Digital Marketing in the Metaverse
The term “metaverse” isn't new, it was coined in the 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash and is now being used to describe a similar concept which is under development online and in the virtual world. The concept is very new though – an Ipsos poll of Americans found that while 38% of respondents reported being familiar with the term only 16% could correctly define it.
In a way, the metaverse builds on the Internet of Things where physical items are linked to the internet, and to each other (think smart homes or app-controlled heating systems) by building a virtual world in which people can participate, socialise, purchase and even learn, work or earn money from a side business. Actions taken using technology will have real-world consequences, such as turning your lights on while you're out, or purchasing physical items in a virtual store.
As the metaverse is still a developing concept it is hard to say exactly how it will function in 5 – 10 year’s time, just as conversations about what the internet would be in its inception could hardly have predicted how far-reaching the world wide web is in our daily lives. If the Covid pandemic had hit 10 or 15 years earlier we would not have had much of the technology we relied on to keep connected and stay working during lockdowns, so we cannot underestimate the speed at which technology transforms the way we live.
Currently, the metaverse (or at least the concept of it) is a digital space that exists alongside the real world and links to it in various ways – a concert could be played live, with a metaverse version that fans from other countries could attend with the ability to purchase merchandise, even meet the band and chat to other concertgoers. This goes further than streaming to become an immersive experience. Purchasing a band t-shirt in the metaverse could give you a physical item, as well as an item of clothing your metaversal avatar could wear.
As with most new technologies, it is the younger generations who are embracing the novelty of the metaverse and who will shape the direction it will take – 40% of Gen Z and millennial shoppers surveyed by Obsess said they would purchase (digital or physical) items in the metaverse and 75% of Gen Zers have already purchased digital items within video games. They believe the metaverse will be a virtual, interconnected space where people can spend time, shop, socialise, have new experiences and even work – will people expect to interact with a paid shop assistant in a metaverse store as they would in real life?
Marketing in the metaverse is something that is starting to take shape. While there is the opportunity for print and billboard ads to go virtual, this time appearing on digital real estate in metaverse stores and spaces, location based marketing (such as push adverts to your phone when you check in at a location) will also be part of the metaverse experience – your virtual presence in a particular space could be used to target further adverts based on your interests.
Metaverse marketing is definitely something that consumer brands will benefit from, and to a certain extent B2B companies. B2B companies are already marketing to their business customers in the same way that B2C companies do, so it follows that with the expansion of the metaverse, and the presence of more people within it, that marketing styles will converge and become a lot more fluid.
We can think of the metaverse as an alternative reality that is linked to our own. In the metaverse we will exist more wholly online as well as in real life, with crossover between the two worlds in terms of advertising, marketing, purchasing and owning products. Some of us may even end up working mainly within the metaverse as demand for new services drives the evolution of the concept forward.
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