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Marketing In The Metaverse: A Digital Odyssey For Brands

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If you are yet to get a taste of the metaverse and are thinking “What is metaverse?”, log in to your Netflix account, grab a bucket of those mouth-watering popcorns, grab a comfy seat on your couch, sit back, and binge-watch Ready Player One & The Matrix series and let the magic begin. What you are about to witness, my friend is the concept of the metaverse. Now imagine you are Wade Watts in the Ready Player One, and you can experience what you just witnessed- congratulations, you are now in the metaverse. 

 

Metaverses are penetrating the internet at lightning speed. There was a 7200% uptick in the searches for the term “metaverse” in 2021, and the year-end saw social media giant Facebook rebranding itself as Meta to “help bring the metaverse to life” [1-2]. For those who still feel it’s just the talk, the heavy inpour of capital from private firms should serve as the wake-up call. In 2021, companies related to virtual worlds raised over $10 billion. That’s twice as much as they did the year before. Epic Games, maker of Fortnite—raised $3 billion last year to fund its vision for the metaverse and has gone a step ahead with their idea of building a metaverse for kids & their partnership with LEGO [3]. As estimated by Citi bank, by 2030, the metaverse should represent a potential $8 trillion to $13 trillion in global opportunities [4]. 

 

Table of contents: 

  1. What is metaverse? 
  2. Marketing in the metaverse 
  3. Why is marketing in the metaverse needed? 
  4. Guide for a newbie: how to use metaverse? 
  5. Endnotes 

 

What is metaverse? 

Metaverse is now the talk of the town, and even though it may seem like new admission in the class, it has been around for 30 years, with the first reference to the term dating back to 1992. The word metaverse was coined by Neal Stephenson, the author of the science fiction “Snow Crash”. At the time, he worked with Jeff Bezos (the founder of the e-commerce giant Amazon) on a startup called Blue Origin. He served as an advisor in this virtual reality (VR) startup founded by Bezos to build a spacecraft and launch system. 

 

Over the years, the word (world) gained momentum and appeared in several other science fiction novels. Ernest Cline’s novel “Ready Player One” took it to another level and gave the readers a glimpse into this virtual world. Of course, the movie did wonders in providing the experience.  

 

 What is metaverse

Image source: HBR 

 

So, for those you still pondering over the question, “what is metaverse?”, coming from the words “meta”, which means beyond, and “verse”, meaning universe, the word actually means beyond the universe. Metaverse brings to you the best of both Augmented Reality (AR) and VR. Metaverse has many definitions, but my personal favourite is a mix from “Influencer Marketing Hub” and Mathew Ball, according to which metaverse is the sum total of the following key components [5-7]: 

  1. It is always active and exists in real-time. 
  2. It is an immersive environment where you are able to exist within a virtual- or augmented-reality system. They often but not always include virtual and, in some cases, real-world locations. 
  3. It is a fictional three-dimensional online setting that spans the physical and virtual worlds across multiple platforms. 
  4. Players have individual agency. In the metaverse universe, you can interact with other humans without meeting them in person. It can provide identity and presence and allow for peer-to-peer interactions, transactions, and user-generated content. 
  5. It’s a self-contained and fully functional universe of digital worlds that are powered by blockchain technology and digital assets. The virtual economy within the Metaverse is built on cryptocurrency, such as NFTs. 

 

Simply put, the metaverse is an evolved version of the modern-day internet that requires one to be immersed in the experience rather than just look at it. For marketers, it is a playground of creativity that presents numerous opportunities to engage customers on a whole new level. 

 

Marketing in the metaverse 

The pandemic was a grim reminder of the fact that no matter how perfect your world is, it can fall apart at any time and what is left is YOU. While it brought families closer, it also taught thousands of stranded people how to enjoy their own company. With all the norms around social distancing and curbs on moving out, immersive gaming provided the necessary escape that people yearned for. Now fast forward a few years. As per the author, blogger, and founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, pandemics such as Covid-19 are inevitable and mark just the beginning of what is to follow. So if there was a virtual world where users could game, socialise and indulge in different experiences, basically live an alternate life without having to step out of their chair, staying indoors would definitely be easier without impacting the user’s sanity. This virtualisation of the human population presents an opportunity for businesses to showcase their offering virtually through technology. The world has begun to go virtual, and a majority will be there sooner than you think. Therefore organisations must start thinking in that direction. 

Pointers to give you a head start 

1. Get that virtual real estate: While it may sound bonkers, virtual real estate is actually equivalent to the physical real estate and can be rented out or leased to the virtual population, just like in the real world. You can sell it to your consumers, hold events or let it sit there. In 2022 itself, Axie Infinity sold nine parcels of virtual gaming land for a crazy $2.3 million [8]. Carrying over a legacy of success in other aspects of the business, it’s clear how lucrative digital real estate is as a field.

What is metaverse
Image source: CNBC 

 

Also recommended: What You Need To Know About Virtual Real Estate 

2. Gamify irrespective of your domain: You cannot physically approach the user in the metaverse. So you should be able to build motivation for the user to come and interact with you in the metaverse, and incentives provide the best motivation. Incentivise your user experience with the help of games that lure users to the incentives as rewards for their virtual selves.

