One of the biggest buzz words in the late 2021 and early 2022 is of course the metaverse. With Facebook loudly proclaiming their name change to Meta, the world was abuzz with the possibilities. Combined with the sudden interest in NFTs, the metaverse has been predicted as one of the marketing trends for 2022. But what exactly is the metaverse? How are marketers out there putting the “Me” in metaverse?
What is the matrix metaverse?
Neil Stephenson first coined the term in his novel, “Snow Crash” in 1992. His metaverse is a seamlessly linked and constantly evolving world. Users can create a world that branches off from the main one. They can populate it with things of their own creation. This however, is not a new concept. Massively multiplayer online games and virtual experiences like “Second Life” already tout these experiences. But these can only be considered the early iterations of a metaverse. In its ideal form, the metaverse should feature worlds and platforms that are interlinked.
The internet can simply be understood as a collection of interconnected websites. This evolved into practically everyone having an online presence. All thanks to social media. You can consume this version of the internet from your smart TVs, tablets and of course your phones. The metaverse aims to not only link all of these but have us consume these in a virtual world parallel to ours.
Going down the rabbit hole
Imagine this. You are flying across the metaverse on your device of choice. A social notification pops up on the interface. It’s of a picture of your friend drinking a new Soju flavour. You glide over to a floating vending machine. You order the drink and pay for it securely. A virtual Soju bottle appears in your avatar’s inventory and you continue on your merry way. Meanwhile, your order is processed. Minutes later a drone delivers the bottle to your home.
Sounds farfetched? Let’s consider the technologies involved. Devices streaming rich media? Check. Presence and integration of social media? Check. Online shopping and secure payments? Check. Virtual proof of ownership (NFTs and blockchain)? Double check. The reality is that these may not be as fantastical as you think.
Meta may have tried to immediately “own” the term metaverse via their rename. But in reality, many other tech brands are already hard at work investing in and creating digital worlds. Others are developing technology that enables easier creation and consumption of content in a virtual space. Brands have recognised this. In fact, a few early adopters have already begun to make their presence known in this parallel universe. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Atari as a brand needs no special introduction. This brand’s pixel aesthetic found an unlikely home in a digital space saturated with bleeding edge graphics. Atari partnered with The Sandbox – a platform that allowed its users to create their own worlds. They can create their own game assets and share it with the world. Perhaps the appeal was due to nostalgia marketing, gamification or both. But as a result, game makers on the platform were able to integrate Atari assets into games they created. At the same time, it brought Atari back into the limelight and people’s hearts.
Roblox, Gucci and me
Another brand making waves in the metaverse is Gucci. Their presence in Roblox immerses virtual visitors to the Gucci Garden. This was an actual physical exhibit in Florence. The recreation of this space in Roblox, opens up the experience to everyone around the world. They also added a gamified experience for visitors by hiding limited edition NFTs in the garden. This allowed visitors to “put on” Gucci branded items on their avatars. They can share and trade with friends. Players showed off their limited edition Gucci swag. In effect, endearing an old brand to younger audiences.
Like other new digital media like AR and the QR code, the metaverse also gave many industries the boost it needed. Especially in the midst of lockdowns and the pandemic. In education, the Metaverse School provided teachers with such a boost. For example, teachers were able to “bring” their students to forests or other exotic locations to teach geography. All in the comfort of their own homes. As a result, teachers and students alike benefited from a classroom experience all taken up a notch. Are you a Travis Scott fan? If so, Fortnite held a musical treat for fans by having the artist perform in a virtual concert.
A brave new world
The metaverse truly is a platform with limitless possibilities. Users are better able to express their identity by customising their avatars. It allows the creation of communities. Regardless of nationality. It allows for representation through voting via NFTs.
There are many available platforms out there each providing different capabilities. Decentraland enables users to vote for the growth of their world. The Sandbox and Roblox allow users to create games for other users. Spatial.io and Stageverse are platforms best suited for concerts and exhibits. Therefore it is up to us marketers to discern which platforms works best for the brand’s needs. But more importantly, it gives us a sparkly new tool to tell more immersive stories.
On one hand, the metaverse may play a big part in a brand’s digital presence in the future. But for a truly integrated experience, marketers should first consider other aspects too. Storytelling plays a big factor. But ultimately, we should ensure each consumer touchpoint is robust. Only then can we start integrating these into a metaverse. Is your brand metaverse ready?