If there’s one word that has recently taken over the digital world by storm, that word is ‘Metaverse’, and for a good reason. The Metaverse and the new amazing opportunities that come with it are about to transform pretty much every aspect of our lives – and that includes Metaverse Marketing, the future of digital marketing in the Metaverse.
From futurists and blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiasts to media moguls and the world’s biggest corporations, everyone’s talking about the Metaverse like it’s the most revolutionary concept since the birth of the internet, and – spoiler alert – it probably is.
But what is the Metaverse?
According to venture capitalist and angel investor Matthe Ball’s Metaverse Primer, “the metaverse is a 3D version of the Internet and computing at large”.
First coined all the way back in 1992 by sci-fi and cyberpunk writer Neal Stephenson in his novel “Snow Crash”, the term “Metaverse” initially referred to an all-encompassing digital world that exists parallel to the real one.
Others have described the Metaverse as a 3D model of the internet parallel to the physical world, where you spend your digital life, or “the Matrix, but without the tubes and enslavement”.
Many argue that the Metaverse in its truest sense is still in its infancy stages and it will take a long while for it to evolve to its full potential.
And, just like with any “next big thing”, the Metaverse is a topic of heated discussion among doomsayer and scaremonger circles, too.
The truth about what the Metaverse is, however, is a bit more nuanced.
Much like the Internet in its early days, everyone’s talking about the Metaverse but few know what it really is – and fewer still can predict what it will turn out to be.
As things are, there are 4 things that are absolutely certain about the Metaverse:
- It’s a shared virtual space that includes aspects of live entertainment, social networks, hardware, user-generated content and technology infrastructure, and is constantly expanding.
- It’s where megatrends converge, and where new and big things happen, from cryptocurrency and NFT-related initiatives to virtual concerts, fashion, and – most importantly – education.
- The biggest players have their eye on it. Tech giants like Facebook – er, Meta – Microsoft, Apple and Google are already redirecting a huge chunk of their funds towards the future of the Metaverse.
- It’s quickly turning out to be a golden land of opportunity, as well as the next big step in the natural development of all things digital – including digital marketing. Or, as many already call it, Metaverse marketing.
Marketing in Metaverse
Since day one, it’s always been integral for digital marketers to keep up with the latest technological developments. The Metaverse is no different, and it’s not a trend or a fad that’s going to fade away in a year or two.
If anything, It’s arguably the greatest gamechanger in the history of digital marketing. It’s an arena full of opportunities and challenges that will make or break the next generation of great marketers and successful marketing campaigns.
These are a few Metaverse marketing key points that both digital marketers and businesses should have in mind:
Millennials and Gen-Z are the future
Anyone who’s watched even a single episode of AMC’s American period drama “Mad Men” knows that much of what we still regard as the cornerstones of marketing was invented by Baby Boomers, for Baby Boomers.
Despite their efforts to stay relevant way past their prime, Baby Boomers are slowly but surely passing on the torch to the next generations. When it comes to the Metaverse, in particular, that torch is being picked up by Millennial and Gen-Z marketers and audiences.
These generations are already familiar with (and sometimes even passionate about!) certain early forms of Metaverses, such as games like Roblox and Virtual Reality. It’s only natural that Metaverse marketing should evolve to fit their habits and needs as well, and incorporate these relatively new technologies and tools to its core.
Metaverse marketing and “real life” marketing are not an either-or thing
Just as the Metaverse is going to act as a parallel to the physical world (or, “meatspace”, as Stephenson called it) and not replace it, so should Metaverse marketing complement and not replace more traditional forms of marketing.
Metaverse-pioneering companies are already creating marketing experiences that tie with what they already do in real life. The AB InBev’s beer brand Stella Artois, for example, has traditionally been big on sponsoring sporting events, including horse races.
In a move that’s proven to be both successful and innovative, Stella Artois grabbed the opportunity to enter the Metaverse when a virtual Kentucky Derby replaced the real thing at the height of the pandemic and virtual horse racing gained mainstream attention.
Stella Artois teamed up with blockchain-powered digital horse racing game Zed Run to give users a Tamagotchi-like experience and a string of unique, exclusive horse non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
What’s more, that wasn’t just a one-off publicity stunt. According to the company, Stella’s NFTs have been conceived as the natural continuation of its “The Life Artois” marketing campaign, bringing the brand’s uniquely recognizable identity and style to the digital realm.
Immersive experiences are the key to success
Innovation is not just about new ideas – it’s also about adapting tried-and-true practices to new environments and settings. The nature of the Metaverse is perfect for trying just that; elegantly weaving the familiar with the new to create a uniquely immersive experience.
