We hear about it at school and in company offices, journalists and podcasters debate it on television and on the radio, there are even people on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok who are building their future around it. But what is the Metaverse? And how can we use it in our digital marketing strategies ?
To understand what the metaverse is we must first do a very quick overview.
Metaverse: the origins and main purpose
Web 1.0 was a static web, where people could only read the information they were looking for.
Web 2.0 is what we have been used to up to now, it is a dynamic web, in which users can interact with each other, create content and share it with the whole world.
Web 3.0 represents the decentralization of that web 2.0 which we know is driven by the “usual suspects” giants.
The metaverse was born here, designing the future of web 3.0, and its aim is to further increase user involvement , providing them with an entire alternative virtual universe in which to immerse themselves.
The metaverse represents a network of interconnected virtual worlds . This means that people will be able to move from one activity to another in a fluid and constantly engaging way, as it is an infrastructure that deeply connects digital spaces , whether dedicated to work and learning , but also to leisure and entertainment . The user will therefore find themselves living a completely new virtual experience compared to the current one.
The Metaverse Glossary
Like any self-respecting explorer, before starting a journey it is a good idea to learn at least the basic linguistics of the place you are about to visit. So here are some useful terms to keep in mind as you delve into the Metaverse.
First of all we must understand the reality in which we will find ourselves:
Metaverse : a shared collective virtual space, created by the convergence of augmented reality with a persistent 3D virtual space that combines elements of virtual, augmented and internet reality
XR (eXtended Reality) : is a generic term that includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR).
VR (Virtual Reality) : digital reproduction of a real, alternative or both environment in which the user can move and interact. It can be an entire museum, a gaming arena or a simple bar/cafe. There tends to be a complete masking of physical reality. Requires the use of dedicated viewers.
AR (Augmented Reality) : superimposition of virtual objects on the real world, through digitally created sensory elements. An example could be business cards which, when viewed with your AR device (mobile phone, glasses, etc.), interactively show some elements in your portfolio, or shop windows that allow you to virtually customize products or view them at interior of your home before purchasing. It adds elements to physical reality without blocking the view.
MR (Mixed Reality) : as suggested by the name, it is a reality capable of ranging between VR and AR.
Subsequently, we must become familiar with the terms that will describe ourselves, what we will have in our pockets and the places that we can frequent:
Avatar : alter ego used to interact in the virtual world. It is a graphical representation chosen by the user to interface with other users of the metaverse and with the metaverse itself.
MUVE (Multi User Virtual Environment) : these are simulated virtual spaces in which users interact with each other and with the environment, a bit like what happened with chatrooms, and can concern both informal and working environments. A company will be able to request the intervention of an expert across borders to contribute to a real project taking place in its offices simply by inviting him into its virtual space.
Cryptocurrency : represents the primary digital currency of web 3.0 . It is a currency that uses cryptography to ensure its generation, transaction and prevent counterfeiting. They are decentralized (they are not controlled by governments, banks or other central authorities). They are the most used currency in the sale of NFTs .
NFT (Non-Fungible Token) : These are digital tokens that represent unique assets. They can symbolize works of art such as illustrations, stories, musical pieces, but also video games, contracts, projects, in short, they can represent anything.
What it takes to connect to the Metaverse
The topic is quite complex and we will return to address it in more depth in a future article, but if we wanted to briefly summarize what is necessary to access the metaverse , here are the specific requests:
- a device with a high-speed internet connection
- a headset , among the most famous we find Oculus Quest , HTC Vive, Google Daydream and Microsoft HoloLens.
- a controller to interact with the virtual world
- an account registered with one or more services, such as Second Life, Fortnite, Roblox or Decentraland
Some viewers, especially high-end ones, are standalone , which means that they already have software, integrated connection and related controllers included in the purchase and therefore do not require additional devices to function, you just need to register on the desired platform.
How the metaverse will affect our lives
Whether for the films that have talked about it or for the increasingly pressing practice of gamification through virtual (VR) or augmented (AR) realities , when we talk about metaverse the first thought immediately goes to entertainment and videogames.
But it will not be only these fields that will feel the influence of such an immersive and innovative connection.
The pandemic has already shown us how important it is to have virtual places where we can interact with other people. The Metaverse will allow the creation of environments that will allow the user to experience things that they otherwise would not have been able to do in the real world: students will be able to participate in lessons or guided tours anywhere in the world without leaving school, it will be possible to carry out close-up studies in otherwise hostile, virtual workspaces can be createdwhere workers, regardless of where they are located, will be able to actively collaborate on various projects. Interoperability will be stripped of the burdens and obstacles of the real world and will finally be able to follow a more synergistic flow, offering users new opportunities for services and features , whether in the workplace, education or play.
How the metaverse will impact marketing
Imagine yourself in your office. Outside the large window stand immense billboards and countless signs. Even if you don’t notice them anymore, you see them every day. As well as the advertisements on the sides of the streets, the commercials between one program and another, or even the banners at the edge of the news section of your favorite social network.
Every marketing strategy within the current web aims to gain the user’s attention, and only if an excellent job of branding , advertising and lead nurturing has been done , the potential customer will decide to actively dedicate himself to our sponsorship.
But what would happen in a universe where people needed only one step to access any type of product or business?
Now imagine yourself inside the metaverse instead. Imagine yourself immersively carrying out any activity of your interest, which could be playing a video game, or creating a drawing, or viewing a recipe made by your favorite chef. At any time you will be able to interact with everything around you, simply by approaching it. You will be able to try firsthand the products and services that interest you, such as a new set of knives, a new pair of shoes, or a new type of organizer for your busy schedule.
