The metaverse is no longer a space-age concept confined to the future. Many forward-thinking brands have already established a presence in this virtual world. Although it’s yet to reach its full potential, the metaverse is gaining traction. The global Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) market is predicted to be worth approximately $300 billion by 2024. As such, it helps to know what it’s all about!
In this blog, we’re discussing what the metaverse is, and what it could mean for the future of digital marketing.
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is a shared virtual space in which users can interact with each other and their environment. It includes virtual reality (or virtual worlds) that remain active even when not in use, as well as augmented reality which combines elements of both the real and digital worlds. Users will have an avatar and be able to interact with others through their avatars.
Some experts have described it as a ‘3D version of the Internet’, where people can spend their online life. The venture capitalist Matthew Ball, for example, has written several essays about the metaverse. He sees it as the fusion of the Internet and computing, explaining it as:
“When these two technologies (internet and computing) first emerged, all interactions were primarily text-based (emails, messages, usernames, email addresses). Then they slowly became more media-based (photos, videos, livestreams). The next elevation of user interface and user experience is into 3D. Secondly, if we think of [a] mobile [phone] as placing a computer in our pocket and the internet being available at all times, think of the metaverse as always being within a computer and inside the internet.”
Unsurprisingly, no brand is as keen on the metaverse as Meta (formerly Facebook Inc.). The company has hired 10,000 people to support its development. Considering that it owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, its metaverse endeavours are sure to make an impact. Therefore, its marketing potential shouldn’t be ignored!
Mimic your real-life marketing
An effective way to market your product or service successfully in the metaverse is to echo your real-life marketing strategy. Creating a marketing experience that draws on what already works for your brand will appeal to your existing audience and maintain brand consistency. For example, if your business relies heavily on visual advertising, consider creating digital billboards.
Online gaming platforms, such as Fortnite and Roblox, have used the metaverse to their advantage by hosting concerts inside their own digital worlds. Their platforms are already well set up for large interactive live events, allowing them to successfully play to their strengths. Marshmello was one of the first artists to do this in 2019, and gained additional brand value by having Fortnite offer ‘custom skins’. This allowed die-hard fans to look just like their idol while watching the event, and then later playing the game. 10.7 million players attended the in-game event, which was a record high for peak concurrent players. However, this number doesn’t include those who live-streamed the concert on platforms like Twitch! The true reach of the digital DJ set was much larger and is ongoing. The official recap posted on Marshmello’s YouTube channel has also racked up almost 62 million views since being uploaded!
The gaming industry isn’t the only one taking advantage of these technological developments. UK retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) is exploring how augmented reality technology could revolutionise its customers’ shopping experience. The company began trialling a new smartphone app, ‘List & Go’, in 2022. The handy app lets shoppers create a list of their desired products and helps them navigate the store to locate them! The software makes use of the camera feed in users’ smartphones, overlaying arrows and a compass to direct customers in real-time.
Luxury brands are also testing the waters. Gucci curated a promotional environment, ‘The Gucci Gardens’, to showcase its new collection – supplementing it with exclusive virtual collectables. Visitors to the space were also able to customise their avatars with “wearable” Gucci pieces.
As with any marketing, it’s essential to keep your audience in mind. The metaverse reached an impressive milestone of 400 million monthly active users in March of this year. Current data indicates that 83.5% of these users are under the age of 18 – so, Gen Z and (to a lesser extent) Millennials. This means that an effective metaverse marketing strategy will need to appeal to these generations.
Tech-savvy brands can also consider larger-scale, user-centric promotional projects. In April of 2021, three students from the University of Dundee built an accurate recreation of the Isle of Cumbrae, including Millport town, in a Minecraft server. The project aims to inspire school children to interact with the island’s heritage and comes complete with a port, cathedral, and eight built-in lessons. The completion of the island, dubbed ‘Cumbraecraft’, demonstrates how the metaverse can be a valuable, interactive teaching tool. Creating digital locations expands accessibility beyond physical spaces. The format is also engaging and will appeal to the younger generations, so is well worth exploring!
Remember that the metaverse is all about online community and connection, too. Content generated by the platform’s users will be favoured, so embrace any opportunities to establish partnerships with existing creators.
It might be some time before we truly understand what the metaverse really means for small businesses, and how they can take advantage. However, we hope this blog has given you a few insights into what it is and the marketing tactics you might use within it.
For more advice on future-proofing your digital marketing strategy, contact our expert team!