Ever since Facebook announced its name change to Meta, the tech space has been abuzz with the term “metaverse”. How will this new virtual world fundamentally change the way humanity works? How will the metaverse affect marketing?
With the continued rise of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), the metaverse is making its way onto the internet. It is estimated that around 85 million users will experience AR or VR at least once a month in 2021.
But what exactly is the metaverse? Although the term was first coined in the science fiction book Snow crash by Neal Stephenson in 1991, its new relevance can be attributed to both exchange of Facebook’s “Meta” brand and popular avatar-based games such as Fortnite .
Science fiction writer Neal Stephenson coined the term “metaverse” in his book Snow crash (1991), using it to refer to a computer-generated universe. It is usually a highly engaging shared virtual world where people gather to play, socialize and work. It is also tied to the development of Web3.0, which some say will be the next chapter in the existence of the Internet, a chapter built on blockchains that will, in theory, democratize access and power and weaken the grip of the largest tech companies.
But let’s keep it simple. A metaverse is a hyper-realistic, immersive and interactive shared virtual space through the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). There can be multiple virtual worlds within a metaverse, where people can engage in a wide range of activities that are the result of a mix of physical and digital. Instead of staring at a screen like you do now, in a metaverse you will be able to be inside all of your online experiences, such as shopping, meeting friends and family, going to a concert, completing official documents, etc.
From another point of view, it is possible to describe the metaverse in two ways.
- One is a direct parallel to the Internet as we know it today
- The other is made up of multiple products that act as online spaces where people can interact in an engaging way.
So, let’s say the metaverse (the capital “M”) is the Internet; Metaverses (small ‘m’) are platforms developed by Facebook, Microsoft, Nvidia, and others that provide context and provide specialized products needed for specific use cases.
With this in mind, many brands and marketers are starting to see the same potential behind the metaverse, and this potential has reinvigorated the marketing industry.
The metaverse is based on the fact that people spend a lot of time – and sometimes money – first in virtual environments. So it’s no surprise that early examples very often focus on one thing: video games.
The Roblox platform , for example, it allows players to inhabit worlds created by other users, leaving the design to the community. They’ve also recently begun experimenting with interactive ads, which give marketers a lot more freedom than placing products or just placing an ad at the level of a static video game. They create a mixed experience that changes as players move through the games, giving ads a way to come to life.
hyundai also benefited. The automaker has created its own Roblox level where all the cars are its own. He has entered the metaverse to seek a younger base in his home territory – the games – and aims to “cultivate lasting relationships with fans.”
In May 2021, Gucci also opened the Gucci Garden on Roblox, a virtual experience to complement a real-world installation called Gucci Garden Archetypes, which took place in Florence, Italy. Vogue Business revealed that people can “mingle with others by exploring space and purchase digital pieces created in collaboration with Roblox creator Rook Vanguard.”
With exposure to Roblox’s 43+ million daily active users, it’s easy to see why brands are taking the opportunity to stand out.
But that is not all. The metaverse offers another unique opportunity for digital marketers: a new way to collect data and understand user behavior. A survey shows that 65% of Gen Z consumers have spent money on a virtual item, such as a character mod or specialized gear, that only exists in the game.
No borders are off limits to digital marketers today. But metaverse or not, marketers need to design interactive experiences that stimulate involvement and therefore create authentic relationships.