The term “metaverse” sounds futuristic, but it’s being built today. And while the concept of “the metaverse” is still evolving, marketing opportunities in the metaverse already exist. Learn more about what the emerging metaverse is and what it means for the future of branding and marketing.
What Is the Metaverse?
The term metaverse means different things to different people, but generally it’s used to describe a virtual reality space where users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. Imagine a collective virtual shared space where the physical world and simulations converge.
The concept of the metaverse includes multiple elements:
- Virtual Reality (VR): In the metaverse, users can use VR to immerse themselves in a digital environment.
- Augmented Reality (AR): The metaverse can also include AR elements, where digital elements are added to a user’s real-world environment.
- 3D Digital World: In the metaverse, environments are typically represented in 3D, and users can explore and interact with these environments.
- Interactivity: The metaverse is not just a static digital space, it’s interactive. Users can create and manipulate digital objects in the metaverse.
- Persistence: In many visions of the metaverse, it is always running and persistently exists, regardless of whether individual users are logged in or not. It may evolve and change over time, much like the physical world.
- Economy: The metaverse can have its own economy, complete with commerce, trade, and even jobs that people can perform to earn a living.
How much is the metaverse growing?
- In 2021, Meta (formerly The Facebook Company) invested $10 billion into the metaverse.
- In 2022, the Metaverse Market value shot to $61.8 billion. It’s expected to increase to $426.9 billion within the following five years.
- The Metaverse Market (globally) expects a growth rate of 47.2% between 2022 and 2027.
To learn more about the metaverse, you can visit these helpful resources.
- The Metaverse is the Future of Digital Connection
- The Metaverse in 2040
- What Is the Metaverse, Exactly?
Marketing Opportunities Within the Metaverse
As a new way to interact with consumers, there are several options for marketing within the metaverse.
Metabranding aims to meet customers’ needs in a new way through brand design and community building within the metaverse.
Metabranding itself is still in flux, which means there is no specific methodology yet. For more information about metabranding, check out the following resource.
Another way to market within the metaverse is with digital collectibles. The primary form is the metaverse NFT (non-fungible token), which is a unique digital asset that can be bought or sold within the metaverse space. NFTs represent unique digital assets. They allow for the development of a digital economy — they can be bought, sold, or traded.
Your brand can create its own NFTs. They can represent in-game items, collectibles, and virtual real estate — they’re treated just the same as physical assets and let you monetize your digital content. For more information, visit the following resources.
- An Introduction to Metaverse NFTs
- How Brands Are Utilizing NFTs to Improve Their Marketing Campaigns
Visual search is an intriguing aspect of the metaverse. Why? The human brain is capable of processing visuals up to 60,000 times faster than text. Visual content just resonates in a different way, which is why branding your content with high-quality visuals matters.
Leverage AR navigation, virtual searches, and AR for your storefront. Consider using AR to show people what they’d look like in clothing or how furniture might fit in their space, and you have a new, unique way to promote and sell products that many brands have yet to take advantage of.
- Search in the Metaverse: Why Brands Should Optimize for Visual Search
- Marketing in the Metaverse: The Future of Search & Social
Augmented and virtual reality are both up-and-coming methods of marketing. Augmented reality uses real-world settings to place objects, colors, or other elements. Virtual reality creates completely virtual spaces, such as virtual storefronts.
VR users are, at the core, controlled by the system, while AR is controlled within the context of real spaces.
For marketers, both AR and VR have a place. Your brand can create immersive experiences, engage with augmented reality tools that let them see products in their spaces and more. As consumers become increasingly focused on quality experiences, harnessing AR/VR technology can provide an advantage. In fact, 61% of shoppers have been found to prefer retailers that offer AR over those who do not, and 72% plan to purchase items now that they hadn’t before simply because of AR.
- What’s the Difference Between AR and VR?
- Augmented Reality (AR) vs. Virtual Reality (VR) What’s the Difference?
- Marketing Using Virtual and Augmented Reality
Brands Currently Marketing Within the Metaverse
Several brands are currently marketing within the metaverse.
Coca-Cola has been involved with Web3 technology since 2021, when it was part of the Decentraland metaverse. At that time, it auctioned NFT collectibles. Other metaverse projects include its launch of Zero Sugar Byte in the metaverse. Coke created Coke-themed mini-games, letting people see new flavors in “Pixel Point,” a space they created within the video game Fortnite.
