Five years ago, the term metaverse was pretty much solely reserved for use by sci-fi fanatics and as a source of inspiration for the seemingly incoherent ramblings of eccentric tech billionaires. However, within the span of just a couple of years, this niche term has quickly evolved into a household name of sorts.
While recent events such as Facebook’s announcement of its rebrand to Meta, and Google’s 11-figure acquisition of Activision Blizzard have made us vaguely familiar of this concept, the truth of the matter is that it still remains a largely ambiguous term for many.
This article will help to illuminate what some may feel remains to be an obscure idea, and to also provide guidance on how business owners and marketers alike can begin preparing to compete in this burgeoning realm.
What is the metaverse?
Before we jump into the various strategies you can take to become successful at marketing in the metaverse, we feel that it’s essential to give you a brief introduction into the history of this concept and how it has facilitated what many consider to be a seismic shift for the marketing industry.
The first mainstream conceptualization of a three-dimensional, virtual metaverse is often credited to Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash. The novel details the emergence of a futuristic, dystopian society in the wake of a massive, global economic crash.
The story contains all of the usual trappings of societal inequities, hypercapitalism, surveillance, and corrupt policing and has been a noted source of inspiration for tech magnates such as Sergey Brin and Jeff Bezos.
Okay, great – so, what exactly is the metaverse?
The metaverse is essentially an immersive, virtual environment which is meant to emulate that which we experience in the real world. In the metaverse, humans are represented by characters called avatars and are able to live, socialize, work, own property, buy, trade and sell goods with various forms of cryptocurrency.
If you happen to be a millennial, then chances are that one of your earliest experiences of something like a metaverse might have been the massively popular EA video game The Sims.
But the metaverse is more than just a video game. As venture capitalist Matthew Ball put it to the New York Times, the metaverse is quickly moving into the realm of “ambient computing… It’s about being within the computer rather than accessing the computer. It’s about being always online rather than always having access to an online world.”
While the concept of the metaverse might feel brand-spanking new, the truth of the matter is that the public has been exposed to concepts of the metaverse for years courtesy of the entertainment industry. Movies such as The Matrix, Total Recall, and Ready Player One are all hinged upon this concept of a dual existence in both the physical and virtual worlds.
However, it could be easily said that the gaming industry has been the quickest to truly capitalize on the potential of the metaverse.
Games such as Fortnite and Roblox have exploded with popularity, however, for the most part, have remained highly centralized. Users can create, expand, and thrive in these metaverses, but are unable to cross-over between each one.
Many feel that the future of the metaverse lies in the transference of one’s virtual existence among various platforms and that technologies such as blockchain and NFTs are quickly ushering in the “dawn of a decentralized era”.
Why market in the metaverse
According to a US Census Bureau 2019 American Community Survey, prior to COVID-19, approximately just 6% of employed individuals worked primarily from home. Fast-forward to September 2021 and a Gallup survey reflected that a whopping 45% of full-time employees were working either partly remotely or fully remotely. Even more interesting is the fact that the research hypothesized that remote work is not only persisting, but “trending permanent”.
Now more than ever our real lives are intertwined with the digital space leading to a virtual existence. This makes an environment ripe for a concept such as the metaverse.
Furthermore, Gartner recently cited the metaverse as one of the “top five emerging trends and technologies for 2022”. This is largely in part due to the fact that virtual reality and augmented reality technologies and use of these technologies is on the rise. In fact, global spending on these technologies is expected to grow significantly from $12 billion in 2020 to an astounding $72.8 billion in 2024.
However, probably one of the more significant reasons that companies are pouring cash into the metaverse is that doing so allows them to remain in touch with and relevant among the millennial and Gen Z demographics.
Recent research conducted by Harris Poll cited that 38% of Gen Zs and 48% of millennials felt that the metaverse was “the next big thing” and would become “a part of [their] lives within the next decade”. Furthermore, the same research also found that 7 out of 10 Gen Zs and millennials were “interested in interacting with the metaverse”.
But don’t take Harris Poll’s word for it. All one has to do to see the value and potential of metaverse experiences is look to popular video games such as Fortnite and Roblox.
In February of 2019, Fortnite hosted a virtual concert with Marshmello in which 10 million people attended. A year later they hosted a concert featuring Travis Scott in which a “skyscraper-sized” version of the rapper interacted with and teleported across the environment while performing some of his biggest hits. The event was attended by over 12 million users.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that Roblox players spent a mind-blowing $652 million on the site in the platform’s virtual currency, Robux.
If you’re looking for proof of a booming market ripe with opportunity and potential, there’s plenty of information at your disposal to support this.
