Last Updated on October 28, 2022 by Troika Gellido
Should brands be concerned about the Metaverse?
In this fast-paced world, almost anything can happen in a blink of an eye. What you’re doing today may not matter in the next couple of years. For marketers, dipping our toes into the unknown can be beneficial. Let’s see what this shiny new thing called the Metaverse can do for us.
The metaverse is a smart future investment for many brands. However, what’s the actual value here, and what does it mean for brands? Is marketing in the metaverse here to stay?
What Is the Metaverse?
People have different opinions on what the metaverse is, which can make it hard to figure out what anyone is talking about when we get to marketing. Generally, however, we can describe the metaverse as a collection of integrated virtual reality and augmented reality worlds that people can interact with by wearing a headset.
So, you know, what software like VRChat has been doing for years. Here’s the thing: the metaverse isn’t new. You may not have heard about it until recently, but that’s because the technology to work with it hasn’t been too widely available until just recently. Early adopters have already been working on numerous projects to explore its capabilities.
The potential benefits of the metaverse are only limited by a company’s imagination.
For example, real estate companies can use the metaverse to let people take guided tours of homes and office buildings. Construction companies can create explorable, interactive 3D worlds showing how a building will look when finished. Governments can have digital agencies where people can receive services.
That last one isn’t a joke. Seoul, in South Korea, has already been building metaverse infrastructure to let people access public services. If something doesn’t require that someone be there in person, there’s a good chance it has potential in the metaverse.
How Brands Can Benefit From the Metaverse
Marketing in the metaverse has many opportunities for businesses. Here are some of the most common.
Selling Virtual Goods
This isn’t the same thing as selling goods virtually. Virtual goods are digital products for use in digital worlds, and there’s a lot of potential there. Unconstrained by construction costs or the laws of physics, you can build almost anything you can imagine in the digital realm. Some examples include:
- Avatar skins
- Exclusive in-game or virtual items
- Access passes to exclusive content
- 3D digital properties like houses and vehicles
The possibilities are endless.
The metaverse is a good place for building communities because it allows people with the same interests to come together from around the world and participate in things.
For example, companies can host digital trade shows or conventions where people can get together and have fun. Additional vendors can participate, shipping real-world goods based on orders made within the metaverse.
Customization systems can let consumers look at products in different configurations, such as by adjusting colors or making specific corrections. This setup allows them to see the differences in real-time, possibly with a sales associate present to provide support.
Customization systems can also help companies get more information about what interests customers.
The metaverse allows for interactivity in ways that most physical locations don’t. An obvious element of this is gamification, the strategy of adding game-like elements to other things to make them more fun and interesting.
If that doesn’t immediately stand out as a potential source of value for your brand, consider this: exercise is boring for most people. Like, really boring. There’s a reason why gyms often have televisions playing, and people visiting them often have headphones or earbuds in so they can listen to something while working out.
Having elements of fun and interaction makes it much easier for people to tolerate anything they’re doing.
Cooperative branding is the potential for businesses to advertise together in the metaverse rather than separately. Some companies are better when they work together, such as restaurants and food delivery services in urban areas.
5 Reasons Why Brands Should Experiment With Marketing in the Metaverse
Here are some primary reasons that marketing in the metaverse is a good place for companies to experiment.
The Metaverse Will Change The Rules Of The Game
When was the last time you paid serious attention to banner ads? Not recently? Well, you’re not alone. Banner blindness is real, and we know that people will habitually ignore anything they think is even remotely ad-like.
Essentially, slapping intrusive pictures of your product into a metaverse world isn’t going to be good marketing in the future. We don’t want to train potential customers to ignore the content. Instead, the metaverse is an opportunity to rethink marketing and how to make it feel natural, appealing, and even desirable for people.
The Metaverse Is Coming, Period
Technology is reaching the point where the metaverse is truly practical, and it’s going to accelerate from here. The question isn’t if it’s going to happen, but how and when.
Consider: Physical stores may see a sharp decrease in physical traffic, especially in areas with dense populations. Many stores are already struggling. However, businesses that do well with attracting people online may be able to get far more customers and start shipping things to people who’d never have bought from them otherwise.
Alternatively, some companies may heavily integrate augmented reality into their stores. With the correct setup, this could allow for everything from personalized guidance to specific products to instant price-matching guarantees.
Do you see all the ideas we’re throwing out here? We could do this all day. It’s not that hard to think of ways to integrate the metaverse into brands and businesses. The issue is that the metaverse is coming whether you want it to or not, so you may as well hit the ground running.
The Metaverse Is Always On
How would you like to have an interactive digital storefront open 24/7/365? The metaverse can do that. With the metaverse, people can access interactive digital worlds anytime they want, day or night. You don’t have to balance shift schedules as much or worry about customer capacities. If need be, you can spin up copies of your world to shunt people into.
