The metaverse has been brewing underground for years, but it became the subject of popular discussions when Mark Zuckerberg announced the name change of Facebook to Meta in October 2021. Since then, everyone has been asking the same questions; what is the metaverse, what do you buy/sell in the metaverse, why will anyone pay real money for products/services in the metaverse, etc.
At this early stage, stakeholders in different industries are trying to understand the metaverse, and how it will impact their industries. Some of the industries already ahead are the gaming industry, fashion industry, and content creators and artists. But eCommerce stakeholders and digital marketers are not left behind. They are also asking the right questions like how will the metaverse impact eCommerce, and what will digital marketing look like in the metaverse.
What is the Metaverse?
You probably want to understand what the Metaverse is all about before we talk about digital marketing in the metaverse, but your guess is as good as ours. However, here’s what you should know; the metaverse is an immersive 3D spatial digital world that extends beyond the current internet possibilities. If you have watched the movie Ready Player One, you will have a good idea of what to expect, although it may never become that intense.
According to Zuckerberg, each person in the metaverse will use an avatar to represent themself, and this avatar will interact with other avatars and engage in activities such as gaming, schooling, virtual meetings, and fashion modeling. We are already hearing stories of music concerts, fashion events, and weddings in the metaverse.
The metaverse is not one digital platform where everyone meets, rather it is small chunks of immersive digital spaces across the internet. And we have examples such as Roblox and Fortnite already creating the metaverse experience. As the metaverse develops, we will get a better understanding of what it is.
Why Digital Marketers Need To Acquaint Themselves With The Metaverse
The NFT buzz kicked off as we entered 2021, with NFT arts selling for as high as $6 million, which shows that buyers are willing and ready to pay for digital collectibles. More recently, in January this year, Justin Bieber bought a Bored Ape Yacht Club art for about $1.4 million. While some are still trying to understand what NFT is all about, metaverse enthusiasts claim that NFT is only scratching the surface of the metaverse. Big fashion brands such as Nike and Gucci have found their way into the metaverse creating and selling digital fashion items such as the Gucci Virtual 25. All these go to show that there’s thriving consumer culture in the metaverse, and that’s all a digital marketer needs to see its numerous marketing opportunities.
You will see why buyers are willing to pay for digital collectibles despite their “unrealness” when you understand that millennials and Gen Z’s are part of the consumer population; the people who grew up on technology and the internet. In that sense, if you want to target Gen Z and millennials with your marketing campaigns, you have to consider the metaverse, especially now that marketing in the metaverse is relatively new. Coming in early will give you an edge to build a solid relationship with metaverse consumers.
One of the arguments the metaverse enthusiasts push is that there’s no limitation to what people can do in the metaverse, well, they mean things that are digitally possible. Unlike digital marketing for the real world, which forces you to consider the laws of physics and whatnot, you can stretch your creativity beyond that in the metaverse. For example, Gucci replicated its Florence garden in the metaverse, but instead of having rooms with ceilings, the rooms in the Gucci metaverse garden extend into the sky and are surrounded by forests.
Influencer Marketing But With Virtual Influencers
Influencer marketing as we know it is changing with the introduction of digital humans who are influencers. We already have 150 virtual influencers. Miquela is a digital human with over three million followers on Instagram (@lilmiquela), and she has worked with brands such as Prada and Calvin Klein. Some brands are launching their own virtual influencer; for example, Puma launched Maya for its South East Asia campaigns. And some brands are creating avatars of real people to use as virtual influencers; for example, Burberry used a digital doppelgänger of the supermodel, Naomi Campbell, in its TB summer monogram collections.
Influencer marketing with digital humans might become mainstream in the metaverse.
Digital Campfires Over Large Social Media Platforms
The era of hundreds of millions up to billions of active users on social media platforms which allows digital marketers to target thousands to millions of consumers at once might be coming to an end. Gen Z’ers prefer to have only a small circle of friends and like-minded people in their social media cubicle or digital campfire as Harvard called it. Millennials are also not left out in this switch in preference. The driving force of this change is the need for privacy and intimacy. As a result, young people are choosing platforms such as Discord and Roblox over large digital spaces such as Facebook and Instagram.
Digital marketers who still want to keep to their old ways will find this switch challenging because of how hard it has become and will continue to be to reach their target audiences. As a marketer, you should learn to adapt to trends and therefore, move to digital campfires to connect with your target audience. The digital campfires also make it easier to build trust with consumers since they carry an ambiance of intimacy.
The Metaverse Is Likely to Introduce Sensory Advertising
Nobody watches or listens to ads anymore, and young people often go as far as reporting ads to avoid seeing them another time; 84% of smartphone users skip ads on the go. Besides the repetitiveness and “salesy-ness” of advertisements, consumers find them to be boring, unimpressive and lacking intrigue. Having to watch or skip an ad every few minutes when connected to the internet is also a big part of the problem. Yet, some enthusiasts believe that the verse can solve the lack of interest in engaging ads.
Most of the ads today are made for the eyes and ears, but it is possible in the future that ads will appeal to the five senses using haptic technology. Using haptic technology to create ads will allow the ads to stimulate an immersive social presence which will engage the sense organs of the target audience, thereby making ads more enjoyable.