Joining the metaverse and the real world as a new home of experience

As part of The Drum’s deep experiential marketing immersion, Dentsu X’s Sanjay Nazerali reflects on how the virtual and real world could come together for a unique and better experience than either.

The metavers as a term has been with us for almost 30 years, since Neil Stephenson coined it in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, which described a kind of successor to RV on the Internet. As the Internet evolves into a more immersive space, could we be closer to Stephenson’s vision?

Mark Zuckerberg bet. In August, he talked about his vision of a metaverse as part of Facebook’s call for profits, while according to the report, the company has 10,000 people working on virtual and augmented reality projects that could turn -se in elements of this. He has also introduced Horizon Workrooms, a virtual reality version of a collaborative workspace where my colleagues ’mini avatars sit around virtual tables while they work.

While many of us may feel that this view of the future of work still bears some resemblance to science fiction, it is important to remember the words of another writer, William Gibson: “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet. “

Because in a way, the metaverse is already here. Some gamers eager for games like Fortnite and Roblox must feel that they already live in a virtual world, as many of their interactions and much of their social and economic activity take place within an artificial universe. Fortnite is the most popular game, but Roblox is the most innovative with its thriving ecosystem of creators and designers working independently of the platform.

Although this type of environment is still very niche, the important thing to remember is that digital culture almost always expands its appeal over time. This is already happening in games. The ESI (Entertainment Software Association) reports in its 2021 Essential Facts report that the average age of an American player is now 31, while 42% are over 35.

It won’t be long before “metaverse” elements, such as game economies and social interaction, move into new types of areas. Think of the ease with which most of us adapted to working, socializing, and even exercising together remotely during lockouts; being with people, but in different places, can soon seem very normal.

The success factor here is not how to create hybrid experiences online and offline. Most brands and publishing properties have already done so. Rather, it’s like creating them into a unique and perfect experience that is better than online or offline. There are two great examples in the UK in which line and connection have been perfectly orchestrated with each other: the Edinburgh Festival and the Frieze Art Fair. In both cases, the starting point is how to improve the experience, how to delight and attract people. Only then do interesting tools come into play.

In this link between online and offline, in person and virtual, there is an unprecedented potential for creating experiences. A recent partnership saw Burberry produce limited-edition characters and branded accessories for the cult game Blankos Block Party, through the Burberry TB Summer Monogram collection, selling them as “NFTs” (certificates protected by blockchains ) for between $ 25 and $ 300, up to a total drop value of $ 400,000. Burberry linked online and offline by using QR codes in ads and street art, which would take players directly to the game and the store. It was a unique experience, delivered multidimensional.

Moving away from games, we can also see this perfect connectivity that leads to deep experiences in music, once people have become accustomed to seeing music in more immersive ways, for example with virtual reality headsets.

Imagine if someone in the pub told me about a concert he went to and I can use my phone right away to see what it was like in 3D, change angles, see what other friends were there, what they thought of it, and even buy tickets for the next show?

Again, we are already seeing the first building blocks appear, creating seamless multichannel experiences. The band Easy Life, signed to Island Records, recently performed a concert at Fortnite in a replica of the specially built O2 arena. Fans could explore the venue before the concert, getting a version of the kind of anticipation you would get before a “real” concert.

We probably also see experiences go from digital to physical. Just as Netflix has created a Bridgerton live experience with Secret Cinema, we also expect some games to be more multidimensional, mixing “metaverse” with “universe”. Remember that Disney created theme parks and amusement parks around its cultural property and later created movie franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean around two of its amusement parks.

As we enter a more immersive digital world, we expect these types of transitions between channels to become even more common and create magical experiences. Brands and agencies that can authentically navigate the complex ecosystem of games and metaverses with truly relevant and inclusive content and experiential moments will be the ones that will feed into the future.

Sanjay Nazerali is a global customer and brand president at Dentsu X.

From festivals to commercial installations to inescapable activations, we examine the avenues open to marketers to reach consumers who enjoy their new freedom at The Drum’s Experimental Deep Dive.

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