This is already true, to an extent, with digital stores on websites. However, the metaverse is far more interactive, which means there are more opportunities with things that are always available.
Tools Will Be Constantly Developed
It used to take weeks or even months for a skilled worker to create a decent website for a business. Now most companies can get a basic structure in minutes and the rest of their content not long after. Websites are still complicated, but they’re not hard to make unless you want something complicated.
Why? Well, it’s because we have the tools for it. We’ve tested out what works, discarded things that didn’t, and standardized the creation process. People know what to expect from websites now, so it’s a self-reinforcing cycle.
The metaverse doesn’t have these standards yet. It probably won’t have standards beyond basic controls. The reason for this is quite simple: the metaverse is less like the internet and more like video games, and video games are far less standardized.
Realistically, what we’re most likely to see to start with is largely-simple metaverse worlds, with the odd ultra-high-quality entry from a company with the budget to afford it. For example, Disney might choose to create a metaverse theme park where people can also watch anything available on their Disney+ subscription.
As time goes on, companies will develop better tools for creating virtual worlds and participating in the metaverse. The sooner you start using and improving tools, the better position you’ll be in to take advantage of the first major waves of tech adopters.
One top tip is to get started with cooperative world design rather than trying to have one person handle everything.
The Metaverse Is for Everyone
The metaverse isn’t just a toy for Millennials and Gen Z – it’s something that anyone with a headset and an internet connection will be able to participate in. Crucially, since it can have essentially all of your customers, it’s also good for practically every business.
However, while all companies can benefit from it, adoption is most likely to happen in waves as technology gets more robust. It’s okay to wait until things are more developed and won’t take as much time to work with, but you should make plans to enter the metaverse market at some point.
How Marketing Will Be Different in the Metaverse
Marketing in the metaverse is different for one main reason: the metaverse is more like a video game than the regular internet. This is because of two components: immersion and perspective.
For the immersion aspect, people using the metaverse may be blocking out external senses as much as possible. They’re not merely looking at a screen, they’re tricking themselves into feeling like they’re inside a completely different world. This is a much deeper connection than people experience while browsing the web.
Similarly, the perspective is that of a first-person view for exploring a world, not just clicking hyperlinks on a web page. The perspective adds to the immersion and makes someone feel present in what they’re doing.
Where else do we see this in modern media? That’s right, video games. Games are perhaps the ultimate example of trying to pull users into a different experience. Most people are at least passingly familiar with video games. And as the younger members of the population age, gamers should logically compose an increasingly large part of the population.
In short, treating the metaverse like it’s just an extension of the web and a way to flash annoying banners into people’s eyesight at the company’s discretion is doomed to failure. It’s a short-sighted advertising technique that isn’t going to work.
Instead, most people are likely to look at quality as the defining factor for marketing. Rather than creating content that repels people, which is the literal opposite of marketing’s goal, material that draws people in and wants them to engage will be far more successful.
This is particularly true if economic trends take a nose dive. Housing is hard enough to afford, so some percentage of the population may decide that a bare-bones home where they spend most of their time in the metaverse makes more sense. Augmented reality may help with that, too.
While we’ve already mentioned some elements of this, it’s hard to overstate the importance of interactivity in the metaverse. Manipulating a world is a core part of someone’s experience in the metaverse, and the more responsive the world is, the better.
Marketers Will Need Different Skill Sets
Creating virtual worlds is much harder than creating a regular advertising campaign. Video game companies may have hundreds of staff working for years on a single title, and with a hefty salary. Game companies can afford this partly because their industry is already so big, but it’s worth understanding where their profit comes from.
Some companies will undoubtedly hire ex-game developers to help create virtual worlds and work in advertising. Others may train people from scratch. Regardless, creativity is going to be important, especially until tools are simple enough for even untrained people to make good things with them.
This isn’t plugging in a few keywords and having social media auto-design an ad for you. The metaverse needs more.
AI Is Probably in Here Somewhere
Finally, there’s a good chance we’ll see the inclusion of AI for generating worlds and art. People are already talking about software like Midjourney, an art-generation software. In its current status, professional artists think it could offer foundational elements that someone can expand on. Future iterations may be usable more immediately.
The metaverse is an important element of future branding for companies. It lets ads appear almost anywhere in augmented reality and virtual reality, and it’s only as limited as the tools for creating things within it.
Learning to use the metaverse is going to be a major test for many businesses, just as learning to use the internet was when it first took off. Those who pay attention, learn what works, and invest smartly are likely to see significant rewards, while those who ignore it and wait too long may find themselves forgotten by customers and relegated to the ranks of failed companies.
The technology is already here, and so is the metaverse. The real question is what you’re going to do with it.
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