Updated: Feb 28
The Metaverse: It’s the latest topic in technology, the future of marketing, and the future of well, the future. But there’s one question on everyone’s mind — what is the Metaverse? And that is a very good question. Asking what the Metaverse is is very much like asking what the internet is. There’s not one simple answer, but we’ll try to break it down.
The Metaverse is both real and not real — it’s a virtual space that you may only be familiar with through gaming. But it’s actually an environment ripe with potential if you know what you’re doing. Yet, it’s somehow easy enough for kids to control, play in, and even develop in. Ever heard of Minecraft? World of Warcraft? While those aren’t perfect examples of the Metaverse, they’re starting points to understanding it. You’re part of another world where you have the tools to create and live how you want, where you create whatever comes to mind or cultivate skills that might not be possible in real life.
Anyone familiar with Sci-Fi tropes would call this ‘cyberspace’ and that would be quite on point. It’s a virtual world with unlimited possibilities and is currently not owned by one single person. The Metaverse offers so many spaces to explore and experiment in whether through VR goggles, your laptop or PC, or a gaming console. You can literally transport yourself to another world while remaining in your living room.
Is it new? Not exactly. The Metaverse has been around for nearly as long as the internet has, it’s just become a more sought after asset for companies to take advantage of, especially after the pandemic led us all to take a more virtual approach to life.
But what kind of possibilities does it offer for marketing? So. Many. There are events aplenty that can be hosted in the Metaverse —concerts, conventions, parties, and more — plus you can spend “real” money. And just as with physical events there are sponsorship and partnership opportunities using influencers, spokespersons, and even mascots. Entertainers like The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and other top-performing artists have already made their concert debuts in the Metaverse, opening the door to amazing possibilities with top headliners. And it’s all being done for free or with in-world currency. Yes, that’s right, in-world currency. While we won’t break down the currency exchange options (because they are quite literally limitless), just know that the opportunity to make your own digital economy is there. Walmart is already preparing to create their own cryptocurrency and NFTs to get into the virtual currency game. A video even showed what a virtual shopping experience with Walmart could be like, though it wasn’t interactive and was a brand activation made for the retailer, it showed the possibility.
What you do in the Metaverse is up to you. You can hold meetings, build a home or community, create an entirely new persona and life that only exists there. You can play games, you can explore places around the world, you can walk along the beach without getting your feet wet. And it’s because it’s so capable and moldable it offers a new environment for experimental marketing. From including an ad on virtual billboards to sponsoring in-world merch and tools, the phrase “if you think it, you can do it” is an accurate approach to marketing within the Metaverse. One popular strategy is creating immersive experiences like concerts and events with a virtual venue.
Now, you may be asking yourself “can you really market virtual merchandise? It doesn’t actually exist!” and while it does seem odd, it’s actually an incredibly viable market. One thing about the Metaverse audience is that they want digital collectables, limited items, and virtual experiences that only the Metaverse can provide. One example of this is the gaming platform known as Roblox. Children and adults spend real money to get the in-universe currency (called Robux) to spend on items for their avatars and to increase their in-game experiences. There have even been big celebrity-led events that came with limited-edition items and worlds. Companies like Facebook (aka Meta) and Disney+ have already stepped into this world, using the virtual space for ads and promising experiences. And for a marketing team, this offers so many opportunities that would have otherwise seemed costly. Creating items that would otherwise be highcost to mass produce or assembling an entire festival-like experience without actually renting space, providing food, or other accommodations are possible in the Metaverse. You just need some highly skilled programers familiar with the system and that’s becoming a more widely available skill.
Another opportunity lies in offering parallel items. You have physical merch that includes a code to get a matching virtual item. This has been utilized by a lot of companies like Nerf or The Pokemon Company because of their ties to Metaverse experiences. You’re offer your audience two items rather than one, and it becomes a deal they can’t pass up!
While we’re only just beginning to dip our toe into the waters of the Metaverse, it’s a rapidly growing and changing environment that we could dive into completely by the end of the year.