Marketing has been around for centuries. The metaverse? Not so much. So you’re forgiven if you consider yourself a little thin on knowledge when it comes to the inner workings and pros and cons of the metaverse. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the metaverse, the marketing opportunities available to you, what your design requirements might be, and the possibilities of the future.
The easiest way to think of the metaverse is as an online universe. Instead of being on the internet, you’re in the internet. It’s important to distinguish that there is not one singular metaverse, but a multitude, each pertaining to a particular game or platform.
Yes, but not exclusively. Console games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and World of Warcraft would classify as part of the metaverse as they involve real people interacting with each other in real-time using personalized, identifiable avatars. VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) are the most immersive ways to experience the metaverse as they blend real life with an alternate reality. Pokemon Go is an excellent example of this, the game seeing worldwide uptake virtually immediately upon release.
Back in 2020 (which you could read as “Way back in 2020”, given the subject matter), venture capitalist Matthew Ball described the key characteristics of a metaverse as:
It may be unsurprising that feelings towards the metaverse are divided. There are concerns about the social and mental effects these platforms may have, similar to the existing concerns around social networking. These are valid worries - but it’s important to look at this as a sort of Schrödinger's cat scenario: until we lift the lid, the metaverse can exist in both negative and positive states.
And the lid is being lifted. Although the metaverse as a concept and experience is still new, the rapid progression of VR and the boundaries of technology are quickly building the framework for what it will one day look like.
If the downside carries weight, the upside certainly does too. An expanding metaverse will further increase efforts for global internet coverage. The user experience for a number of things will be vastly improved (grocery or clothes shopping, for example, can happen in the metaverse with the corresponding real-world items being delivered to your door).
Job creation will be realized and redefined, with those metaverse games that trade in cryptocurrency allowing their players to convert that to real-world currency.
In short, marketing in the metaverse will thrive because the medium itself is only going to grow. In 2021, Meta (RIP Facebook) invested $10 billion in the metaverse, and they’re by no means the only tech company heavily investing their resources. For brands, this means recognizing the potential and getting in on the ground floor - not dissimilar to what brand marketing looked like on TikTok.
Brands that adopt a wait-and-see approach do so at their peril. Metaverse marketing already provides tremendous reach along with a growing audience. And with real-world advertising bombarding consumers on a near-constant basis, those that can create something unique and memorable in this new medium are the ones that will stand out.
With wide consumer access to headsets like Oculus and Meta Quest, augmented and virtual reality is becoming more mainstream. But the gaming community, gargantuan though it might be, is not the only audience to which the metaverse is limited.
Source: Pokemon Go Live
Non-gaming metaverses are becoming increasingly more common. Even though Zoom went from 10 million users pre-pandemic to 200 million users in March 2020, when people stayed home from work and school, non-gaming metaverses suitable for online teaching surpassed the limitations of Zoom classes and Zoom homework
Roblox cleverly jumped on this trend and invested $10 million to “find and reward developers and organizations who can figure out how to really lean into our great physics, strong immersive 3-D capabilities, and multiplayer experiences to teach in a deeper way”.
This shows the power and potential of an online community and makes a strong case for the uptake of non-gaming metaverses.
The metaverse is overflowing with marketing opportunities. It’s a new space and a blank canvas, providing you with plenty of potential for experimentation and quick wins. Here are five effective strategies you can use to market in the metaverse, but don’t be afraid to think out of the box and innovate: Millennials and Gen Zers have serious advertising fatigue. If you can find a new and innovative way to promote your product, go for it.
Position your brand favorably by actively engaging with communities in the metaverse as opposed to simply plastering content on every available surface. A good way to do this is by partnering with in-platform creators. Think of this as the glorified version of influencer marketing. Examples might include sponsoring an online event or offering exclusive avatar merchandise in partnership with established creators.
Scrutinize your already successful campaigns to see if they can be paralleled in the metaverse. Again, don’t turn a real-life billboard into a digital billboard. Make sure the campaign in question can both translate and appeal to the metaverse.
