Technology and marketing go hand in hand but once every decade, new technological inventions alter the dynamics of our industry. The means by which we can communicate have moved from newspapers to radio, film, television, and the internet and its many marketing channels. There is no arguing that those who stay ahead flourish during these transformations. The Metaverse will undoubtedly transform marketing once again; the question is: How can I take advantage of the Metaverse?
What is the Metaverse?
Let’s break it down into simple terms. The Metaverse is ultimately the successor to mobile internet; it is the next step in the evolution of social connection. Metaverse is a version of the internet that we are inside – experiencing the internet as a version of ourselves, in the form of an avatar.
Reality Check! We will not be able to fully comprehend the functions and the life-altering aspects of the Metaverse until it is here. We still don’t know whether the Metaverse pioneers such as Meta (formerly known as Facebook) are visionaries or just feeding us hype. In either scenario, as marketers, there is still a lot to be thinking about.
A Brief History of the Internet
Before going into depth about the Metaverse, it’s crucial to look at the history of the internet and the journey that got us here. Over the last few decades, websites and online applications have evolved considerably. They’ve progressed from static websites to data-driven ones that users can edit and engage with.
Web 1.0 – The first version of the Web was introduced in 1991, back then it was called Classic Web. Tim Berners-Lee was the first person to present the world wide web to the planet and the Web 1.0 era lasted until 2004. In Web 1.0, there were just a few content creators. Personal web pages were prevalent, with most of them consisting of static content.
Web 2.0 – Then came Web 2.0, which was dominated by the corporate sector. Apps overtook browsers, and because of which Web 2.0 became more focused on allowing users to view, produce, and deliver information. As a result, we were able to see the emergence of social media and deep e-commerce at the same time as well as web apps such as the many marketing tools we use day to day. It is also known as the participative social web.
Web 3.0 – Many people consider Web 3.0 to be the next stage in the internet’s evolution. It’s a revolution in how the internet operates. However, Web 3.0 isn’t wholly defined yet as it is still an idea in the works. Tim Berners-Lee believes that this semantic web will be the next major step forward in the internet’s growth. At the moment this is largely owned by the tech giants such as Google, Meta, Apple etc and so we can expect them to shape this to a large extent.
Metaverse? As Web 3.0 gains traction, the Metaverse is bringing us closer to 3D virtual experiences, which will change the way we interact online. It will establish a network of virtual worlds centred on social interaction. These interactions will no longer be limited to a screen; they will become a part of everyday life. The goal is to create a virtual cosmos that is alive, sharing, and eternal, using a combination of augmented and virtual reality. We will increasingly see VR — a technology that has been available for decades without achieving much – bring actual benefits, which will result in changes in consumer behaviour as well as in sectors like cryptocurrencies (anyone want to buy a virtual super yacht?).
Although the Metaverse will be accessible through a computer or a phone, trends already show virtual reality as an incredibly fast-growing market segment in its own right. UK revenues in virtual reality, as a division in the gaming space, grew by 31.7% in 2021 and are projected to increase at the same rate over the next five years. As marketers, we need to be prepared to follow this rapidly growing altered reality boom. Ever since Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook is transforming into a “metaverse”, job searches in this sector have risen by 400% in 2022 alone. Google searches for the phrase have also risen exponentially in the last three months, following the Facebook rebranding to Meta (signalling its belief that the future of the company – and technology in general – is in the metaverse). The participation of companies such as Microsoft, Gucci, Nike, and Epic Games (Fortnite) showcases favourable prospects for the metaverse.
A Day in the Metaverse
After a long day at work, you decide to take a break. So, you drive to your friend’s 5-bedroom mansion in your Bentley, then you buy them a piece of art (Non-Fungible Token) and both of you decide to take a long walk on the beach. After a while, you plan to go to One Direction’s concert (because they will definitely be back together by then). Then you log off the internet and return to your real life.
Just like in the real world, to buy anything you need currency. But how do you suppose you’ll pay for your Bentley, NFT, and that One Direction concert in your virtual world? The answer is straightforward: crypto! Crypto becomes a requirement rather than an option in a world where speed, transparency, and security are almost essential. Cryptocurrency will be a key player in facilitating the exchange of goods and services in the Metaverse. Ultimately, money speaks, but it speaks louder when it’s crypto.
Marketing in the Matrix
Metaverse will introduce a new marketing environment based on blockchain technology. There will be no servers or administrators because it will be decentralised. It’s a brand-new marketing technique that lets you engage with your customers in ways you’ve never been able to before. The Metaverse will alter your perspective on digital marketing.
So, is your brand ready for Metaverse? Even if it may seem daunting at first, getting on board the Meta train early will benefit your business because you will learn and grow with the community. As a result, you will not be left behind when innovations are released. Remember how valuable it is to have millennials and Generation Zs as your target market. An excellent place to start is to create a cost-effective framework that allows for initial experimentation and familiarises you and your team with the Metaverse. Consider the big picture and how these new immersive technologies can improve engagement.
The next generation will not distinguish between actual and virtual worlds, instead, they will be adopting new ways to express themselves, build identities, and form new connections in an open world. The brands that embrace these new habits and focus on authentically connecting with the consumer, rather than providing a brand message, will be the most successful in the Metaverse.
A few tips for Metaverse Marketing
1. Non-Fungible Tokens – NFTs are non-duplicable digital collectibles like art, music, and gifs that work on Blockchain technology. While everyone can look at the asset, only the buyer can claim to be the “official” owner. Start minting NFTs for your brand which will help you stay relevant in the virtual world.
2. Creative Economy – Content has and always will remain king. Mark Zuckerberg states that with Metaverse, he wants to build a creative economy. Think about creative simulations that complement real-life experiences.
3. Don’t get left behind – Businesses and marketers should dedicate some time to learning more about this experience that will challenge the way we live online. To get a head start, investigate platforms like Sandbox, Mirandus, and Decentraland on which people already interact in different ways. Be creative in your campaign planning if relevant to your sector. Monitor trends in this space closely.
4. Play games – Another way to prepare yourself for Metaverse is playing games. Start paying attention to the gaming community as some games are steps ahead of Meta. A good place is to start is playing Roblox, Minecraft, or Fortnite. This will help you understand the relationship between our digital and physical realities.
Metaverse will challenge the ethical integrity of marketers. The world of digital marketing already makes promises it cannot keep, we need to realise the limitations of a product and stay true to our audience. It is difficult to not use digital technologies to manipulate a product into what it is not, and with Metaverse it will become exceedingly difficult to maintain the integrity of the product. We still don’t know about the privacy laws on Metaverse. Advertising without tracking will remain a struggle.
What not to do?
PANIC! There is not much to worry about yet. It will take time before Meta becomes affordable for everyone and can cater to a mass market. Although the idea of Metaverse is very lucrative it will take some time before it becomes a common practice. As time goes on, Meta will become more user-friendly and accessible for everyone. Initially, it will be popular amongst gamers and technology aficionados but will soon become the norm. Eventually, there will be more players in ‘virtual reality space’ and Metaverse will be remembered as a stepping-stone.
All marketers are still learning about the Metaverse, which allows for experimentation. The future of marketing is dependent on Metaverse. It’s critical to begin strategizing immediately for your brand’s success in a place where users will be able to build, explore and share new worlds.