What’s the next big thing? It’s hard to say a lot of time, otherwise, we’d all be rich. Cryptocurrency is still a toss up, artificial intelligence has been on the cusp for years, and then there’s the Metaverse that keeps getting thrown around. Is it going to be the next big thing — and will it be because we all asked for it, or because we were told so?
Companies are always competing to get in front of your eyes in digital spaces. Google (Alphabet) and Facebook (Meta) are two of the largest sources of information on the web. While most people think of them as technology giants, in reality, they are Ad Agencies. Roughly 80% of Alphabet's revenue and 98% of Meta's comes from advertising. The next time you are online, give some thought to the fact that the companies driving new technology are also the ones selling it.
Speaking of digital spaces, the more time we spend there, the more our time, attention, and influence can be monetized. Well, what if there was a brand new place? An all-digital playground where you are always connected because everything you say, look at, and do is tracked in an endless digital landscape.
Enter: The Metaverse.
What is the Metaverse?
In short, the Metaverse is Virtual Reality (VR). To be clear, that oversimplifies it quite a bit. Think of the movie Ready Player One — if you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer (it’s quite the nostalgia-fest).
To clear things up, the Metaverse is not the same as the multiverse. A multiverse consists of multiple universes that become connected (think of superhero movies to keep the analogy going).
The Metaverse, on the other hand, is a broad term for all of the digital spaces that are connected within a virtual reality. You have probably heard or assumed that the Metaverse is owned by Meta (Facebook), but that’s not true. However, you can see now why they picked the name.
Facebook is not the first to venture into the Metaverse either. Before them, there was a “game” called Second Life that launched in 2003 which allowed users to create a digital version of themselves and have a separate but also connected digital life (it still has active users to this day).
Even the internet as we know it is already part of the Metaverse. The key difference with the next generation of the Metaverse is the life-like aspect achieved through VR where you see a digitally rendered world right in front of you as if you were really there. This differs from Augmented Reality (AR) in which digital components are overlaid onto the real world. Think of Google Glass from 2013 (are you seeing a trend?).
The way that Meta will attempt to bring you into the Metaverse is through their VR goggles and hardware by the name of Oculus, a company that Facebook acquired in 2014. Currently, the gear itself is less bulky than what you might imagine, but until batteries and internet speeds increase across the board, you can still expect to have a wire connecting you to the nearest computer and/or outlet.
How does Facebook fit in?
Behind the idea of the Metaverse is a belief that people will naturally migrate to virtual places to gather, mingle, and connect. That’s the gamble at least with Meta having invested more than $36 billion to date. If it pays off, there is almost no limit to what kind of activities and spaces can be created in the Metaverse. It is almost too vast to imagine.
However, Facebook has an issue. After years of massive growth, they have plateaued. Their user base is starting to decline. They reached a saturation point where pretty much everyone who is going to use their product does. It can, really, only go down from here.
The second issue is that the “first ones in” will have the most power to shape what the Metaverse looks like and how it is implemented. If Meta can have the inside track, this puts them in the driver's seat with more people using their solutions than any other competitors. But does this mean people will actually use it? That’s the trillion-dollar question.
While companies continue to build the infrastructure, software, and hardware that is needed to bring the Metaverse to life, that brings us back to marketing. As of now, it has been a mixed bag of success as brands have dipped their toes in to appeal to early adopters.
What does that mean for your marketing today?
This whole Metaverse idea sounds very sci-fi, a little scary, and pretty cool all at the same time. One thing to understand is that it is still more of a concept/theory than reality. The software and hardware are still in the realm of R&D with only small bits hitting the market. So, you likely have another year or two to get your head around it before it begins to enter the mainstream at a more noticeable rate.
But as with any emerging opportunities, remember to take an agnostic approach. Don’t limit yourself — always be open to exploring and experimenting with new opportunities. Good marketing meets your audience where they are. Technologies will come and go, so this may change over time and it’s up to you to find out where they are and how they communicate.
Take that thought and reflect on the present day — not just an exciting future. Are you being flexible about changing the nature of marketing this quarter? The world is changing every day — did you know that Tik Tok had more visits than Google in 2021?
We recently helped our client, Envoy B2B, tell their stories about how they're helping connect customers and brands through new technologies like 3D virtual modeling and interactive AR showrooms featured on Outside for Wolverine Worldwide.
Overall, we believe that a true strategic marketing strategy is a mix of mediums to build a relationship with your audience over multiple touchpoints.
As the saying goes, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket!