First engine in the metaverse?

What marketers can expect, what to think and what to expect

If you follow my social media channels, you may have noticed that I’ve posted a number of articles on marketing and CX in the metaverse over the past few weeks. I’m writing today about the possibilities and challenges of the metaverse and I hope that helps you make the most of it as you begin to experiment with it as a marketer.

Odds

I’ll start with the opportunities, because I firmly believe that the metaverse offers great opportunities for brands to offer their customers a better, richer and more immersive experience.

Advantage if you are the first

In a new “market”, in which many brands do not yet participate, you can use the first move advantage† Although that concept can be much more complicated than it seems at first glance (timing is everything and arriving too early can sometimes be a disadvantage) I think that in this case it is really worth starting to experiment with CX and online marketing. the metaverse. .

Just think about what it’s been like to be Amazon’s first online bookstore… You can start small, like a banner ad in an esports game, to get an idea and some understanding of how it works. Only when you dare to experiment can you really see what the possibilities are.

Interesting cross channel mix

It is important for brand recognition and general accessibility that brands are present on all channels that are relevant to their customers. When a new channel comes along that offers opportunities for a whole new audience, it’s a bad idea to do nothing with it. If consumers can’t find you in the metaverse, they’ll likely disappoint you in the other channels as well.

When it comes to the cross-channel customer experience, the following applies: the richer the mix, the richer the experience, and that’s exactly what you want for your customers. You can use AR in the store to, for example, share detailed information or show off additional features and uses, or you can combine a live event with a metaverse counterpart. For example, Gucci kicked off the two-week virtual Gucci Garden experience on Roblox alongside a real-world installation, Gucci Garden Archetypes, which took place in Italy.

The laws of physics do not apply.

Fortunately, there are laws of physics in this world. But think of the sheer creativity your lack of in the metaverse could unleash. The sky is definitely not the limit there. He could send his clients flying, soaring through space, becoming eccentric avatars, walking through roofless buildings (like in Gucci Garden), and enabling all sorts of things that wouldn’t be possible in real life. Disney World is one of my favorite places because they are geniuses telling stories. In fact, you can think of the metaverse as a Disney-esque place on steroids. Take advantage of all the possibilities and don’t just try to imitate the ‘boring’ real world.

“You can actually think of the metaverse as a Disney-style place on steroids.”

It is still quite affordable.

Because branding, marketing, and advertising in the metaverse is still so new, the fees to run a campaign are still relatively low. Of course it depends on what you would like to do there. If you are going to build a whole new world like Hyundai Mobility Adventure in Roblox, with 5 different theme parks, you will obviously have to invest a lot of money (which in comparison would be much less than building 5 physical theme parks). ). But investing in virtual billboards in games like Football Manager and Hyper Scape (as Coca-Cola, Samsung and Volkswagen have done) will be far less expensive than the IRL alternative.

Also, events in virtual locations will have less impact on business results than real ones. You can save on travel and accommodation expenses for employees, rent and energy consumption.

Reach a new audience

If you want your brand to continue to reach Gen Z, Millennials, and maybe even Gen X, you’ll need to follow them on their preferred channels. For example, the younger the generation, the more likely they are to play. About 81% of Gen Z gamers reported playing games in the last six months, spending an average of 7 hours and 20 minutes per week. 67% of the Roblox demographic is under the age of 16. So it makes a lot of sense for brands to manifest in metaverse games like Roblox and Fortnite to reach this target audience.

unlimited scale

One of the great benefits of metaverse experiences is size, which IRL events can’t possibly match. For example, the game Roblox has 200 million active users, spending $319 million in in-game currency in the second quarter of 2020 alone, while Fortnite has a whopping 350 million players worldwide. And of course, these numbers pale in comparison to, say, Facebook’s 2.92 billion monthly active users. However, it was recently reported that its number of global daily active users fell for the first time ever. The 1 million drop may not be a big deal in the total number, but it does indicate that people are starting to look to other channels to meet their needs. Also note that Meta is now investing heavily in the metaverse as well.

Those are early warning signs of a change anyway.

