse?

There are new technologies that are being developed to bring this concept to life. A couple of these include:

Virtual Reality – You may have already seen VR headsets such as those created by PlayStation for gaming, this will be similar but a much more immersive experience. Quest 2 allows you to join friends and family virtually for movies, sports events, concerts, and many more experiences from the comfort of your living room, no matter where you are in the world. Combined with the metaverse, you will be able to explore new worlds and share experiences like never before, the possibilities are truly out of this world.

Augmented Reality – This allows you to enhance shared experiences through photos and video, using virtual effects on your screen. You’ll be able to do this on a variety of devices such as phones, tablets, laptops and gaming systems. Specifically for Meta, they are building Spark AR which is software that will allow you to easily use a range of AR features. This will be for all abilities, from simple and easy to use templates, to advanced customisations and controls. It will allow you to expand your digital creative skills, no matter the level.

Smart Glasses – A huge part of fully bringing the metaverse to life, wearable technology such as smart glasses will allow you to interact with the world around you. Ray-Ban has partnered with Meta for their first generation of smart sunglasses and eyeglasses; Ray-Ban Stories. With just a touch you’ll be able to record audio and video while being completely hands-free, available in 20 variations including their classic Wayfarer, Meteor and Round styles.

Even though these new technologies are being developed to enhance the experience, participation in the metaverse will not depend on if you have these technologies or not. Companies want to broaden access to the platforms for users and creators, with a variety of different entry points, including mobile phones and laptops.

When can we use the metaverse?

As previously mentioned, technology has already been created to allow the metaverse to come to life and it already exists to a certain extent. In regards to Meta which is a hot topic at the moment, we don’t have any information about when it will be released. Meta has said that:

“The metaverse will be a collective project that goes beyond a single company. It will be created by people all over the world, and open to everyone.”

What we do know is that it will take several years for it to be built, however, this means that there is plenty of time to work on the issues surrounding this and segments of metaverses that already exist.

What are the issues around the metaverse?

The biggest issues are diversity, equality, inclusion, and privacy. In regards to Meta, as it’s currently been built, they will be able to build their metaverse focusing on these issues from inception.

In order to tackle these issues, Meta has partnered with Howard University, as an initiative to strengthen diversity and increase equality in artificial intelligence. They have also announced that they will be investing $50 million in global research and program partners, in order to ensure that this platform and the technologies are developed responsibly. However, other important players in the space such as Microsoft, Epic Games and Roblox will also have to tackle these issues.

In regards to inclusion, it’s important that everyone can be included all over the world, regardless of language. Meta are working towards building new translation tools that will give users and creators the ability to participate equally, no matter their preferred language. Over time, artificial intelligence will be used to translate hundreds of spoken and written languages in real-time, there will be no language barriers.

Understandably, there’s a lot of concern around privacy due to the amount of personal data that could be collected from those who chose to participate in the metaverse. Even though companies can currently tailor advertising campaigns for the individual, the metaverse could take it to a whole new level due to how immersive it would be. Companies could be able to monitor facial expressions, vocal inflections, and other physiological responses and biometric data. We can imagine just how targeted advertising campaigns could become, however, this will develop alongside privacy laws.

How will the metaverse change marketing?

It’s important for digital marketers to keep up to date and understand the latest technological developments that are happening online, and part of this includes understanding the metaverse and its potential. They will need to learn and adapt as it grows and develops. There are several ways that this can be done, and a few companies have already started looking at marketing within virtual reality, we’ve discussed a few of these examples.

Metaverse marketing parallel with real life

In this collaboration between beer brand Stella Artois and digital horse racing platform Zed Run, they created 50 Genesis digital racehorse non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with first edition Stella Artois skins to auction. 

At first glance this might seem like a strange collaboration, however, Stella Artois regularly sponsors sporting events. Therefore, creating an online platform where NFT horses are bought, traded, raced and bred is a great entry into the metaverse.

The French luxury house Balenciaga has also joined the metaverse by collaborating with Fortnight, bringing the brand’s clothing and signatures into the game. Balenciaga also created a limited-edition ‘Balenciaga X Fortnite’ series of physical products to commemorate the occasion, which was extremely popular as it completely sold out online.

This isn’t the first luxury brand to step into the metaverse, Louis Vuitton partnered with League of Legends on both virtual and physical clothing, whilst Gucci partnered with Roblox on a virtual world. It’s a great move for those brands who want to tap into Gen Z through 2.7 billion gamers worldwide, with the global gaming industry now exceeding $300 billion.

Should I consider the metaverse in my marketing strategy?

The metaverse is only going to grow in popularity and improve with constant technological advances, it’s already becoming an integral part of digital marketing, especially in e-commerce, providing consumers with an unparalleled shopping experience. This is a unique opportunity for brands to reach customers in new ways, and come up with creative campaigns to engage and create a loyal following. As Gen Z is the dominant presence in the metaverse, integrating it into your strategy is key if you want to get ahead and keep your brand relevant in the future. It also allows businesses a new way to reach this valuable demographic.

As discussed, there are many ways your brand can thrive in the metaverse including selling virtual goods, NFTs, virtual showrooms, collaborations, and product customisation. It allows brands to reach a new audience, and the reach is boundless.

As the metaverse evolves, opportunities will continue to expand, with new ways for your brand to grow and thrive. At GA Agency, we are gaining expertise in how you can grow in the area of Web 3.0 and the metaverse and offer a range of digital marketing services such as SEO consulting and media buy. So if you’re looking for a strategic partner who can assist and take your marketing strategy to the next level, contact us!

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