In 2022, we’re in a world that we previously thought was impossible. Whether it’s the world of social media or controlling washing machines and heating systems while away from home, nothing surprises consumers or businesses anymore. As the technology industry continues to go through rapid transformations, most people are aware of the metaverse.
But what is the metaverse? How will it affect the world of marketing? While The Matrix and Ready Player One might have seemed like fiction, they seem to reflect reality more accurately with each year that passes. Type this term into Google or a social media platform and you’ll see that the conversations around the metaverse are growing. At this point, it’s impossible to ignore as marketers.
What’s the Metaverse?
Essentially, the metaverse is a shared digital, virtual world where all users have avatars and representations of themselves. Based on interactions and decisions, the virtual world grows and becomes more connected. While technology has always had limitations, the difference with the metaverse is that there is no end, no finish. As more users join the virtual world, the universe continues to expand to accommodate them.
In effect, the metaverse mirrors the physical world. When people first hear this phrase, they assume that it’s a game or an application where you can play. In reality, the metaverse is real and combines the physical and virtual worlds.
Whether somebody is accessing the metaverse or not, it still exists. It’s always active, it updates in real-time, and it’s fully functioning. Importantly, the metaverse doesn’t need humans to survive and this self-contained nature is what has drawn much attention in recent times. Here are some of the key factors of the metaverse broken down:
Self-Contained — In this universe, users can sell, own, create, and invest wherever they want. When they put labor into the universe, they’re also recognized as such.
Real-Time — The time you spend in the metaverse matches real life — the two are synchronized.
Various Channels — You might think that the metaverse is restricted to certain platforms, but it’s a place where multiple tools can come together. Rather than buying items on an isolated platform, it means that you can take an item from one game and make it available in another.
Individual Agency — With individual agency, users can simultaneously do different things. While some are interacting with other people, others are playing games.
User-Generated Content — At first, people assumed that the metaverse was just a place to hang out virtually. Instead, they can also create content for others to enjoy.
Always Active — Another misconception is that the metaverse ends when left; instead, the opposite happens. Whether you’re active or you leave, they continue without your presence.
With this, you should have a better idea of how this virtual space works. But how does marketing fit into this story? While some articles will have you believe that the metaverse is just another trend, experts predict the opposite. As a marketing professional, you need to stay up to date with the latest technological advancements. Rather than a trend, we believe that the metaverse is here to stay. The network of 3D virtual worlds will mirror real life and it will attract millions of users in the coming years.
If you want to succeed, you cannot ignore this growing field but rather need to adapt appropriately. Primarily, you should consider Gen Z and Millennials in your marketing strategy. Every year, these younger audiences engage with VR, Roblox, Fortnite, and other forms of metaverses. If you fail to engage with the metaverse worlds, you’ll struggle to keep up with competitors.
Tips to Adapt to the Metaverse
Create Immersive Experiences
One of the most important things to know about the metaverse is that digital and virtual advertising is available (what is any world without advertising?). As a basic example, Football Manager is a popular game franchise in the UK and many other countries. In many ways, the company was one of the first to delve into virtual advertising when it allowed companies to promote their brands on the advertising boards around the virtual football pitch during games. Just like the ads that you see around real-world stadiums, players of the video game see real brands while watching matches.
As well as virtual billboards, you also need to create immersive experiences that compel users to take the experience further. Rather than placing simple ads, consider events and branded installations so that users can interact and gain something from the experience.
Just recently, Lil Nas X held a concert in Roblox, and these types of events are becoming more popular. We’re always saying that the key to marketing is advertising to people wherever they are, and this is now the virtual world.
Parallel Marketing and Real-Life Marketing
Just because you’re advertising in the virtual world doesn’t mean that you can’t tie the two together. Last year, Stella Artois created a campaign that merged the virtual and physical worlds for their audience. As one of the biggest sponsors of the Kentucky Derby, it launched a gaming experience where users raced, bred, and traded horses. By merging physical and virtual campaigns, Stella got the interest of many users and the combination worked to its advantage.
Remember the days as children when everybody on the playground collected, traded, and played with cards, little figures, or whatever else the latest trend was? Well, there’s still this young person inside every adult that likes to collect and trade items; the metaverse provides the perfect environment to do this.
In the coming months, generate excitement around collectibles that customers and users can get on the metaverse. Once again, we return to Roblox as an example because Gucci has created the ‘Garden Experience’ whereby users can collect Gucci items and showcase them to other users. After selling collectible items, Gucci earned around 286 million Robux ($3.75 million).
This shouldn’t come as a surprise since we’re talking about marketing, but one of the best techniques right now is to keep experimenting. This is an exciting period for the marketing niche, and it’s an opportunity to set the standard for metaverse marketing. While every company knows what to expect with SEO and social media advertising, this is a completely new field. Although we can offer general advice, we can’t go into best practices because they haven’t yet been discovered.
What does this mean? Experiment with different strategies and try new things to learn what works for your brand. Be unique and interact with your audience in exciting new ways; don’t fall into the same old patterns when you have this new revolution underway.
Focus on Existing Communities
Generally speaking, people don’t like it when ads interrupt their experience; the same is true in the virtual universes currently being created. Therefore, you can’t expect to just turn up in a virtual world, advertise, and for everybody to love the brand. If you take this approach, you will just frustrate the user base and the brand will develop a bad reputation.
If you need a lesson on how to get this approach right, just look at O2. Even as a known brand around the world, O2 didn’t attempt to advertise without the help of established creators. When it held a concert on Fortnite, it partnered with known Fortnite experts. Similarly, brands that enjoy the best results from advertising on Roblox are the ones that partner with the developer community on the platform.
In many ways, this is the same as influencer marketing. Rather than directly advertising to the market, you go through influencers because they have experience in the field. If you’re entering an existing community, you’ll need to work with influencers that have a reputation in the market and a rapport with users. As an example, developers on Roblox have created items and experiences and have built credibility with users.
The Future is Metaverse
While marketers were tentative about the metaverse initially, there’s no denying the growth of this field and how the future lies in these virtual universes. Billions are being invested into developing these metaverses not just to entertain the masses but to turn them into business and professional destinations.
Just in case the industry was in any doubt about the future of marketing and technology, Facebook changed its name to Meta and continually invests in these types of experiences. For example, this includes AR, VR, and Oculus. Last year, businesses used Oculus devices to hold virtual meetings and interact just as they would if in an office space. As more businesses close their offices and encourage people to work from home, this technology will find its feet.
As well as Facebook, metaverses are popping up everywhere with Animal Crossing, Fortnite, and other platforms holding concerts for users. Even as users log out, the metaverse continues to exist and mirror real life. While the industry certainly has challenges, the amount of money pumped into the technology and the acceptance of the community is likely to be the key to its success.