The Metaverse is a giant cash cow. There’s no need to dig any deeper. It’s not going to be the socialist utopia that Tim Berners Lee dreamt the original World Wide Web would be.
If you’re a media tech titan like Disney, Epic Games, or Facebook, then staking real estate in the metaverse is a logical extension of your current business. If you’re a content creator then new forms of monetization — NFTs, blockchain, disintermediated payments — will be a backbone of the Metaverse if you believe the hype and if you’re a brand then you have to be where the eyeballs are headed.
Picking up that latter point, Alaster Armitage-Brain, senior digital producer at ad agency Imagination asks: what is the Metaverse and why should brands take it seriously?
Describing the Metaverse as an “experience ecosystem” he says it will open up “a whole new blended-reality world for future-thinking brands willing to boldly go.”
We have become accustomed to the blending of the real world and virtual worlds, he argues, especially since the pandemic has made many more people familiar with and accepting of the benefits of the virtual world.
“The metaverse is the next stage along this journey — joining the physical and the digital worlds in new ways. For example, an experience on the high street might have a digital twin in the metaverse.”
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Currently we all connect with friends, family, and colleagues online and millions of us use “hyper-connected platforms” such as Facebook or WeChat. We can log in to any website and store our personal information and share relevant data with our connections — but it’s still a digital world, separated from the physical one.
Armitage-Brain suggests that what will happen — indeed, has already begun to occur — is that the internet will decentralize.
“The internet giants will no longer own users’ data outright; instead, the user will take full responsibility for their digital footprint. We are already seeing this with the uptake of cryptocurrency and NFT auctions which allow the ownership of digital assets to be recorded.”
Like physical cash payments transitioning to digital contactless payments, he predicts that social networking “will transition from a chat window on a website or in an app to AR moments over a dinner table at a restaurant with your friends.”
Advertisers are constantly looking for the next frontier, the next up-and-coming platform, the next “any space” where they can authentically connect with consumers.
The Drum identifies this as Roblox. The gaming platform recently received fresh attention from first-mover brands who see it as the media-tech crossover of today with the most advertising potential. Nike, Gucci, and Hot Wheels are among those investing in branded experiences on the site.
“With many younger players on Roblox, ones that will become the next generation of consumers, it makes sense that traditional brick-and-mortar brands would try to connect offline products to online worlds,” says Natalia Vasilyeva, VP of marketing at in-game advertising platform Anzu.
The field is being pioneered by media and content franchises. In-game partnerships have brought the worlds of Marvel Universe, DC Universe, Star Wars, John Wick, and Stranger Things into the Fortnite universe.
Brand marketing in the metaverse is still in its early days, says Vasilyeva, but as technology advances quickly and creativity flows, “we can expect to see more brands to enter the space in exciting and engaging ways. Although some advertising such as banner ads exist in Roblox, the channel is relatively untapped.”
Expect to see an explosion of advertisers popping up in Metaverse building platforms like Roblox, Fortnite and Minecraft making gaming a more regular part of their media mix.