Bidstack, for example, a video game ad tech company, saw virtual billboards as a deceptively simple-yet-genius advertising idea. By using something that virtually every member of their marketing audience is already familiar with, they took advantage of the element of immersion to offer the same familiar experience in a whole new setting.
Of course, this goes beyond just virtual billboards. Others are already experimenting with immersive Metaverse experiences and marketing initiatives, such as a Lil Nas X concert in Roblox, the Gucci Garden experience visits, and the virtual rendition of the Washington Heights neighborhood as part of Warner Bros.’ promotion of their 2021 film adaptation of the Broadway musical “In the Heights”.
People like collecting things – even if they’re digital
Either as a pastime or an investment, people like collecting things – especially things they’re passionate about. The Metaverse is a great place for people to do that, too. By offering limited-edition items that are only available in the Metaverse, brands have a unique opportunity to connect to their audiences in new ways.
Gucci, for example, took the chance to expand their never-ending quest to empower individuals and give new avenues to self-expression to the Roblox metaverse. The Gucci Garden experience on Roblox offers The Collector’s Room, a way for Roblox users to collect limited Gucci items in the Metaverse.
Not only has this initiative made art and fashion accessible to new audiences Gucci wouldn’t normally reach, but it’s also made them 286,000,000 Robux, the Roblox in-game currency, which roughly translates to $ 3,575,000.
Existing communities are both a resource and an opportunity
As any marketing professional will tell you, people are resistant and averse to advertising by nature. That’s one of the greatest challenges a digital marketing agency faces when designing a campaign.
In the case of the Metaverse, it’s already been proven that brands cannot ignore the intricacies and the nature of this new medium where virtual communities and user-generated content is more important than ever.
In Roblox, for example, brands have an easier time getting past that initial opposition barrier with their audiences when they partner up with already well-established members of the Roblox developer community.
Similarly, the team behind the O2 Arena in Fortnite saw Travis Scott’s virtual concert as both an inspiration and a litmus test; when brands (or artists!) team up with creators that are already experts on the platform, the results of any promotional action increase exponentially for both.
If there’s a time to experiment with anything and everything, it’s now
Being a marketer is trying to maintain a perfect balance between innovation and creativity on one hand, and already established best practices on the other. The Metaverse, however, is still a terra incognita as far as what works and what doesn’t is concerned.
For digital marketers and marketing innovators, the Metaverse is a land of golden opportunity to be creative, think outside the box, push the boundaries, and try out things they wouldn’t be able to in the confines of “traditional” marketing.
For businesses, Metaverse marketing provides new and exciting ways to come in contact and interact with their customers and target audiences – as well as opportunities to ride the wave of aforementioned creativity and innovation and – hopefully! – grow in unexpected and exciting ways.
Why brands should consider entering the Metaverse
With all this talk about the Metaverse being the future, you’d be excused if you think it’s something new. Truth is, however, that the Metaverse, in one form or another, has existed in our daily lives for years. The Metaverse is more than its virtual reality, social media, or blockchain and NFT components, after all. Its DNA extends to things like Twitter, Twitch, Zoom, Discord, Roblox, and more – and the massive, constantly evolving network of interlinked virtual environments all these things create.
So the question isn’t whether brands should consider entering the Metaverse, because most of them are already there, in one way or another. And even if they’re not, they simply cannot afford to pass on it, because their competition definitely will not.
The question is, how do brands tackle the unique challenge of crafting an effective Metaverse presence?
That challenge is twofold, and it boils down to two things: technical expertise and authenticity.
- Just like their digital presence and digital marketing campaigns, a business or brand’s Metaverse presence and Metaverse marketing requires technical know-how and expertise that the average Joe, however otherwise qualified, simply does not possess.
- People are naturally suspicious of advertising, especially when it pops up in environments they’re passionate about – physical or virtual. If a brand wants to create a successful Metaverse marketing campaign, it is important for its Metaverse presence to be authentic both to what the brand represents and to its audience.
What if I don’t know the first thing about the Metaverse and Metaverse marketing?
How well a business or brand overcomes the barriers of entering the virtual world is what will make or break its Metaverse marketing. If that sounds daunting, it’s because it is; not every brand and business will be able to rise to the occasion – at least not without expert help.
That’s where we come in.
At iTrust, we’ve been keeping our finger on the pulse of all things Metaverse since well before it became a buzzword, and we’ve been closely studying the successes (and blunders!) of every single brand that’s attempted to establish a Metaverse presence.
If you’re interested in crossing the borders of the Metaverse yourself, we’re here to help!
