Embracing the Metaverse: How Brands are Navigating the Future of Marketing
The word “metaverse” started to accumulate hype on the day when Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company Facebook was changing its umbrella brand name to Meta and was going to create its own share of the global Metaverse. Journalists and influencers immediately began trying to figure out what the Metaverse was and explain it. So, what is it, indeed? The Metaverse is a borderless virtual space where people can experience diverse digital environments and experiences, meet other people, go shopping, attend music gigs, and, eventually, encounter marketing activities brought there by businesses of all sorts.
Zeckerberg himself says that the Metaverse is about 8-10 years away from now. However, there is already a variety of metaverses created by video game studios, some brands, VR developers, and other enthusiasts. So, it may be too early to speak about the global all-encompassing Metaverse but it’s just the right time to start exploring the possibilities and opportunities that it’s creating now and will create in the future.
Why Marketing People Should Care
Naturally, marketing teams should go wherever their target audience is going. Or create their own branded places for the audience to come into. The Metaverse gives the opportunity to utilize both scenarios since it’s a space where both people can go to meet others and simply look around and brands can go to build their own experiences inside of it.
Moreover, the Metaverse is going to help us combine and mix our virtual lives with our existence in the physical world. Consumers will be able to switch between the two dimensions just like today a person can start an online shopping process on their smartphone and smoothly switch to the desktop to complete it. Thus, the Metaverse is a way to broaden your brand communications and make them more immersive.
Though, to be fully honest means to mention that experts are divided now on how successful and attractive the Metaverse is going to be. However, even if it will be joined by some people and not everybody, it’s still a vast domain for marketing opportunities. Especially if you are interested in the young consumers who are growing up with technology and seem to express more interest in virtual experiences.
If you still doubt, there are some figures that may make your hesitation vanish. So far, today we have a number of metaverses that operate quite successfully and provide their space for brand communication. There are, as well, brands which don’t wait for some vague opportunities of tomorrow and create their own metaverse experiences.
Roblox, an online game platform which is basically a metaverse, could boast 43.2 million users accessing it on a daily basis in 2021 and the metric reached 50 million users in 2022. In spring of 2021 a digital-only version of Gucci’s Dionysus Bag was sold on Roblox for $4,511 which is $800 more expensive than the same purse in its physical form. So, as we can see, the Metaverse is attracting people and money right now.
How Marketing in the Metaverse Looks Like
Even though the Metaverse is still in the distant future, there are already a few tools which look crucial for marketing in the virtual space:
Branded virtual spaces and experiences. It’s happening right now. Take Wendy’s, for instance. Recently the fast food chain launched its own VR restaurant on the Meta’s video gaming platform Horizon Worlds with a Fanta fountain and flying burgers. Gucci is another good example of brands navigating the Metaverse hype with success. Approximately a year earlier than Wendy’s, Gucci showed its own VR art installation Gucci Garden on Roblox.
Utility NFTs. Usually, when we think of NFTs, we think of vibrant jpegs and sculpture-like 3D objects being sold on art auctions. Utility NFTs aren’t about that. These non-fungible tokens are usually linked to real-world rewards. So, for instance, brands can attach invites to exclusive events or discount coupons to utility NFTs and give them to their customers for their loyalty or as prizes in branded video games.
Digital goods. In recent years creating digital objects has become popular among brands, especially in fashion. It’s a tool both for marketing and increasing sales. A digital pair of sneakers may cost cheaper than the real one, but if a lot of users’ avatars are wearing them in the Metaverse, the more sales there may happen in the real world. Also, it works pretty well for brand awareness because, virtual or not, your logo is still your logo.
Targeted advertising. We are used to targeted advertising being an essential part of our social media experience and it’s going to be in the Metaverse as well. The Metaverse is a virtual space where people can build their own worlds and mostly these worlds are going to remind the real world, so there will be places for ads, like digital billboards. Actually, in video games they already use this to sell advertising spaces. However, the in-game advertising is now mostly untargeted, but since the Metaverse is basically the borderless Internet, there it will be possible to use the same tools as the in-game advertising but make it targeted.
AR campaigns. AR is also a part of the Metaverse because it helps to connect the virtual space with the real world by bringing elements of the digital universe to the physical reality. For example, creating virtual goods for digital avatars of the Metaverse users, you also basically create 3D promotional materials that can be showcased in brick-and-mortar stores. It works vice versa.
As you can see, these marketing options for the Metaverse can be explored right now since the technologies behind them are in active use already. It should encourage marketers to take action.
How to Get Started with the in-Metaverse Marketing
First of all, an obvious piece of advice: learn as much as you can about the Metaverse. Then study and analyse the success stories of other companies. Research what your target audiences think of the Metaverse, virtual reality and AR. After that you need to understand where your company belongs in the Metaverse and what exactly you can do to bring your brand there.
The best way to start trying your hand in the Metaverse marketing is to incorporate it into what you are already doing. For instance, if your business regularly holds brand events, you can use utility NFTs as invites. If your company produces fashion goods, you can create 3D models for your customers to try them on via AR fitting technologies or sell these digital items within a video gaming metaverse. A business can also find digital content creators who are already popular within the Metaverse and collaborate with them. Or involve its audience in creating branded digital content for virtual spaces.
So, as you can see, marketing in the Metaverse is not going to be radically different from the currently used marketing tools. For experienced marketers it’s not going to be rocket science to find their way in the virtual space. It’s beneficial to start trying your hand in the Metaverse marketing today because it creates a lot of new opportunities right now.
Written by Vitaly Gerko.
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