The virtual reality (VR) market is expected to increase to more than USD 12 billion by 2024 and an equivalent rise is expected in the number of AR (augmented reality) users—95.1 million users by 2022 in the US alone. No doubt, technology has been rapidly evolving and users are exploring immersive experiences in virtual environments with the concept of ‘metaverse’ gaining much attention. For marketers, therefore, the next obvious interest area is digital marketing in metaverse. A few brands have already entered this uncharted space for promoting their products to millennials and Gen Z in a unique way.
In this article, we will try to uncover the metaverse, how it will transform the future of marketing, and some brands which are already tapping its creative power.
What Is Metaverse?
Fortnite and Roblox are some of the popular metaverses being explored by the brands to engage with their customers. But before we dive in deeper, let us understand what is a metaverse.
Metaverse can be defined as a concept that is a confluence of multiple technologies. It is a virtual space that exists in parallel to the physical world. AR and VR are used to create these 3D virtual universes accessible with special devices wherein you can build a character with life, create shops, host celebrations, meet or socialize with people—there are no limits! Many experts describe metaverse as something that never ends, pauses, or resets, and continues indefinitely with the involvement of various contributors. In fact, tech futurist Cathay Hackl has famously quoted that businesses and brands can become a ‘world builder’ in the metaverse.
What Are the Features of a Metaverse?
Here are some unique characteristics of a metaverse that make it a lucrative space.
- It does not stop or pause once a user leaves. In simple words, it is indefinitely active despite the presence or absence of users.
- It is a completely functional and self-contained space, meaning users can buy, create, learn, play, sell, own, or even invest. Moreover, users are recognized for their efforts in expanding the metaverse.
- It allows users to create and share content which is almost similar to user-generated content on social media platforms.
- It operates in real-time similar to the real world, making it feasible for marketing professionals to connect or engage with their target audiences at the right time.
- It allows users to conduct multiple activities at the same time.
- It comprises various platforms that can work independently or in tandem, allowing users to exchange items, messages, etc. across a number of digital environments.
Digital Marketing in Metaverse: What Are Other Brands Doing?
Many experts believe that metaverse will grow exponentially as an interactive platform for digital marketing. With the changing behavior of customers post-pandemic, virtual experiences have become a preference and that is why metaverse is here to stay. Since advertising in the metaverse is relatively new, the cost of running campaigns is low and even the simple campaigns are garnering much attention from the customers. In fact, a lot of startups are providing digital marketing services for NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
Some brands are already in with a bang! Here are some interesting developments.
- Mark Zuckerberg introduced (precisely renamed Facebook) Meta to transform Facebook into a metaverse platform.
- Nike bought the next-generation sneakers brand in the metaverse and generated a revenue of more than USD three million in around seven minutes. They have also entered the metaverse Roblox, creating NIKELAND for users and fans to connect, share, play, style avatars with Nike gear, and much more.
- The luxury brand, Louis Vuitton launched a game, ‘Louis: the Game’ to mark their founder’s birthday. The users who play as Vivienne traverse through whimsical lands to collect candles to get a chance to win historical postcard NFTs.
- Adidas Originals has also launched an NFT marketplace, ‘Into the Metaverse’ with users getting exclusive access to the physical goods and experiences.
- Consumer electronics brand, Samsung has opened a store 837X in Decantraland, a blockchain-powered metaverse. It has been launched to replicate its flagship New York experience center.
- Vans, the skateboarding brand’s virtual skatepark ‘Vans World’ in Roblox allows users to earn redeemable points to create and customize their avatars from a virtual store.
- The luxury brand, Gucci has created ‘Gucci Garden’ in Roblox that offers an interactive experience similar to that of their real-world, Florence-based Gucci Garden. They have also launched exclusive digital sneakers ‘Gucci Virtual 25’ that is available in Roblox and VRChat.
Here are some of the common themes or strategies that are being explored by the marketers for digital marketing in metaverse which are quite evident from the above examples.
- Creating experiences that are similar to what the brand does in the real world.
- Advertising on virtual billboards. Since metaverse offers an immersive experience, brands are looking beyond these billboards and at virtual events and installations where users can interact.
- Making collectibles such as exclusive or limited-edition products available as rewards only in the metaverse.
- Engaging with existing users and developer communities to gain more traction. It may be considered influencer marketing—in the metaverse, you partner with creators who are already experts on the platform to make your campaigns successful. In fact, there are virtual influencers too including Puma’s Maya and Yoox’s Daisy.
- Using real-world celebrities as avatars such as the digital avatar of actress Angelababy created by Dior or those of Kendall Jenner and Naomi Campbell who appeared for Burberry’s.
How Will SEO, Content Marketing, and Social Media Marketing Change in the Metaverse?
We pretty much know how SEO and advertising work on search engines. Primarily, marketers rely on texts, images, and videos to reach out to their target audience.
As VR continues to get bigger, the visuals and storylines of the brands will transform to 3D in the virtual space. Since most of the content available today is quite passive, interactive media will be at the forefront in the future. Many experts believe it may be too early to foretell how SEO may change. Still, they predict that the Google search engine may offer a combination or mixed reality search engine that will allow users to search and visit sites in the virtual world using VR technology.
The social media platforms may look similar to the metaverses of today such as Fortnite or Roblox, allowing users to make their own avatars to interact, browse, and make purchases. It has been pointed out that VR will impact the entire journey of the users and customers in the metaverse.
Digital Marketing in Metaverse: The Challenges
The possibilities in digital marketing in metaverse are limitless but it comes with its unique set of challenges. Here are some of the common concerns.
- Since metaverse relies heavily on technology, accessibility to all customers may limit the success of marketing campaigns. All brands may not find their target audience as it is a niche environment, increasing the chances of alienating potential customers who do not have access to the technology.
- Brands may face challenges in communicating with their customers as it may appear blunter in the metaverse. The placements and messaging will be critical in making sure your campaigns integrate well with the virtual environment and yet intrigue your target audience.
- There may be concerns related to digital security and data privacy among customers. Since verification of the users will require additional data, there will be an increased risk. That is why brands may need to be more mindful in defining and practicing data privacy policies.
- More control over the users may also prove troublesome for brands if some users interfere with the placements or messaging, or add questionable items in the virtual space that do not align with the brand.
Digital marketing in metaverse offers a promising space for brands and businesses with limitless creative possibilities. Moreover, it offers the opportunity for marketers to come out of their comfort zones to be innovative and experimental in their communication and marketing strategies. With challenges related to technology and data privacy, the brands need to be seamless, precise, and mindful in reaching out to their customers to script success stories in this virtual world!