Our desire to conquer goes beyond physical space: scientific discoveries, technological innovations and sporting records are pushing the limits of what is unknown to us. To continue to quench this thirst that hatches in the heart of man, that of grandiose and unexplored spaces, Silicon Valley proves to be the solution. The conquistadors of the 21st century have not waited to embark on this new adventure, despite the pitfalls that dot their path …
An extraordinary enthusiasm for these new virtual worlds
The enthusiasm of brands for the metaverse is undeniable: advertising has been thriving for months, all sectors combined. Earlier this year, Carrefour acquired 36 hectares of land in The Sandbox for 120 Ethereum (around € 300,000).
A month later, an agent affiliated with the AXA network opens a virtual agency on the Gather platform. Nike partnered with Roblox to create their own metaverse, Nikeland, consisting of sports fields and a showroom to dress up in the brand’s virtual shoes. The sports equipment manufacturer doesn’t do things by halves, it buys RTFKT, a “manufacturer” of virtual trainers, in parallel. Yes, we are also witnessing the birth of the first web3 brands, such as Dress X or The Manufacturer, as in the past appeared the DNVB (Digital Natives Vertical Brand), signs from digital.
We can legitimately ask ourselves: who has not yet entered the metaverse? And tomorrow, who is it? Because despite a universe with vague outlines and rules, uses still to be discovered, a little cautious internet users, every day new brands are betting on this adventure of tomorrow. Is it the fear of not being there in time and missing something, the need to appear as a precursor? It must be said that Bloomberg Intelligence’s forecasts are tempting: the size of the metaverse market could reach 800 billion dollars by 2024.
However, let us not confuse speed with haste: it is not just a question of acquiring a presence in the metaverse, but of living there and above all of giving customers a unique experience. Rome 3.0 was not built in a day, so it is urgent to take the time to think about a sustainable and relevant strategy.
The digital gold rush won’t come without cost!
The metaverse is the sparkling promise of an advertising space with infinite possibilities. If this promise makes your eyes shine, it veils some constraints. And for starters … the purchase cost! Virtual lands are selling like hot cakes at high prices: Forbes estimates that early prices range from $ 15,000 to $ 45,000 depending on the location of the lands and platforms. Where a 96m2 plot costs $ 15,000 (or 5 ETH) on The Sandbox, prices skyrocket on Decentraland: Investment firm Tokens paid $ 2.4 million (618,000 MANA) for 116 plots of land for one acreage. total of 565 m2 in the Fashion Street District of Decentraland [Source]. Not to mention that the acquisition of land in the metaverse cannot be improvised: companies must be equipped internally to pay in cryptocurrencies, of which, let’s remember, the course has been more than uncertain lately.
There is no metaverse, but metaverse
The race between the platforms has begun and will continue to intensify. Meta, Roblox, Fortnite, Decentraland, Microsoft … which platform to choose to invest? It is still too early to assess the merits of each, but some questions arise. Virtual universes will be partitioned to keep users in a hearing competition or interoperable: will avatars freely navigate from one virtual universe to another, will Balenciaga shoes purchased on Fortnite be worn in another world? Or will brands be forced to enter into exclusive contracts?
In addition to the cost of entering the metaverse, other expenses are emerging (design, development, maintenance, marketing, etc.) to give life to this virgin space, which today is more like a laboratory that we are not yet aware of. uses and perspectives.
A priority challenge: to succeed in the experience
Experience is at the heart of the metaverse. To design a successful experience, it seems necessary to know the users and their uses to choose their modes of presence and their strategy. Buying virtual ad space to encourage real-world purchases, such as Chipotlé and its “Halloween Boorito” marketing activation operation where Roblox players could win coupons, sell NFTs in a virtual store, personalize and test products?
We still lack a perspective on good practices … Only we imagine that the experiences will have to be engaging and playful to merge into the visual universe of the platform, distinguishing itself from the competition. Not easy!
The metaverse marks a break with traditional advertising mechanisms to reach avatars that do not reflect a real person with well-defined criteria of age, sex or profession. Targeting becomes more difficult! Especially since in these virtual worlds the experience is mainly social: playing, meeting, attending concerts … and Internet 3.0 users go there to escape from reality, a constraint for brands that will have to respect this need for space and live differently. Today the public on platforms such as Minecraft or Fortnite is young, but also small because not everyone has a way to access the metaverse or invest in cryptocurrencies.
The metaverse will also be B2B! Thinking about the metaverse solely through the B2C prism would be a mistake: companies can also see internal and external opportunities in it to define a new business or collaboration space: recruit and reunite employees in a moment of work hybridization, organize fairs, showrooms or training. Although the burden of managing change and acculturation should not be overlooked, not to mention the costs of equipping virtual reality glasses.
Finally, to succeed in the experience, a not negligible aspect: the business challenge. Yes, you can’t risk the flop with a “cheap” design universe and an off-target experience. Investing in the metaverse means giving oneself the means to respond to the digital challenges that derive from it: working on the design of the universe according to the identity and values of the brand, the user journey and interactivity, but also combining e-commerce and marketing facets! The metaverse requires a certain digital multidisciplinarity to offer a unique and seamless experience, to bring added value to users with adapted and relevant content, but also to ensure smooth evolutions and optimal performance. Not to mention that it is a 3D universe that requires specific skills close to those of the world of video games in terms of design and development.
The metaverse is undoubtedly a fascinating subject that deserves to be explored. However, the journey into this virtual world cannot be done without reflection or without cost. And one cost that wasn’t mentioned is the environmental one: the metaverse will be greedy for resources and energy, at a time when there is talk of the need for a digital ecology. So, in which adventure will you choose to pursue your investments, real, virtual or hybrid?
Tribune of Caroline Varée, Media & Press Relations Manager at SQLI for 5 years.