Metaverse is not just Meta. Nor is it exclusively about buying virtual possessions or real estate. It's time to understand it as a new space with completely new possibilities.
Metaverse is not just meta. Nor is it exclusively about buying virtual possessions or real estate. An article about the potentials and the future of marketing in the metaverse. It would be a mistake to equate the metaverse with meta. Brands and advertisers should avoid this at all costs. The company may be trying to sell us an ambitious dream for the future, but it is currently failing to make the added values recognisable to us users. And so people are slowly starting to wave off the metaverse, even before it has taken on a mass-suitable shape. I would like to show you how the concept of a metaverse can already look today and perhaps will look in the future.
When Neal Stephenson coined the term metaverse in his novel "Snow Crash" in 1992, the technical possibilities of today were still far away. The digital parallel world of avatars and insane stories was more fantasy than reality. As an author of so-called hard science fiction, i.e. works that passionately delve into the scientific part of fiction, Snow Crash today takes on prophetic features.
Because 30 years later, pushed by a global pandemic and boosted by billions of dollars from Silicon Valley, the metaverse is at the top of many companies' digital agendas. And even if the Second Life pain still runs deep for many of the older ones among us, it is worth taking a look at the opportunities that the new internet already offers or will soon offer.
I would argue that hardly anyone outside our marketing tech bubble can explain to you what exactly the Metaverse is (or has even heard of it). Some may think: "Ah, the Metaverse! It's where you buy properties and go to virtual parties." But the Metaverse is not exclusively about Zuckerberg's vision, even though the meta-corporation is of course trying to dominate this development. But metaverse is not just meta. Nor is it exclusively about buying virtual property or real estate. The metaverse creates entirely new experiences out of the potentials of the internet.
Do you have children or are you under 20 yourself? If so, you've probably heard of Roblox. It is said that two thirds of all American kids regularly dive into the world of Roblox, which is described by many experts as the closest creation to the metaverse at the moment.
In Roblox, for example, there is something like an economic system. You can earn digital money, the Robux, and spend it again in exchange for objects or clothing. The worlds and games in this virtual environment are not created by the Roblox Corporation - the development studio that is now worth billions - but by the approximately 200 million players worldwide themselves. Younger generations move in digital worlds as a matter of course, and in Roblox they also create them. It is important for them to be a personality not only offline, but also online. Whether in today's digital environment or in the metaverse of the future.
For the first steps in the metaverse, a notebook and a reasonably powerful internet connection are often enough. But the experience only becomes truly immersive when you get yourself a virtual reality headset such as the "Oculus Quest 2". When I installed the first "Oculus Rift" in the agency six years ago, it was helpful to have a degree in computer science. It took a few steps to get the device started at all. The time and effort I invested until I could finally experience a graphically rather disappointing roller coaster ride could just as well have been spent on a trip to Heidepark. There was also no danger of the adrenaline-fuelled pleasure being cut short because a cable was pulled out of the socket by too hasty a movement.
Today's "Oculus Quest 2" can no longer be compared to this kind of user experience. High-quality haptics and good wearing comfort meet simple installation and sophisticated software. I can only recommend giving it a try. Another innovation push is to be expected with the release of the "Apple Glasses" and Sony has also recently presented a new VR Gear.
Basically, there are no limits to the experiences. And it is precisely these experiences with added value that will integrate into our lives in the long term:
Watch NBA games live and from every possible perspective.
Enjoy movies at home in 8K and with great sound, without having to share your living room with a huge TV and a space-consuming audio system.
Attend business meetings online that don't feel like a phone call with streaming video.
Brands become tangible, marketing immersive and storytelling taken to new levels. Whether you will enter the metaverse in VR in the future or whether AR or XR implementations will prevail instead remains to be seen. What is clear is that users will increasingly be present in the metaverse, regardless of whether they are based on VR, AR or XR.
A great example of the potentials of an immersive, experiential metaverse is the virtual island of Watopia in "Zwift". The paid online platform currently offers virtual training for running and cycling to over two million people. The gamification approach has an enormous impact on the motivation of users to get on their bikes regularly. Of course, you need the right hardware to start the interactive cycling experience. For example, in order for the training to adapt to different terrain changes in the virtual environment, you need either a compatible exercise bike or a roller trainer like the "Wahoo Kickr Snap", on which you can install your own racing bike.
Zwift shows that sophisticated periphery can become a revenue stream and foreshadows the experiences that the Metaverse makes possible: it gives you a comparable experience while detaching you from geographical boundaries. With one click, you can cycle along the Champs Élysées in glorious weather. You can cycle your favourite routes on your own racing bike, whether it's raining outside, the sun is shining or snow is falling. If you want, you can take part in timed events, compete with 300 fellow athletes against real professional athletes or train with the best coaches in the world. As an on-demand service, which you are used to from Netflix and Co.
By driving, you reach new levels and gain points that you can invest in new and better equipment. The opportunities for marketing are huge in such an environment. From temporary events, exclusive events to meet and greets, brands could create experiences here in the Metaverse.
The conditions for the Metaverse as a value-added part of our lives seem to be fulfilled: Adolescent generations who love the digital meet powerful technology and content that rocks. What does this mean for your brand communication?
It means that brands need to rethink their communication because it's not done with running banner ads and selling digital chocolate. Instead, a brand has to become part of the new experience or even create the experience itself. And it must do so by recognising and exploiting the potential of the metaverse early on. By not mirroring the real world into the metaverse, but understanding it as a new space with completely new possibilities. By becoming part of the metaverse generation.