3. Develop your NFT- it’s your own brand!: A research from Statista shows that big brands like Adidas, Taco Bell & Nike are showing great interest in NFTs, a reason enough in itself for you to start thinking in that direction. After all, your very own NFT in the metaverse is like having a brand awareness campaign


Image source: Finextra 

4. Build merchandise for the digital population: People want to stand out, even in the metaverse. A Vogue study states that more than 90% of the users want to customise their avatars [9]. For instance, Gucci created virtual merchandise like bags (worth $4115) & shoes solely for the virtual avatars [10]. Now you know what to do!

Image source: Optimisus 

5. Work on organic metaverse advertising: How to use metaverse to your advantage? Indulge in native metaverse advertising via banners and hoardings. Focused organic advertising, like placing your brand logo on your real estate, will increase your brand visibility while also personalising your metaverse. 

 

Why is marketing in the metaverse needed? 

Our generation is no ordinary generation. We stand at the very edge of the transition from the physical to the virtual world. Two decades ago, mentioning something like this would have led to a crack of laughter, but our generation has already taken that leap. Even though there is continued scepticism around the “metaverse,” the companies are optimistic that it will catch up to the hype.  

Reach of the metaverse

The metaverse is no longer limited to gaming but has expanded roots to other arenas. People are able to attend virtual conventions from the comfort of their homes. Stride from one booth to another, attend webinars and engage with the world without having to step one foot out. Imagine you wanted to purchase a house- a piece of real estate you have been yearning for years, but your circumstances do not provide you with the leisure to search for one and experience it in person, see it from the inside and check out the neighbourhood. You now move to the metaverse, where you get in touch with a realtor who shows you around the house, takes you inside, and you can experience it from the inside, and by the end of the day, you close the deal. Years of waiting time reduced to a day! Now imagine you are looking for a car. By now, I am sure you get the picture. 

 

Traditional marketing styles will slowly become obsolete in the experience they deliver. No matter how unique the experience is, nothing can match the personalised user experience in the metaverse. The revolution has already begun, and one should start now to make the most of it. Metaverse is still new, so the prices of advertising and marketing in the metaverse world are still taking shape. So if you have a target audience that is already on the metaverse or if the metaverse population is a potential target audience, either way, it’s time for your brand/business to go into the metaverse. 

 

Also read: Emerging Trends In The Metaverse 

 

Guide for a newbie: how to use metaverse? 

A compelling brand experience in the real world has to be replicated in the metaverse, but the rules of the game are now different. On the plus side, marketers should remember that the Millenials and Gen Z form the cusp of the transition with hands-on experience in metaverse through games like Roblox. They are avid users of AR and VR and hence the perfect target audience. Let us now go through some of the best practices for beginners and see how to use metaverse. 

1. Immersive experience: We already know that metaverse is an immersive environment. So if you fall short of providing an immersive experience, it’s all in vain. A user should be able to interact with your brand and ads as opposed to simply looking at the hoardings (that is what happens in the real world, and we are in the metaverse). Similar to how Warner Bros. promoted their show “In the Heights” in a virtual representation of Washington Heights on Google Earth. 

2. Love for collectables: Human beings love collecting things, and we are all over the place for freebies or limited edition stuff. Replicate the experience in the metaverse and see your campaign fly. The Gucci Garden experience is a classic example of where Gucci partnered with Roblox and opened The Collector’s Room, where people could collect limited-edition Gucci merchandise for their avatar [11].

Image source: Gucci 

3. Metaverse marketing with real marketing: Metaverse marketing or marketing in the metaverse is an extension of what you do in the real world. The experience you deliver should be closely tied with what you do in the real world. AB InBev’s Stella Artois brand is known for sponsoring sporting events worldwide, which led them to collaborate with Zed Run on marketing a Tamagotchi-like experience planned for the Kentucky Derby. The goal of this activity was to attract new customers as well as show their commitment to this industry. The brand marked its entry into the metaverse by creating an online platform for trading, breeding and racing NFT horses and initiated its journey in metaverse marketing.


Image source: Venturefuel 

4. Experiment: There is no definitive guide to take you through the journey, just a set of directives. Marketers must embark on this journey and explore what works for them, experiment and create best practices and paradigms to suit their needs and make most of this virtual landscape. 

 

Metaverse is all about being creative with your user engagement and delivering an experience that is unique and encapsulating. The future of the metaverse is huge. So start thinking big because the metaverse is different. It’s beyond the universe, and the universe is limitless. 

 

Endnotes: 

  1. https://earthweb.com/metaverse-statistics/ 
  2. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/email/rethink/2022/04/06/2022-04-06d.html 
  3. https://news.crunchbase.com/news/metaverse-startups-funding-investors/ 
  4. https://fortune.com/2022/04/01/citi-metaverse-economy-13-trillion-2030/ 
  5. influencermarketinghub.com 
  6. https://www.matthewball.vc/all/themetaverse 
  7. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/marketing-in-the-metaverse-an-opportunity-for-innovation-and-experimentation 
  8. https://coinquora.com/axie-infinity-land-nft-sells-for-2-3-million-surpasses-record/ 
  9. https://www.voguebusiness.com/technology/shaping-online-avatars-why-our-digital-identities-differ 
  10. https://jingdaily.com/gucci-roblox-dionysus-digital-fashion/?module=inline&pgtype=article 
  11. https://blog.roblox.com/2021/05/gucci-garden-experience/ 

 

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