Small business opportunities in the Metaverse
One of the most exciting things regarding the Metaverse is how its unique nature levels the playing field for small businesses and offers new and exciting growth opportunities. By disconnecting the ability to do business and reach audiences from things like geographical location and high-maintenance physical facilities, the Metaverse is a breath of life to small businesses around the world.
That’s not just a theory, either:
As mentioned above, the Metaverse has already existed in various forms for years – forms that have served as the foundations of ecommerce and ecommerce marketing. According to Forbes, the COVID-19 pandemic has kick-started a massive growth trend in ecommerce and digital spend. More people than ever are doing their shopping online, and that includes electronics, clothing, customer goods, and even groceries.
Riding that wave, both big and small businesses can leverage the Metaverse and its platforms to reach new audiences and grow in new fields, securing a future where otherwise they might have none.
So what do I have to do to build my small business’s Metaverse marketing and presence?
If you’re ready to jump off the deep end and invest in your digital presence, the first thing you have to do is ask yourself these questions:
- “What are the solutions I already have at hand? Am I already using a website, a mobile app, or social media?”
- “What data do these solutions provide me with? Am I able to see what dives sales or what effect my digital marketing campaign actions have?”
- “What are my main goals? Brand recognition? Increased sales? Improved customer satisfaction? How can technology help me achieve them?”
Once you have a satisfying answer to each of these questions, then you’re ready to take the next step and start building up your digital and Metaverse presence. That’s when you should start looking into finding the right partners to help you with that – a team of specialized experts to make sure everything goes according to plan and assist you in getting the most out of your investment.
If you’re ready to have that discussion, we’re ready to listen.
The future of Facebook is the Metaverse
If you thought that the Metaverse was something that Facebook (now Meta) came up with, you’d be excused. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, is so convinced that the future of the internet is the Metaverse that he went as far as to rename one of the world’s most recognizable brand names to “Meta”.
He’s not the only one to invest in the Metaverse, either. There are other tech giants, too, namely Microsoft, Google, and NVIDIA that are building their own platforms, all in a proactive attempt to convince users and other brands that their version of the Metaverse will dominate the Metaverse’s future.
Although nobody can predict the outcome of this digital arms’ race, Meta’s version of the Metaverse really looks like the next step in connecting people, as well as brands to their audiences.
With a userbase of more than 2.9 billion active monthly users, Meta (formerly Facebook) and the interconnected whole of experiences it’s set out to build will probably be the springboard for a large chuck of the Metaverse’s next phase. And while not every single one of its users will necessarily dive head-first into the Metaverse, the numbers are still too great for advertisers and digital marketers to ignore.
What is Web3?
“Metaverse” is not the only buzzword that’s gotten digital-minded people across the world talking. There’s Web 3.0, too, also stylized as web3.
Web 1.0, which began in 1994 and lasted roughly until 2000, was the first iteration of the internet. Those early stages of the WWW (World Wibe Web) were more or less all about static web pages, simple but limited in their function and architecture.
Web 2.0, the Internet as most of us know it, revolutionized the way we communicate and access information online. It’s a world of user-generated content where getting data on the go is easier than ever, and where user experience is what matters the most. It’s the kind of internet characterized by platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok.
Web 3.0 is the next evolutionary step of the internet, an iteration built on blockchain technology and concepts of decentralization. This third generation of the web will be all about providing a data-driven and machine-readable semantic experience that employs a machine-based understanding of data. With web3, the ultimate goal is a version of the internet that’s more intelligent, more open, and more independent than ever before.
How will businesses be affected by Web3?
With web3 becoming more real with each passing day, traditional social media are slowly but surely losing ground to blockchain-powered social applications. These have a user-centric, decentralized structure and are all about user data control, transparency, and privacy.
In such user-aggregated, blockchain powered platforms, businesses will have to change approaches, too. Brands looking to connect with their audiences and grow a devoted following will have to do so organically, increasing brand awareness in user-centric ways and maintaining data transparency and open access.
…and what if I can’t (or don’t want to!) mess with all that technobabble?
That’s totally understandable. After all, you don’t have to be a futurist or a tech guru to reap the benefits the Metaverse has to offer your business. That’s the job of Metaverse marketing experts – you only have to pick the right ones to partner up with.
At iTrust, we’ve made it our job to always be at the bleeding edge of all things digital, one step ahead of the competition. That’s a privilege we share with our partners, too! Our team of experienced and highly specialized digital marketing and Metaverse experts is here to answer all your questions, listen to your business’s needs, and help you formulate the perfect plan to move forward into a new era of the internet.
Build the foundations for your brand’s Metaverse success, starting today!