Deyon Brown, our Digital Consultant in North America, explores the Metaverse – the latest digital frontier. What do marketers need to do about it?
Remember when Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the talk of the town a couple of decades ago? It was the next step in our evolution to live like that 1960s animated sitcom, The Jetsons. While AI has indeed become a part of our everyday lives, most of us aren’t living anywhere near the Jetsons’ fully-automated lifestyle. Who has an autonomous robot maid?! First aired in 1962, the Jetsons lived in a world 100 years in the future. We are now only 40 years away from that date and the world is being introduced to the newest piece of technology that could have you living in Orbit City – or any other city for that matter – via the virtual verse. Welcome to the Metaverse, the future of the internet.
What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is a digital reality interface that uses features of social media, online gaming, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and cryptocurrencies. It allows users to interact with one another on a multidimensional level. Instead of just viewing online content through our devices, users will be able to immerse themselves in a space where the digital and physical worlds meet. Think of all the sci-fi movies and TV shows you’ve seen that feature scenes where VR and AR were part of the story. Star Trek: Next Gen’s holodeck, 1999’s The Matrix and 2009’s Avatar would all be considered part of the Metaverse.
The Metaverse is happening now, not in the future
The average person likely thinks that the Metaverse is impossibly far in the future or ‘not in my lifetime‘. However, Metaverse creators are hard at work now, making the platform a thing of the very near future. Coined in 1992, Metaverse conceptualization appears to have exploded while we were locked down in a global pandemic, as we were forced to explore other avenues of interaction besides physical. The technology and online gaming sectors have long researched the Metaverse concept of bridging VR, AR and the multidimensional. Now, they’re leading the charge to make it a reality in our lifetime. The gigantic tech conglomerates are investing heavily in developing Metaverse ecosystems and devices. Indeed, Facebook has put a huge bet on what it views as the next digital frontier by renaming its parent company ‘Meta’. Meanwhile, venture capitalists are taking note. They’re investing in creators who are building processes to make the Metaverse more accessible and engaging.
A new world for the advertising industry
For marketers, the Metaverse will be a new advertising landscape to navigate, but one loaded with opportunities. Brands will have access to an entirely new platform where they can engage users just as they would in a physical environment. When the Metaverse concept becomes reality, users will be able to immerse themselves in any experience or activity, at any time. Imagine the interactive, dynamic and personalized ad placement possibilities that could be achieved during the time a user spends in a Metaverse ecosystem. Interactive live events through gaming platforms are already used as a means of simultaneously engaging millions of users. Brands have recognized the potential in reaching such large audiences. Roblox, an online gaming platform, has more than 200 million monthly active users, two-thirds of whom are age 16 and under. This is the ideal built-in audience for advertisers to begin building brand loyalty.
More potential than the internet
Brands are, rightfully so, cautious of this new medium and its lack of oversight. Much of the Metaverse’s infrastructure is yet to be defined. The technology to support millions of users participating in the same activities and experiences doesn’t yet exist. Even if the first Metaverse iterations fall short of what sci-fi lovers have envisioned, it is still likely to have significant valuation as a new platform and content provider. Should it supersede the internet, the economic upside would surpass its predecessor based on greater reach, greater user interactions and greater commercial activities. Countless new companies, products and services will emerge to manage the functionalities of the new medium. These will include ad delivery interfaces.
Adapt or die
There won’t be an announcement that the Metaverse is here, so don’t wait for one. Instead, it will be a growth of innovative capabilities, products and services intersecting with each other. The result will be an encompassing arena where everyone will have access.
Marketers, the future is now. If you haven’t already, begin researching how best you can seamlessly integrate your brands into this new medium. In this instance, the adage ‘adapt or die’ couldn’t be more poignant.
Header image: ESB Professional / Shutterstock