People have different ideas about what the metaverse is and how it works. For many digital immigrants, it’s the logical end of Mark Zuckerberg’s evil plan to take over the world. But it’s a new frontier for marketers, and smart brands are already making money off of it.
When Facebook said in November that it would change its name to Meta, the news was all over the news. But the metaverse isn’t a brand-new idea. Players have been able to connect and talk to each other in virtual worlds for a long time, from Farmville to Second Life to League of Legends. Paid and branded experiences have given them the chance to gain status and power.
What does it mean “the metaverse”?
People are starting to agree on what the term “metaverse” means, even though there isn’t just one. Bloomberg calls it the “next big technology platform,” and it defines the metaverse as “social, persistent, shared, virtual 3-D worlds.”
Bloomberg thinks the metaverse will be worth about $800 billion by 2024, but other people in the industry think it will be worth more than $1 trillion by then. That’s because right now, people are really interested in content about the metaverse. For example, Roblox, a user-made Metaverse Game Development platform, is used by 50 million people, including half of all U.S. children.
Marketers are learning from gaming companies how to make a whole new set of engaging brand experiences as the opportunity grows.
Confused? Intimidated? You’re not alone. Even for the most creative brands, entering the metaverse development can be scary because it takes careful planning and the right people to make the most of the opportunity.
How brands that sell to consumers use Metaverse Marketing?
Stefanie Smith, the CMO of MetaVRse and a former IKEA executive, says that consumer brands are already rushing to the metaverse. MetaVRse is a platform that lets you make interactive 3-D experiences on the web without having to write any code. She says, “Here, we can do anything we’ve ever wanted to do in retail or 2-D e-commerce.”
This includes opportunities for brands to interact more deeply with engaged consumers, especially younger ones, and sometimes offering exclusive content rewards in exchange for engagement or co-creating content. Smith says, “We used to say that kids grew up with computers, but now they’ll grow up with the metaverse.”
In fact, the metaverse is a virtual playground for forward-thinking companies like Vans, which made an interactive metaverse skatepark that more than 48 million people have visited. Now, Gucci has made an exclusive pair of digital sneakers, and IKEA, Chipotle, Louis Vuitton, and other brands have made their own branded metaverse experiences. Nike has also spent a lot of money to attract superfans and collectors to the space. Sotheby’s built a virtual art gallery in the 3-D virtual world Decentraland.
How brands that sell to other businesses can use the Metaverse?
JP Morgan has also joined the race by opening a lounge in Decentraland to teach clients about cryptocurrencies and the metaverse. Aside from that one example, though, it’s not easy to find B2B brands that really use metaverse marketing. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many opportunities. Smith says that these are some other short-term uses for B2B brands:
- Branch offices or locations online
- Online meeting rooms
- Virtual events
- Virtual shopping and advertising and training centres
So, once they’ve chosen the right project, how can marketers at B2B tech, financial services, and healthcare firms successfully dip their toes into the virtual waters of the metaverse? Here are a few ways to get started:
Choose a platform and a mode:
Do you want to use 3-D assets for e-commerce, a stand-alone WebAR experience, a minigame, an immersive experience in a VR environment, or on another platform? Think about how you could use old-fashioned ways of marketing online. Companies are already buying “land” in metaverses like Decentraland and building malls where brands can rent space to interact with customers, sell products, or advertise.
Make your advertisement or event:
This step is an important part of your metaverse strategy and tactics. Think about how people will interact with the experience and what kind of technology will be needed.
Choose whether you want to make your own space or use someone else’s:
Michael Cruz, Partner and Head of Content at experiential agency Summer Friday, says that this choice affects a lot, like where you host your experience and how many people will follow you.
You might want to start a Discord group:
Even though Discord is not a 3-D virtual world in and of itself, it is invite-only and has chat, voice, and video channels. It’s different from Slack and other social networks because fans can get different levels of access based on what they do, how they interact with other fans, and whether or not they own tokens. This is a direct link between the rapidly growing metaverse and the cryptocurrency space. Cruz says that Discord shows how non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or cryptocurrencies can help brands get the kind of engagement they need to get into the metaverse. This is because the metaverse is all about getting people to interact with each other. “In my community, I can make a coin with its own value and use it as a tool to get more people interested in my project, get it used, and get real contributors,” he says.
Measuring metaverse marketing ROI and avoiding potential pitfalls
Many of the most advanced ways to market in the metaverse, like branded virtual reality games, can be hard to use because they are still mostly experiments. ROI is hard to show as well. Instead of trying to boost conversions or sales in the short term, you should look into metaverse marketing to build your brand and influence among your core customer groups.
Different ways of marketing in the Metaverse Development will have different returns on investment (ROI). Immersive shopping experiences on WebAR, like IKEA Place, which is basically virtual furniture shopping, may have the lowest entry barriers and the best brand value. Also, both the content and the experience are interactive, so it may one day replace going to a store to buy furniture.
But deep customer engagement is where the real power of metaverse marketing lies. Cruz says that brands that don’t do this are “just playing in someone else’s game.” And someone else’s game can have garbage from someone else. For example, Roblox has millions of experiences, but it’s hard to keep an eye on them all for sex, violence, and other things that might be questionable.
Cruz warns both B2C and B2B brands to be careful in the metaverse because there aren’t many rules. He says that you should make a full plan first, or else your mistakes could leave a “digital footprint.” Many companies that are taking the metaverse seriously are now hiring full-time workers. Over the past year, a lot more people have been hired to work on the metaverse. There is also more and more training for marketers who want to improve their skills in metaverse marketing.
Making a good plan, working with experts, and getting ready for a lot of change in the meantime. Building a strong community in the metaverse can be even harder than doing so through traditional social media, and it can also be more expensive.
As B2C brands continue to claim land in the metaverse, now is a great time for B2B brands to plan a smart way to take advantage of what is quickly becoming the next big digital marketing opportunity.