To compare the scale of music events: the record for the largest number of visitors to a concert is held by Vasco Rossi (225,173 visitors in 2017) for a ticketed concert, and Rod Stewart (3.5 million visitors in 1994) and Jean -Michel Jarre (3.5 million visitors in 1997) for a free concert. As of July 2020, 45.8 million people watched Travis Scott’s Astronomical Tour in Fortnite.

challenges

But every new technology and every new platform also has drawbacks that are important to be aware of. Even Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg recently admitted that it could be several years before the metaverse truly becomes mainstream.

More than a product

Things for sale in the metaverse often come in the form of NFTs. For those who don’t know what an NFT is or non-fungible token (This NFT podcast is pretty cool too), it’s a blockchain link from a cryptocurrency to a digital object. Non-expendable means that it is a unique digital piece that cannot be replaced by anything else. NFTs are often used as collector’s items: one example is the artwork by Mike Winklemann, aka Beeple, titled “Everydays – The First 5000 Days,” which sold for $69.3 million at auction. from Christie’s on March 11, 2021.

This part of the collection is probably a bit of a stretch, but its huge potential is that NFTs could fundamentally change the game in customer loyalty. This is because they can offer smart contracts, which can play an important role in building customer loyalty. And we’re already seeing a lot of early warning signs of that. Kings of Leon, for example, were the first band to release an album as NFT, and their tokens, which also include 18 unique-looking ‘golden tickets’, unlock special perks like limited-edition vinyl and front-row seats to future concerts. .

It’s the combination of a fully immersive VR and AR experience with the fact that all products have the option to add a service in the form of an NFT contract, which seems to offer a lot of opportunities.

There aren’t enough VR and AR headset owners yet

Although the scale of, for example, events and concerts in the metaverse is much larger, the total number of consumers who have the necessary infrastructure (VR and AR headsets and even an Internet connection) to participate in them is still significantly less than the of those who can’t. As of mid-2021, 26 million VR and AR headsets were in the possession of private consumers. Although experts believe that the demand for virtual reality headsets will almost quadruple in the next five years (until 2025), that figure pales in comparison to the total number of smartphones: according to Statista, there are currently 6.648 million smartphone users. in the world (83). .89% of the world population). If the metaverse is going to enable some innovative changes, the number of global users must scale up to the number of the smartphone.

A bad customer experience

The VR and AR experience is currently far from seamless, which of course also explains (besides affordability) why the adoption outlined above remains pretty lacking. Users of virtual reality games have reported harmful side effects such as vision damage, disorientation, and even seizures. Another challenge lies in using powerful, high-quality models that can achieve the correct retinal rendering and pixel density for realistic virtual immersion. And let’s not forget that most headphones are still relatively large, heavy and therefore uncomfortable to wear for a long time.

Reinvent stories in three dimensions

We are so used to developing stories for non-immersive environments like video and podcasts, that in the metaverse we will have to learn to tell stories differently. Tech futurist and metaverse strategist Cathy Hackl has already warned brands that they will have to “rethink their stories in three dimensions” if they want to succeed.

Additionally, metaverse marketing can be largely creator-driven, as users can be both developers and gamers. Brands will have to rethink their own positioning, from storyteller to co-creator of stories. For example, they can buy land and build communities in some virtual communities, but the stories in the communities are generated by the interaction of the players. The challenge for brands is to continue to play a role and remain visible, beyond being a ‘dumb channel’, in that story that is out of their control.

Measurement is difficult

And finally another point; While some believe it is only a matter of time before we catch up, it is not yet possible to measure and track as we are used to with other marketing tactics. That is clearly a problem in determining the return on investment. If brands can’t track the return on their spend as clearly as they can with other digital channels, it may be difficult for their marketers to account for what they spend there. According to Natalia Vasilyeva, vice president of marketing at Anzu, “some [merken] cautious due to inability to measure all of AZ.” But his position is that “the early days of social media weren’t perfect either” and that “you can’t expect the new medium to be perfect in terms of everything.”

These are the challenges and possibilities of the metaverse that I see right now. Do you think I missed any important point? Tell us in the comments!

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