An excellent example is what burger chain Wendy’s did in Fortnite. Realizing that Fortnite included freezers in their kitchens, Wendy’s leveraged their entrenched “fresh not frozen” stance and created a Wendy’s avatar for the sole purpose of destroying these in-game freezers. They streamed their gameplay to their existing audience, and it blew up. Soon, other streamers began to reference it and every major media outlet was talking about their success.
The metaverse is not bound by the same limitations as the real world. Using the promotion of your brand as the objective, put yourself in the consumers’ shoes and explore the innovative and imaginative ways you can design metaverse-specific experiences. Clothing brands have a natural industry advantage. Avatar clothing creates opportunities for users to display brand loyalty, while the 3-dimensional element of metaverses can (and will continue to) showcase clothing much better than flat images.
Ownership and collectibles are a big part of the metaverse. Digital assets known as NFTs (non-fungible tokens) ensure ownership is unchangeable unless that item is sold. In other words, what is yours in the metaverse is yours, and not simply something to which you have access. Collectibles and NFTs can be marketed as a reward incentive or bundled with physical items.
Source: Ledger Insights
Because the metaverse is still evolving, there is still no playbook of best practices. Be open to experimenting with the ideas you feel have potential - build on your successes and learn from those efforts which were not so successful. After all, the next viral campaign has to come from somewhere, so why not make it yours?
These examples highlight why brands should be paying attention to the metaverse, as well as the different forms that metaverse marketing can take:
Rapper Travis Scott, in avatar form, gave an 8-minute performance on Fortnite. Over 12 million players experienced the event live - compared to a regular concert crowd of about 50,000. Through the sale of in-game Travis Scott avatar merchandise, the effect the performance had on sales was massive, earning the rapper a reported $20 million.
How does this actually work, you ask? Players were given a date, time, and location point within the game. Because Fortnite exists in an always-on, real-time state, those in-game players congregated at the correct location: all 12.3 million of them.
Source: Epic Games
In late 2021, shoe giant Nike acquired in-game collectible design company RTFKT (pronounced ‘artifact’). The purchase made Nike’s intentions clear to expand into the metaverse. In early 2022, Nike began their foray into the world of virtual fashion with a range of digital sneakers called Nike Cryptokicks.
Direct-to-avatar sales is a $54 billion market. In recent times, the big players are starting to come to the table, bringing even more influence and attention to these digital marketplaces.
So how did these brands break into the metaverse markets?
The metaverse is gaining popularity, but it needs further traction to really capture the mass market. This will be achieved through two things:
Data privacy presents another challenge. New technology requires stringent security measures and protection of private data, something made even more difficult by the constant real-time and immersive nature of the metaverse.
It’s undeniable that metaverse stock has weight - if it didn’t, tech brands like Meta, Epic Games, and hundreds of others would not sink the billions that they already have into the venture. These brands are expecting the metaverse to migrate from entertainment purposes to business and professional purposes too.
To both create and garner value from the metaverse, brands must critically analyze what it can do for their sales, marketing efforts, and overall image. But the brands that do this sooner rather than later are the brands that will maximize the available opportunities in the future.
With metaverses evolving and brand case studies emerging, it’s likely that the metaverse will see consumer and corporate adoption steadily increase. For this reason, brands need to understand the tech and design requirements of the metaverse. This is true for metaverse-adjacent technologies too, such as in augmented and virtual reality.
The metaverse is a whole new dimension of innovation and opportunity, but that also leads to a lot of difficulties. Finding the right design team to create digital avatars and other materials for online campaigns can be a challenge. So why not use the design partners that Meta, Epic Games, and a range of other companies are already making the most of?
Whatever design needs you have - for metaverse material or any other marketing elements - you’re in good hands with the experts at Superside. Whether it’s illustrations, motion graphics, video, or a range of other design services, Superside can provide you with the complete package.
Sofie is a Senior SEO & Content expert who specializes in Operational Management. From being a journalist at your daily news television broadcast, to producing videos and writing travel blogs; she has ended up at the more technical side of content and has a nose for sniffing out the creative pieces that will make your competitors look like digital noobs.
When not answering all SEO questions with ‘that depends…’, she is happily cooking up a storm, tasting wine and cheese samples or searching for the best flight tickets to her next travel destination. She is happy to connect with you on LinkedIn.
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