Welcome to the first part of our new series – Marketing For The Future! Each month, the DGT team will be bringing you helpful blogs looking into the most promising marketing tools, techniques and technologies that are set to shape the future of the field. What better place to start than with the Metaverse?
The Metaverse sounds like something straight out of Avatar, or Ready Player One – but it’s far from fictional. The Metaverse is making waves in marketing, and has been doing so for some time, but has recently been catapulted into the spotlight thanks to the success of various campaigns that have provided us with a new way of navigating the online world. The potential of the Metaverse is huge and, in all likelihood, it will become a significant part of the way we use the internet, and create sales and marketing strategies in the future.
Simply put, the Metaverse is an up and coming digital space which combines the latest in internet technology. It presents the internet in a more physical landscape by merging tools such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality. As such, the Metaverse blurs the lines between the ‘real world’ and the ‘virtual world’, creating a digital equivalent of our space. This all sounds very intangible and flimsy. That’s why we thought it best to explain the composition of the Metaverse with a few key examples:
If you had a smartphone in 2017, you probably played Pokemon Go. Beyond being a modern take on the nostalgia of the franchise, Pokemon Go is a perfect example of the metaverse. It presents a digital landscape which users can interact with by implementing augmented reality tools. Essentially, it brings Pokemon into the ‘real world’. What’s more, businesses were able to advertise via the Pokemon Go digital platform. In fact, your local Pokestop was probably a sponsored advert for Starbucks, with 12,000 of these franchised spots popping up across the USA alone. The coffee chain even promoted a Pokemon Go Frappuccino as part of their broader marketing strategy, thereby giving gamers an even greater incentive to visit store, spin their Pokestops, and drink a themed cold beverage. This is an instance of businesses utilising virtual landscapes to market themselves, essentially buying up virtual real estate that users of the app could encounter.
The established fashion brand has ventured into the Metaverse recently by creating the Gucci Vault Land in the broader Sandbox Metaverse, a digital world wherein users can navigate the landscape to learn about the history of the brand. Furthermore, users can purchase Gucci NFT’s (non-fungible tokens), which are virtual Gucci-branded items, using real money or Cryptocurrencies. Akin to tangible, physical items, these Gucci NFT’s are exclusive and limited edition, valuable and tradeable. Purchasers can adorn their avatars with these luxury items, creating a virtual representation of themselves that exists within the Metaverse. This makes the Metaverse extremely lucrative, as users are enabled and encouraged to produce avatars that represent the ‘ideal’ version of themselves, playing on aspirations and insecurities to sell avatar upgrades, limited edition collectible items, NFT’s and experiences. It’s marketing gold.
The main companies making headway in the Metaverse are Google, Meta, and Microsoft. Each of these businesses has huge reach and financial capability to create waves in the digital world, putting them at the forefront of innovation. Google has already invested over £39 million in Metaverse projects. Similarly, Facebook has rebranded to ‘Meta’ to put even more onus on the idea of the Metaverse. Meta has even created Horizon, a digital space where users can simulate workplace environments for remote working employees, experience concerts via VR headsets, and interact with other avatars in this pseudo-social media universe.
A few years ago, mentioning ‘the metaverse’ meant very little to the average consumer. It was a niche marketing term that attracted very little search volume. In fact, according to Google Trends, January 2019 saw 12,100 searches for the term. However, just four years later in January 2023, the term achieved 1,860,000 searches. That’s an increase in search volume of over 15,000%. The Metaverse is no longer a little-known concept, but a mainstream topic of conversation, especially in the realm of marketing.
Metaverse real estate marketing is already on the rise. In fact, properties across the digital landscape are already reaching values of up to €2.49 million. A sharp rise in the uptake of Metaverse real estate has even led to the formation of virtual property managers and estate agents such as those at Metaverse Property who now sell and rent plots to budding investors looking to boost their Metaverse credentials, open a Metaverse storefront, or make a profit. What is particularly interesting about virtual real estate marketing strategies is its similarity to ‘real world’ real estate practices. With many prospective Metaverse investors remaining dubious about the future of the virtual real estate values – largely as a result of drastic Cryptocurrency value fluctuations – many Metaverse property companies are reliant on the ‘real world’ property market’s stability to assure investors that their purchase is a sensible one. That’s why many Metaverse property adverts focus on aspects that parallel their tangible equivalents. This includes proximity to networks, capacity to act as a growing family home, and even access to leisure facilities. The Metaverse is still in its infancy, requiring comparison with tangible assets as a crutch on which to base its value.
Merging e-commerce and the revival of the high street, the Metaverse will be able to market products and promote brands via virtual storefronts. By combining the experience of in-person shopping, try-ons and tangible customer service, the new-age storefront will provide customers with the best of both worlds when purchasing goods. This isn’t just in relation to the purchase of NFT’s. Many brands are choosing to market their actual ‘real world’ goods via these virtual platforms. Automobile dealerships could keep limited stock on hand of particular vehicles and use spatial computing, specifically the AR cloud, to seemingly change interior and exterior attributes digitally in real time to showcase more options. Beauty retailers could ‘make over’ your avatar or provide access to exclusive filters that show you what products would look like on your face shape and skin tone. We’ve already started to see the emergence of this via digital foundation matching, hair colour changing filters and masterclasses. Any storefront can benefit from an AI concierge to aid consumers as they choose what to buy. These virtual assistants are able to sell NFT’s or provide the means to order more tangible items. The possibilities are endless.
Technology as advanced as the Metaverse can be an intimidating prospect, especially for those in marketing. The idea of having to learn yet another strategy to reach an audience is exciting and daunting. But it’s nothing we haven’t done before! Just as marketers have evolved from newspapers, magazines and billboards, to telephone marketing, to SEO and digital advertising, we will adapt to integrate the Metaverse into our broader marketing plans. The trick is to keep up to date with these advancements and marketing trends of the future. That’s why DGT has started the Marketing For The Future blog series. Every month, we’ll be doing a deep-dive into the latest advancements in marketing. We’ll cover everything from AI copywriting to conversational marketing and the power of voice search.
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Posted by Jenna C on Tuesday 6th June 2023