With greater accessibility and innovation around VR- and AR-capable devices, the market for all things meta is poised to explode in the coming years. Which segments of the market will be actively engaging with it will largely depend on how far innovators can go in lowering tech barriers.
“How we access the metaverse will be the biggest barrier in scaling and appealing to a broader consumer category who are not necessarily thrilled about being ‘plugged in’ all day, every day,” said Katy Zimmerman, communications director at Barkley. going to come down to hardware innovation and AR helping to bridge that gap.”
Zooming in on core communities
One sentiment experts seem to echo again and again is that the value of the metaverse has to be understood beyond a translation of real-world into virtual.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the metaverse will enhance rather than disrupt IRL human life,” said Zimmerman.
If the metaverse is about more than just translating the real into the virtual, brands will have to think beyond traditional ways of finding relevance.
“It’s incredibly exciting to think about how the rules of storytelling begin to apply to these new platforms, tools and worlds,” said Mike Woods, director of immersive content and executive creative director at Mss ng P eces. “A virtual recreation of our own existence needs the chaos and entropy of everyday life, the sensibilities of discovery, of community, of communication. The rules of real time and real world, applied to unique objects, such as NFTs, and geo-locations of a decentralized metaverse of the future, upends traditional storytelling virtues. And as history tells us with any disruption of the story model, this presents an incredible opportunity for brands brave enough to embrace the new.”
In this context, the new may also require a renewed perspective on engagement and reach. While a successful real-world campaign may be defined by reaching and impacting as many people as possible, with metaverse commerce, it may be more about homing in on the true fans and super-users.
“NFT mechanics don’t require brands to have a significant audience base in order to generate revenue—just look at how Adidas turned 30,000 people into $24 million via an NFT drop last year,” said Admix’s Huber. about giving value to the superfans who care about brands. The ad industry has a new opportunity to offer communities real value, versus simply making money from them.”
Those same brands also have an opportunity to connect in a values-driven way. With the metaverse being defined in real time every day, brands will also have to figure out how to grow and navigate that world responsibly.
“We have a unique opportunity to create a better world,” said Tom Hyde, VP of strategy at Movers+Shakers.” Pioneering creators can define things like scale and physics, and also actively guide how users interact with and treat each other. We can create a metaverse that is defined by joy and lifts people up in a way that social media has often failed to do, prioritizing gifting over greed, inclusion over exclusivity.”
Within this context, brands—especially the big ones—have a very real-world responsibility. Just as consumers today—especially values-driven Gen Z consumers—expect the brands they hold dear to follow a certain moral code IRL, so too will brands have to be conscious of the impact their virtual actions create.
“As with the physical world, brands in the metaverse act as patrons, actively supporting causes, communities and creators that reflect their values,” said Hyde. “Early adopting brands have an outsized influence—and greater responsibility—to push the medium in a positive direction.”
So, what does metaverse marketing look like?
How brands push the medium, and in what directions, is still to be seen, but industry leaders caution against a copy-and-paste approach of real world to virtual.
“We shouldn’t directly replicate real-world retail experiences, noting Walmart’s skeuomorphic approach to shopping in the metaverse,” said Admix’s Huber. “Instead, we need to re-imagine commerce by leveraging the best that the metaverse has to offer. It’s about creating valuable brand experiences that add to the consumer experience, not detract.”