What is a metaverse?

As more of the digital space becomes deeply cognisant of online identities and the various ways it will be managed post cookies, a new digital paradigm emerges, the metaverse. While it’s not completely defined today, the metaverse is taking shape to be the amalgamation of the physical world and various digital experiences where people can work, play, learn and most importantly to us: shop and consume.

We believe that the idea of being “inside” the internet instead of accessing it through devices will redefine how marketers understand how the consumer journey flows. This is especially true for anyone looking to build relationships with consumers that will be native to metaverse experiences tech companies and videogames are building right at this moment.

In fact, by now we are all well acquainted with the Facebook parent company re-brand, Meta. Part of this re-brand is driven by their belief that this persistent virtual world is the successor to the mobile-first digital landscape of the past few years. Other organisations are also taking steps to champion metaverse concepts such as with Microsoft Teams with its upcoming avatars for video calls, Google/YouTube’s VTubers movement or Gucci celebrating their 100th birthday digitally in Roblox.

What does a metaverse mean for advertising?

The metaverse represents the new frontier of interactions online and the way consumers behave in this shared digital world is a new challenge for marketers to overcome. We expect new social norms and non-verbal cues to inevitably develop as we learn to behave as digital avatars. Also, we may learn that the way people act and what their preferences are in the metaverse are different to how they would behave and what they shop for in real life.

The metaverse is emerging as the next marketing channel, presenting multitudes of opportunities for brands to participate. New ad formats have now become available, including in-universe billboards, live flagship events such as an Arianda Grande concert in game for Fortnite and shopping experiences such as virtual fashion items for your avatar. Now we are seeing the next step of virtual assistants and chat AIs that have virtual representations and the ability to have one to one conversations with customers, and to the culturally relevant such as the BLM movement finding its place in 2K basketball videogames.

The metaverse will also present challenges that are similar to the online social revolution. We can expect this new frontier to develop its own walled garden like behaviours that as marketers we will need to keep abreast of and evaluate as the state of play evolves.

These are just a few examples of the developing implications of the metaverse but all signal that it will be complex to navigate. While it is still a long way before we start experiencing life in a seamless metaverse, brands and businesses should prepare for this now and understand the role they would like to play as it will have massive implications to society and consumer behaviour.

For more information on the future challenges and opportunities facing the digital world, reach out to [email protected].