Without leaving your home you will be able to have direct experiences throughvirtual tours of companies or you can even just walk through the shelves of a store on the other side of the world. In short, a single gesture will be enough to move freely from one brand to another in an engaging and interactive way.
The advantages of the metaverse for marketing campaigns
The Metaverse will offer companies new ways and strategies to market, as well as a huge amount of data useful for improving their campaigns .
Let’s try to analyze some aspects:
Creating engaging experiences
On the modern web, one of the biggest risks encountered when talking about marketing is the invasiveness of ads. The user offers resistance and there is often a risk that the advertising will have the opposite effect. By adopting the right strategies, the metaverse can instead offer positive virtual experiences, which allow people to interact with the Brand in a more direct and personal way , through simulations, demos, competitions and other activities.
Particular attention must be paid not only to the platform on which to rely (centralized or based on blockchain), but also to the design and format to be used for your campaign. Meta, Robolox, Horizon, Sandbox… identifying the right partner will help the brand reach its target, and by harmonizing the design of its campaign to the native environment of the chosen platform, interaction with the customer will be maintained constant, avoiding companies from being inconsistent or out of context.
Although there are no defined rules yet and there is still uncertainty about what practices are considered acceptable, the metaverse will offer companies the tools to make themselves more recognizable and familiar to users. It will be possible to create friendly and immediately recognizable corporate avatars with which the customer can interact, it will be possible to set up innovative and interactive virtual offices, shops and information points.
The metaverse can be used to generate qualified leads . Users can visit virtual showrooms , attend events and more. This can help companies gather information about potential customers and contact them later to finalize them.
Users can create their own avatar and interact with brands in a way that reflects their personality. This can help companies create more meaningful relationships with customers by improving sentiment . The user’s interaction with the surrounding virtual environment will allow the collection of information that normally could not be gleaned from the web “on screen”.
The metaverse can obviously be used to sell products and services , but it’s important to remember that users can purchase both physical and virtual goods , all without having to leave their virtual world. This, in addition to making the shopping experience simpler and more convenient, allows you to sponsor not only tangible products such as objects and clothing, but also branded items and skins for your avatars.
An important example: experiential marketing
But why are “ events ” mentioned so frequently when talking about the Metaverse? Simply because a company that provides its customer with an experience has much more impact than another that limits itself to simply selling its product.
Experiential marketing is a strategy that aims exactly at this: creating an emotional bond between the customer and the company brand, so that the customer is more likely to remember the brand and make purchases. And this is where events come into play: demos, workshops, concerts, live shows and podcasts.
Thanks to the metaverse, companies will have an entire alternative reality as a virtual stage where they will be able to create stories capable of involving users by making them empathize with the brand . In the metaverse, virtual events represent an important opportunity to make yourself known and communicate with the public.
The interaction could take place within another event, or even live shows and concerts could be created. It is therefore appropriate to say it: the only limit is one’s imagination. Once a desired virtual event is designed, companies could use cryptocurrencies to sell entrance tickets and NFTs to create personalized ads (such as event sponsorship), exclusive passes (for the most interested), but also collectibles (such as souvenirs of the event itself) and much more.
How big brands are moving in the metaverse
The number of multinationals choosing the metaverse for their digital campaigns is growing more and more. Let’s look at just a few:
NIKE – Campaign: Nikeland – Platform of choice: Roblox
The famous sportswear brand has created its MUVE (see above) full of events, where users can play basketball and other sports, but also interact with influencers and famous people, like the avatar that the large company has created for James LeBron.
Nike has also heavily invested in NFTs, creating highly sought-after collectible “virtual shoes” that can be purchased by users via cryptocurrencies, even earning $130,000 for a single ‘Cryptokicks’ (name chosen by Nike for its NFT campaign in collaboration with digital fashion company RTFKT)
Gucci – Campaign: Gucci Garden Experience – Platform of choice: Roblox
More than ten million users participated in the Gucci campaign, helping the company promote the brand even among younger audiences.
The very famous Italian fashion house has virtually recreated the Gucci Garden in Florence, “equipping” its virtual area so that users, accessing it in the form of bare mannequins, can explore it, purchase virtual clothes and accessories, but also participate in games and events that will allow him to customize his avatar.
Mercedes-Benz – Campaign: Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Platform of choice: Fortnite (Epic Games)
The car giant has chosen the battle royale giant as its partner in the metaverse. For the virtual campaign, the stadium that hosted the Super Bowl in 2019, the Mercedes-Benz of Atlanta, was reproduced. Fortnite users were able to visit the facility and attend some virtual events, reaching and exceeding 2 million accesses.
The metaverse represents a revolution that will end up in school books and will impact our lives in many aspects: from work to school, from scientific research to entertainment, everything will have its own safe and interactive virtual alternative version.
We can be not only the actors but also the directors of our stories, showing the world our vision and actively interacting with others. This represents an immense innovation for corporate marketing campaigns , which will be able to involve their audience, finally breaking the barrier that until now has been the screen of our device. And it doesn’t end here: through their avatars and thanks to the interactions they establish, the users themselves will be an active part of our storytelling.
It will be possible to exponentially increase your audience , for example when you are planning the presentation of a new product, simply by creating a virtual event attached to the campaign you are developing, thus providing people with the opportunity to participate not only physically, but also virtually , connecting to the event location directly from your homes.
Given the young age of this new alternative universe, it is important that companies remain open to innovation , adopting strategies that are ethical, transparent and above all focused on the user and the experience that will be offered to him, in this way it will be sufficient to direct the customer through stories that will intrigue him, instead of trying to push him in the hope that he will act.