Advertising in the Metaverse: A new frontier for marketers?
Since Facebook announced its rebranding to Meta, there has been a lot of buzz around the “Metaverse”. Meta claims it’s the future of the internet, but what does it mean for marketers?
Meta is building a virtual reality (VR) social media platform, but it’s still too early in the process to sufficiently define what that will mean for advertisers, or indeed social media users. Consider when scientists pioneered the internet in the 1970s. People had plenty of predictions for what the web would eventually look like, but no one could have predicted where it would eventually lead us.
The same goes for the Metaverse.
Despite the fact that so much is up in the air in terms of VR technology advancements, there’s still plenty of interest from marketers. And that’s mostly because new, innovative ways to market products and services means reaching new, younger audiences and generating higher profit margins. Well, that’s the hope, at least.
Entering the Metaverse
Before we go further, let's discuss what the Metaverse actually is.
What is the Metaverse?
In essence, the Metaverse is a spatial computing platform offering digital experiences that reflect the real world. Spending money, trading goods, owning property and socially interacting are all possible in the Metaverse.
The VR world is the next step up in digital social interaction. There, you can collaborate with teams, make social connections, learn, buy items and participate in activities in 3D digital spaces.
The Metaverse is quite literally a virtual (and mixed) reality that you access through a pair of headset phones and an internet browser.
But the Metaverse isn’t just one realm. It’s currently a series of smaller, disconnected Metaverses — similar to the internet’s early days (e.g, .aol, .com, .net). Each separate Metaverse has its own currency, avatars, interactions and access entry points.
There is an incentive for companies to research and understand how the VR world works. As these realms become easier to access and use, more people will interact with them, opening up opportunities to market to them.
Metaverse users can create, buy and sell goods and services in a digital economy. And in turn, businesses can exercise their Metaverse marketing and Metaverse advertising techniques to keep up with customers’ demands.
Metaverse advertising opportunities will only expand as the VR world continues to progress.
Why is the Metaverse important?
The Metaverse has drawn a lot of interest because its potential is endless — especially for selling and buying goods. Investors in particular like it because it’s a hotbed of new ideas with high money-making potential.
And because it can influence both digital and physical daily life, the Metaverse is at the forefront of the latest technological discoveries. It’s meant to mirror (and romanticise) regular aspects of life — whether through collaboration, socialising, shopping or something else altogether.
As time passes, the Metaverse will become more advanced and dynamic. Developers will optimise it to perform functions that support your business. Whether that’s promoting physical products or selling digital products, your business can better collaborate with its customers.
Marketing in the Metaverse
Leading platforms are building brand experiences in the Metaverse. To understand this concept better, let’s explore some platforms that help bring companies’ visions to life.
Metahero is a project that allows users to scan real physical objects and then move them into the Metaverse. The main focus is to bring actual objects into the VR world through photogrammetric, high-definition technologies.
Additionally, Metahero 3D avatars let users explore social media, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), fashion and more. And Metahero uses these avatars for both people and real-world items.
Meta Horizon Worlds
Another Meta VR social app is Horizon Worlds. There, users can socialise, engage in activities, explore the digital environment and even hold professional business meetings.
Horizon Worlds doesn’t involve blockchain technology. It instead uses VR building blocks that help content creators make music, animation effects and more.
Yet another social VR, Decentraland is blockchain-based. Users navigate its platform to trade and earn money, build and explore.
It also permanently documents Bitcoin transactions spanning a wide-scale network of computers.
On Decentraland, you can enjoy and learn about various virtual experiences, conduct meetings and trade goods in digital marketplaces.
The Sandbox is a 3D VR world where users can build things, make money and interact on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s not the cheapest platform to use, but it does support several devices, including smartphones and Windows phones.
Users can earn SAND coins and use them to pay their expenses (e.g. gas).
Bloktopia is a 21-story VR structure that gives users a fully immersive experience. And because 21 million Bitcoins are currently in use and circulating on its platform, there’s a lot of high revenue-generating potential.
Users can participate in multiple digital activities, design avatars, study cryptocurrencies (also known as crypto) and even buy virtual real estate in the structure tower. There’s also a builder tool that allows users to create games and artwork, among much else.
Understanding the features of the Metaverse
Leveraging Metaverse advertising opportunities in your marketing strategy depends on some key features. Let’s check them out.
1. Enhancing avatars
Creating a digital avatar is one of the first ways you can personalise and express yourself in the Metaverse. Each person — as well as each business — has its own personal digital identity. Your avatar identity can be animated or static.
Your avatar can be a two-dimensional icon that serves as your user pic or profile picture. But they can offer more functions within a game. Using keyboards, specialised human-computer interaction (HCI) devices, mice, joysticks and more helps users have greater control over their avatars by making them more “real.”
Plus, the more lifelike your avatar is, the more immersive your viewers’ experience will be. This is where gamification comes into play. It’s the act of encouraging people to spend money as part of a game.
For example, Zynga and Best Buy teamed up and brought their stores into the VR world via the Meta game, Cityville. This game has a far reach and a wide range of players. As a result, both Best Buy and Zynga gained customer awareness of their brands, products and features and saw profits from increased sales.