At the end of 2021, Nike launched “Nikeland” in Roblox, an online game platform. Users can invest in virtual Nike products, interact with celebrities, play games, and more within that space. More than 21 million people have accessed Nikeland.
Samsung is also in the metaverse. Its immersive area within the metaverse is called 837X and is modeled on the brand’s flagship educational space and showroom located in real-life New York City. Samsung focuses on sustainability on the platform, encouraging users to hunt for treasure, complete challenges, and get an exclusive NFT as a reward.
Virtual influencers are fictional characters that take on the role of influencers: people with a large audience and the ability to influence it. In the metaverse, virtual influencers are actually digital avatars. They can take the form of real people, be used in advertising, and more. Virtual influencers have some advantages over their human counterparts. They can work at any time of day or night, do anything they’re asked, and be prominent figures for a brand for years without aging or changing in any substantial physical way.
Examples of AI Influencers
There are several AI influencers who are already present in the metaverse.
- Lil Miquela, also known as Miquela Sousa. She works with Dior, Calvin Klein, and Prada. She’s Brazilian-American and has over 3.6 TikTok followers.
- Bermuda is one of the older AI influencers who made their appearance in 2016.
- Ai Angelica, who first appeared in 2019 and is operated by the alias Rogue Shadow.
- Ai Ailynn, a Thai influencer created by SIA Bangkok.
You can learn more about these virtual AI influencers through the following resources:
- Understanding The Role of AI and Virtual Influencers Today
- Discover the Top 12 Virtual Invlluencers for 2023 — Listed and Ranked!
How Are Brands Using AI Influencers for Marketing?
AI influencers help brands in several ways. For example, your brand could choose to work with an AI influencer to create personalized content for your audience. You can customize your AI influencer’s look to suit your target audience. Brands including Balmain, Prada, Samsung, and others have all used AI influencers to promote their products.
While there are advantages to using AI influencers — it’s easy to tailor your content and get more content quickly with AI — the practice does come with some risk. AI content, and by extension brands that use AI content, can be viewed as inauthentic.
Role of Blockchain, NFTs and Cryptocurrencies in Metaverse Marketing
Blockchain, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies all play a role in metaverse marketing. Remember that the metaverse, at the core, is a decentralized virtual economy. Cryptocurrencies allow brands and users to interact with decentralized funds in their virtual spaces. NFTs can represent virtual goods, digital art, virtual real estate, and other items. They’re sold, traded, and bought on blockchain-powered marketplaces.
For brands, NFTs are one of the perks of the virtual space. With NFTs, users showcase those items to others — that showcasing means that your brand’s presence becomes better known within the virtual world. As a marketing strategy, consider this “word of mouth” advertising similar to labels on a shirt or purse.
And, in addition to using NFTs, don’t forget that your brand can work with influencers and develop partnerships with contracts powered by the blockchain. They can automate payments based on the metrics you set, letting you sit back and watch as your marketing strategy unfolds and payments get sent accordingly.
Upcoming Metaverse Technologies to Monitor
For the most part, the technology you already have access to will continue to be implemented in the metaverse. If your brand hasn’t yet tried VR or AR tech, now is the time to get started. Why? AR and VR technology creates the ability to have multimodal interactions.
Your brand may also want to look into metaverse worlds — these are immersive applications that give you new ways to reach your audience in the real and virtual worlds. Additionally, don’t forget to invest some of your time and marketing budget into Web3 technology — it’s still in its early stages, but it may become a powerful force for marketers.
Potential Challenges Marketing within the Metaverse
There are all kinds of challenges you could run into with the metaverse. Remember, the metaverse is still new, so there will be kinks to work out.
The first issue with marketing in the metaverse comes down to technical issues. To access the metaverse, consumers often need the latest tech. That means purchasing high-end VR headsets or lenses, computers, and other products. Realistically, not all consumers have the money for these pieces of tech, so your ability to reach your preferred audience may be limited.
Authentic Connection with Target Audiences
Another issue with the metaverse is that it does create the possibility of limiting authenticity. Audience members may not think your brand is being authentic if you don’t have real people as spokespeople or if the world you build does nothing more than promote a product.
