Technology is constantly changing and evolving. We are now witnessing innovations that were unthinkable in the past. One of these innovations for us is the metaverse, a distinctive, immersive virtual space that is rapidly consuming the internet. With the continued growth of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality, Metaverse is permeating the internet (AR). According to a Statista report, there are over 171 million VR users across the globe.
From Facebook’s rebranding to Meta to Microsoft’s acquisition of gaming company Activision for the purpose of constructing a new Metaverse, all of the biggest names in technology are aiming for this virtual world. Other tech giants, such as Roblox and Epic Games, are vying to be the first in the race and have already made inroads.
Similarly, with big brands like Nike, Ikea, and McDonald’s adopting technology like AR and VR, it’s no surprise that the Metaverse market is expected to grow to $13 trillion by 2030.
This represents a massive opportunity for marketers. But to understand why, we need to answer an important question:
What exactly is the Metaverse?
The easiest way to think about the metaverse is as a continuation of today’s Internet landscape: a shared space where communities gather to share information, form and express their identities, and live increasingly large portions of their lives.
But the metaverse will go deeper, providing a persistent, 3D virtual space for us to experience life in ways otherwise impossible in the physical world.
Two technologies that are enabling the metaverse right now are Virtual Reality (VR) in the form of headsets, and Augmented Reality (AR) in the form of less intrusive glasses and even smartphone cameras. In this way, the metaverse connects to and includes physical spaces in a way traditional digital mediums have yet to.
Metaverse in India
While India has the lowest data rates in the world, the highest internet penetration, and a fully functional Metaverse with its own cryptocurrency, the ability to use NFT, multiplayer gaming, online shopping, and other services is still some ways off. More than just a fast internet connection is necessary to fully immerse oneself in the virtual world. High-tech hardware, such as a virtual reality headset, is also required to interact naturally within a virtual, three-dimensional world. To reach the level of technological development required to seamlessly enjoy a virtual experience in the metaverse, a number of technical obstacles must be overcome.
It will still be a few years before the metaverse is fully integrated into mainstream culture. For Western nations, which are at the forefront of hardware technology, a safe estimate of at least two years can be calculated. Users can interact with the metaverse with VR headsets like the Facebook-developed Oculus Quest 2, which costs upwards of $300, but there is still much ground to cover. However, it has at least another five years before it becomes widely used in India.
Metaverse for marketing
The creation of always-on, immersive 3D spaces for people to engage is a significant opportunity for brands to engage with their audiences. Companies can build games, experiences, and communities that extend from the virtual to the physical world, creating deeper brand affiliation and opportunities to integrate into customers’ lives.
The metaverse is a perfect opportunity for users to generate their own content. Not only does this allow for more identification with brands through closer personal interactions, it enables brand ambassadors to emerge as influencers. Given that influencer marketing has increased by 50% over the last 5 years, this is an area of marketing that should not be neglected.
However, there are risks involved. One challenge faced by organizations looking to use the metaverse is that the bar is extremely high, and the balance between immersive experience and native advertising is a tough one to walk. If the technology is used incorrectly, not only will the marketing campaign around it fail, but users will go away feeling as though they wasted their time with your organization.
Additionally, basic rules, policies, and enforcement best practices need to be created for everything from user safety and customer experience to data privacy and IP management. The metaverse happens in real-time, and poor customer experiences here can reflect poorly on a brand and be as costly as those that occur in the real world.
That said, here are four examples of successful metaverse marketing efforts from global brands:
In June 2022, Korean tech giant Samsung launched 837X, their own virtual world. Based on their flagship store in NYC, 837X provides a choose-your-own-adventure style of immersive experience, allowing users to interact with each other and create unique environments and games, customizing their experience using the same bold style Samsung seeks to link to their product offerings.
In partnership with metaverse juggernaut Roblox, Nike created a virtual world consisting of branded areas and buildings where users can play a variety of minigames. Dubbed Nikeland, the platform enables players to use IoT-connected accelerometers on their mobile devices to track physical movements, such as sprint time and jumping distance. And of course, Nikeland comes with a showroom where players can show off digital versions of all their favorite Nike products.
McDonald’s Hall of Zodiacs
In February 2022, McDonald’s collaborated with designer Humberto Leon to create a virtual exhibition consisting of an interactive showcase of the Chinese Zodiac. Users can learn their fortune and horoscopes for the year, as well as explore the animals in the zodiac. After they were finished, they could download a copy of everything to look back on and share with friends.
Ever wanted to see how new furniture will look in your home before you buy it? Well, now you can – at least if you’re shopping at Ikea.
Ikea’s new AR application lets users view – through their phone – what different pieces of furniture look like in a home. It’s possible to see multiple furniture types at once, including full room sets. It also has a feature that makes it possible to build furniture sets, like bathroom or kitchen cabinets, to determine what different pieces will look like in combination.
In a nutshell
Compared to conventional advertising, the metaverse provides a more immersive experience. The metaverse presents marketers with an opportunity to engage consumers in completely new ways while also expanding internal capabilities and brand innovation. The metaverse may still be in its infancy, and like all new technologies, it promises a bright outlook but comes with some limitations. Some of the challenges include concerns related to privacy and security, addictiveness for people who are looking to escape from reality and higher equipment costs. Marketers need to be aware that they might have trouble finding success all at once.
Metaverse marketing is definitely hyped as the next big thing in digital advertising. The target market will be found in the metaverse to a greater extent as technology advances. This trend will be more consumer-focused as it develops from the metaverse’s early roots in social media, massively multiplayer games, and immersive commerce. The business-oriented side of the app includes business applications, Internet of Things tools, digital twins, computer-aided design, and tools for remote work.