In this opinion piece, Dan Young, CEO of Pulse, explores what metaverse means to marketers.
It’s been almost 30 years since Neal Stephenson wrote about metaverse in his dystopian novel Snow Crash. It was a convergence of the physical and digital world in a persistent and shared online space.
Titles like Fortnite and Minecraft have been based on this concept, offering fans a place to hang out with friends, play and buy things. The virtual goods economy is now a US $ 50 billion market. It could also become a place where we go to work, which is becoming more and more attractive with Sydney, which is now in its sixth week of blockade.
No wonder great technology has joined the metaverse, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella used the term in their most recent earnings calls. Zuck participated though and announced a five-year plan for Facebook to become a metaverse company. He described it as “an embodied Internet that is inside, rather than just looking.”
Buy on the back
People sit back and realize when a billionaire company makes a commitment like this, but metavers is already a significant category with a selection of virtual worlds offering various levels of sophistication and completeness. They attract large audiences who buy virtual goods and experiences with their own currencies and digital economies.
Decentraland is one of these worlds. It has been described as a state-of-the-art social platform where people can acquire and control digital assets in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
This 3D virtual reality platform works with blockchain and is managed by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), which owns the most important assets and an important part of MANA, the currency of Decentraland. The property boom is real here, and prices for a single plot of land (a non-fungible witness or NFT) are rising from $ 20 to over $ 6,000.
Brands invest in this virtual world. Sotheby’s acquired a plot of land and then organized an auction of NFT artwork in Decentraland. Coca-Cola recently auctioned off NFT collectibles to commemorate International Friendship Day and BOSON, a blockchain protocol protocol, spent $ 700,000 on land to establish a mall.
Roblox is another world within the metaverse. Many of the games here don’t have a clear goal, because the point is simply to be present with your real-world friends. It is a virtual way of existing, spending time and consuming.
Roblox has a larger user community than Decentraland. With more than 40 million daily active users, it attracts the great interest of brands, artists and creators who want to take advantage of the Gen Z audience to invest freely in the platform. Users invested 1.9 billion US dollars (2.6 billion Australian dollars) in their Robux currency in 2020 in virtual goods, game credits and developer tools.
Gucci is one of the first major luxury brands to partner with Roblox. Fans can choose from a plethora of clothing and accessories to enhance their avatar, including a Gucci GG Marmont bag for 425 Robux. Brand integrations extend beyond digital goals, with the Gucci Garden experience, Roblox users could immerse themselves in an experience that celebrated their individuality and the creative vision of the fashion house.
Fortnite offers several brand integration opportunities. With 350 million users, it is one of the most popular metaverse worlds to play for brands. Fans can buy custom skins from high-profile labels like Nike, NFL and Marvel, or attend virtual gigs like Marshmello and Travis Scott. Araina Grande was the last performer to appear at a Fortnite event.
The digital economy of tomorrow
The metaversa is a new frontier for brand participation that will eventually become a completely alternative reality. In the novel Snow Crash, some humans chose the metavers over the real world by permanently connecting.
The metaverse may be a terrifying prospect, but it may be an inevitable destination for the digital economy as it offers enormous potential to improve access and create new markets. The number of users will increase as the technology matures and experiences improve. The mainstream will follow the younger audience and creators towards the metaverse, a now familiar path for the growth of social platforms.
Aspiring brands like Gucci and Nike will find it relatively easy to translate their resonance and social currency into the virtual world. Commodity, low-participation, and non-aspirational brands will be harder to convert to real-world value. These brands need to find ways to play a meaningful role in the culture or consider brand extensions and sponsorships.
Brands can treat the metaverse as a discreet sandbox where to experiment. At least for now. Eventually, it will generate its own native brands, some of which will transform into the real world and present a challenge to established logos. Wherever and for any brand that wants to appear in the metaverse, to win you will need combined strategies that connect virtual and physical points of contact.
The metaverse adds new meaning to the idea of integration and is a new place for brands to consider in their marketing mix.