The metaverse in marketing

The term ‘metaverse’ was created by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his novel, ‘Snow Crash.’ In the novel, the Metaverse is a hugely popular virtual word experienced in the first person by people equipped with augmented reality technology.

Over the past couple of years, the term has acquired a life of its own with gaming and tech industries breathing new life into the concept by creating multiplayer games such as, ‘Fortnite’, ‘Roblox’ etc. These games serve as precursors to a digital world that combines Stephenson’s fictional Metaverse with a real world that has become digitised during the pandemic.

The popularity of virtual spaces is growing thanks to the current limitations on real-world interactions. Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement about “bring[ing] the metaverse to life” is Facebook’s latest objective, and intensified the excitement about metaverses even more.

A marketer’s approach towards the metaverse should largely be one of experimentation. The concept is not only about consuming content, but also being right in the middle of it. As Zuckerberg explains, this form can be used to increase the potential for education. People from different parts of the world can be admitted to a good school program provided they have access to relevant technology.

Retail revolution — The value of virtual items is higher than ever before. The rise of cryptocurrencies and NFTs have strengthened the idea that there is value to content regardless of its physical existence.

The time people spend in virtual spaces has erased the boundaries between ‘real life’ and online. Virtual spaces have thus been given the license to be seen as marketing channels. For instance, Fortnite hosted a digital concert with Travis Scott that attracted more than 45 million viewers over five performances.

Roblox hosted a virtual concert experience with Lil Nas X that attracted more than 30 million viewers. Epic Games, the studio behind Fortnite, has announced that it has raised $1 billion in funding to support its vision of the Metaverse.

Immersive experiences — With the metaverse as the model, some brands have ventured into creating branded installations and pop-up events; things that consumers can interact with, in contrast to banner ads. Consumers enter interactive spaces and hence their emotional investment with a brand is likely to increase.

Thus, the metaverse can be used to create immersive engagement opportunities for a brand unlike other forms of passive engagement. For example Gucci held a virtual show called Gucci Garden on Roblox. The luxury fashion brand offered a series of themed rooms. Users could walk around in the room as mannequin-like avatars, interacting with various items and trying on digital clothing and accessories available for purchase.

The effect of the metaverse on influencer marketing — The metaverse will also reshape the landscape of social media. It will develop a whole new facet of interaction and communication.

Food influencers will be able to cook together and travel influencers will be able to share experiences. Sports influencers will have their fanbase in the crowd. Hence, most businesses should have a plan on how to be a part of this playground with no limits.

Ronn Torossian is CEO & Founder of 5WPR & one of America’s most notable PR executives. He is the Author of best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release.“