2. Operating with blockchains
Think of blockchains as a public spreadsheet that stores data records of these virtual realities, and the products and features within them. They’re crucial to the VR world because eCommerce businesses (and other users) can verify that their data hasn’t changed once established.
So, if you have digital assets (i.e. virtual assets requiring digital proof of ownership such a cryptocurrency or NFTs), you can feel assured that they’re safe from being copied, substituted or subdivided.
Meta advertisers can use VR worlds to market and sell digital products. Metaverse users can purchase these products using crypto. For example, Gucci created a digital version of its Dionysus bag which sold for a higher price than the physical bag. It saw incredible sales of this digital bag from customers via the Metaverse.
Another example is Nike, which recently released Cryptokicks as an NFT. Nike Cryptokicks are the digital version of the brand’s Nike Dunk sneakers.
3. Buying virtual land
There’s a high demand for virtual property in the Metaverse, which anyone can purchase with cryptocurrencies. The Metaverse considers virtual land an NFT that businesses can also sell to users. And it measures the size of land in pixels.
For example, a portion of a block on a VR street might cost X amount of dollars (or crypto) because it requires 800 pixels.
If you’re a business owner, you can buy virtual land to represent your storefront. If your plot of land is close to or on a popular VR street, users are more likely to spot it, and buy from your business.
You can also buy virtual land to display advertisements for your real-world or digital products and services. Fortunately, advertising space typically costs less than a storefront or showroom.
4. Using artificial intelligence (AI)
AI is crucial to the Metaverse because it drives robotic interactions, supervised speech processing, content research and analysis, and so much more. This enables you to enhance your advertisements and marketing methods in the Metaverse.
Consider using AI bots with lifelike avatars to represent your sales, marketing and customer service teams. The better your relationships are with customers in the Metaverse, the more likely they are to purchase and stay loyal to your brand.
5. Focusing on social interactions
Humans can interact with the Metaverse through avatars or some other digital representation.
Despite its limitations, the Metaverse is becoming more lifelike, which creates more immersive and convincing customer experiences. The more “real” the VR world is, the easier it is to engage with users in the same ways your business does in the real world.
6. Supporting Web3
Web3 and Metaverse are two buzzwords circulating around the internet. They’re closely related because they both represent a concept that changes the way we use the internet (i.e. the next generation of the web).
In sum, Web3 focuses on decentralising ownership and control of the internet — control is put in the hands of its users. The top three components of web3 include:
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)
As for the Metaverse, shared digital realities allow users to interact in real time, build economies, as well as communicate and connect with each other.
Because Web3 is secure (more secure than Web2), it doesn’t require permissions to access specific services and is decentralised (meaning data is stored in blockchain). In short, there’s more leeway.
Web3 makes it easier to advertise, sell, purchase, own and create digital assets such as NFTs and more in the Metaverse.
The Metaverse isn’t wholly “new”. It’s the result of years of AI research that has advanced and enabled immersive interaction.
Let’s look at some of the risks and opportunities involved in immersive advertising.
A new way to interact with users
The Metaverse provides a fresh and unique way for your company to interact with customers.
In terms of promoting your business and reaching new customers, you can use virtual items, AR and VR showrooms and branded gaming. You can even build 3D marketing experiences that capture users’ attention by engaging them in new ways in order to help you gain leads and retain customers.
Access to virtual events for businesses
Conferences and live events are possible in the Metaverse, and users can view them either in person or online. And instead of using the standard Zoom or Google Meet streaming options, you can run your lecture, conference or marketing event via the Metaverse.
In a December 2021 survey, Statista reported that 74% of US adults said they’d join or were considering joining the Metaverse. And 28% of adults foresee educational opportunities. With these numbers, companies can leverage this interest and deliver human-to-human connection in the digital world.
Most people can’t travel far for one-time live events, so the ability to stream them via VR gives you greater access to potential customers and partners. Common platforms for businesses to hold brand marketing events include Rec Room and VRChat.
So whether your goal is to network, engage, educate, or sell products to participants, you can do so in the VR world.
Advertise and sell goods
Many businesses already use augmented reality AR technology to allow customers to virtually try on and test things. For instance, traditional AR allows users to try on a pair of sunglasses, as well as see and test how a new piece of furniture looks in their apartment.
If you lease or purchase commercial virtual property in the Metaverse, you can have VR shops and showrooms to display your goods. Users avidly buy products in the VR arena, so why not take advantage of it?
New media methods for advertising
Brands have access to global audiences via Metaverse platforms. And that’s especially helpful for eCommerce businesses regardless of their Metaverse advertising market size and budget.
The Metaverse also enables companies to create their own worlds to represent their brands. Traditional advertising via video, image, ad and words don’t facilitate this. For instance, you can leverage storytelling techniques with video and interactive games to raise brand awareness.
What’s more, VR audience members can create avatars and become active participants in your realm, furthering their engagement with your brand. Advertising in the Metaverse allows your business to create a unique and immersive experience for customers. It’s also a more engaging way to get your marketing message across.
Advertising in the Metaverse is a great way to reach new audiences and scale your business globally. Wherever your business takes you, Airwallex is here to support your growth plans.
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