Establishing Valuable Digital Collectibles
Digital collectibles can promote your brand, but the true value of those collectibles can be hard to establish on a decentralized platform. Metaverse NFTs can be valuable and sought after, but using digital collectibles can be challenging. Make sure you understand the technical requirements and limitations (e.g., their lack of standardization) of digital collectibles before making major investment decisions.
New and Advanced Cybersecurity Risks
Perhaps one of the greatest issues in the metaverse is the risk of cybersecurity issues. Problems that can come up include:
- Digital impersonation
- Account takeover risks
- Data misuse and theft
- Social engineering attacks
- Compromised admin roles
To prepare to protect yourself against these issues, a strong security plan has to be in place. Companies need security support in the form of attack surface management, threat intelligence, penetration testing, and more. You need to know where the security risks are and have a mitigation strategy in place.
Look into these resources for more information:
- An Introduction to Cybersecurity Guide [Updated 2023]
- What Is Threat Intelligence?
- What Is Penetration Testing and How Does It Work?
- What Is Attack Surface Management?
Staying up to date in the fast-evolving metaverse environment is possible. Check out these resources for further insight into ways you can prepare and stay apprised of new information.
- The Next Digital Revolution: 2 Ways to Get Ready for the Future Internet
- 5 Ways to Get Metaverse-Ready Right Now
Ethical Considerations for Metaverse Marketing
Because the metaverse is a relatively new concept, even experts in the field are still learning about ethical issues within virtual environments. Generally speaking, however, most of the ethical issues for marketers targeting the metaverse are the same as those facing marketers operating in traditional channels.
Those considering marketing within the metaverse should try to anticipate any potential harm that could come to users by considering common and longstanding questions: Is the content appropriate for the audience who will see it? Does the content promote diversity and inclusion? Is the marketing honest and truthful?
Tips for Marketing in the Metaverse
Establish Clear Goals and Budgets
When you get started with marketing in the metaverse, your first priority is setting clear goals. Do you want to be in your own world in the metaverse? Will you have NFTs? What is your plan for reaching your audience?
You also need a budget. Statistica found that only 11% of companies don’t invest any of their marketing budgets in metaverse marketing and advertising. The majority of them (37%) spend 10 to 25% of their budgets on metaverse marketing, and only 2% spend more than 50% of their budgets on the metaverse.
Be Sure to Intermix Traditional Marketing Strategies With Metaverse Marketing
While it would be nice if everyone could be marketed to in the same place, that’s simply not reality. Generation Z is used to the metaverse and may be the most likely group to use it, but that leaves plenty of people out. Marketing at storefronts in real life may still be best for the aging boomer generation, turning to TikTok ads can be helpful for millennials, and using ads with streaming services helps reach those who don’t use computers at all, for example.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
The metaverse is new, so don’t be afraid to experiment with it. Consider creating NFTs, building your own branded world, and marketing to the people there. For some businesses, it might not be lucrative right now, or your target audience might not be using the metaverse much yet. However, getting to know the platforms now can help you be prepared when it’s time to bump up your efforts.
Test a Variety of Metaverse Platforms
Finally, test a variety of metaverse platforms. Here’s a list of platforms to know about in 2023 and beyond.
- Horizon Worlds
- The Sandbox
- Nvidia Omniverse
Each one of these can give you ideas for how to market yourself in the metaverse and provide opportunities for competitive research.
What is the origin of the term metaverse?
The term originates from a 1992 science-fiction novel called “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. It’s a combination of the words “meta” and “universe”.
Is the metaverse purely virtual, or does it include elements of the physical world?
The interesting part about the metaverse is that it can combine parts of the real world and the virtual world. Augmented reality features are the strongest example of how digital assets can be combined with the real world to show people how products might work for them.
What kind of devices or technology do I need to access and market within the metaverse?
You can’t access the metaverse through the traditional internet. You will need virtual reality/augmented reality devices to join. Virtual reality headsets and devices such as the Oculus or Google Cardboard are good examples of this kind of tech.
How do transactions work in the metaverse? Can I use real-world currency?
Some metaverse implementations use NFTs or cryptocurrencies. You can convert real money to cryptocurrencies through your own virtual wallets and blockchain-based crypto exchanges.
Can I create my own space or property in the metaverse?
Yes. When you create your own space it’s called “virtual real estate.” That virtual real estate receives its own digital signature, so you can show that it exclusively belongs to your company.