And to add a little icing on the cake, since marketing and advertising on the metaverse is still so now, the costs to run a campaign remain quite low.
Strategies for marketing in the metaverse successfully
Technology, as always, is a rapidly evolving creature. As a business owner or marketer, learning how to effectively evolve and adapt is essential in order to continue to remain competitive in these ever-changing environments.
The truth of the matter is that this scenario isn’t exactly particularly new in theory. Many of us have already lived through a handful of groundbreaking, cutting-edge technologies, developments, and inventions which have transformed the business and marketing landscape.
The one thing that remains consistently true throughout these shifts, is that jumping on board and becoming an early adopter tends to pay off quite nicely in the long run.
So, what do you need to do to be successful in the metaverse?
1. Capitalize on what you do best in the real-world
While this isn’t exactly an earth-shattering strategy, the truth of the matter is that it works. Obviously, creativity and innovation won’t hurt you in the long run. But, when it comes down to it, just do what you do best. Does your company do well at OOH advertising in real life? Then take out virtual billboards in the metaverse. Maybe you really shine when it comes to building relationships. If that’s the case, use the same concepts you use to engage and cultivate your target demographics in real life in the virtual world.
Stella Artois is a great example of a company that didn’t need to reinvent the wheel to be successful at metaverse marketing. The company is well-known for sponsoring sporting events– horse races in particular. So, they decided to partner with ZED RUN to create an immersive, virtual experience similar to the Kentucky Derby. The brand created a “string of exclusive” and unique NFT horse breeds which could be bought, sold, traded, bred and raced online
When asked about the partnership, Lindsey McInerney, the brand’s Global Head of Tech & Innovation explained,
“Stella Artois has always been about creating and facilitating memorable, premium experiences and bringing people together…As the digital world increasingly enriches our lives, it makes sense that we want to meet consumers where they are and be a part of their virtual world too.”
2. Make mementos
This is a pretty simple one. Let’s face it – people enjoy collecting items and they definitely enjoy collectors’ items. There’s a reason why NFTs are pretty much the biggest thing since sliced bread at the moment. The key here is to almost think of this from a historical point of view. This is a burgeoning trend that will ultimately go down in history and you want your brand to be a part of it.
That’s why companies such as Gucci took the time to release an exclusive pair of virtual sneakers back in the spring of 2021 called The Gucci Virtual 25. These neon kicks were created in partnership with Wanna and were made to be shown off in apps like Roblox. What was even more creative is the fact that these virtual sneakers didn’t carry the traditional 4+ figure luxury price tag. In fact, they rolled out at just $12.99 a pop on platforms.
3. Create immersive experiences
It’s no secret that consumers crave immersive experiences. This concept has been trending for quite some time now especially in the art world with the growing popularity of immersive installations such as the Van Gogh Immersive Experience, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms and the innovative ARTECHOUSE.
The metaverse is completely built upon this concept. People are tired of static ads and social media carousel marketing. This is the era of cultivating rich, immersive, and interactive experiences which create memorable moments that last forever.
In an effort to continue to expand its presence on the platform Roblox, Gucci also developed a virtual two-week long art installation for platform users called Gucci Garden.
Streetwear brand Vans took a stab at immersive experiences on the metaverse when they created a virtual skatepark in Roblox that let players interact, try out tricks, and earn points in their virtual store to boost the swag of their avatars. According to The Wall Street Journal, the park had a whopping 48 million visitors as of November 2021.
4. Get to know your audience and embrace co-creation
The last thing that you want to do as a brand is jump into a new channel and start shoving adverts down people’s throats. This is the case for any new channel, and that includes the metaverse. If you truly want to thrive and be successful, you’re going to have to learn the ropes, engage with users and communities, and build relationships and a reputation.
One of the smartest decisions you can make when getting started with building your presence on the metaverse is considering partnerships with influencers on various platforms versus going it alone. However, with that being said, some brands such as Prada and Samsung have also found success by taking it a step further and creating their own virtual CGI-created influencers in order to drive awareness and engagement.
Whichever route you take, the ultimate truth is that establishing a consistent presence, engaging with your audience, and building relationships is the key to success when it comes to marketing in the metaverse.
According to a recent analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence, the metaverse isn’t just “the next big technology platform”, it’s an “$800 billion market opportunity”. There’s a reason why every brand from Prada to Nike to Coca-Cola and more have begun investing millions in this new, immersive experience. If your brand is looking to remain competitive in the next decade, then there’s no better time than now to adopt a strategy for marketing within the metaverse.
Here at VisioneerIT, we have years of experience in helping to position brands to grow and thrive. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your endeavors and help you reach your goals.