VR/AR, the Metaverse, and NFTs – What are they?
Think of augmented reality, virtual reality, and the metaverse as a flowchart. At the simplest level, we have augmented reality. Augmented reality adds a virtual element to real life. You’re probably most familiar with Pokėmon GO or Snapchat lenses. Virtual reality takes it one step further by immersing you in the virtual world. When thinking about virtual reality, think about Oculus or someone wearing a headset feeling as though they’re walking across a tightrope without leaving the floor of their living room. The metaverse is where virtual reality meets the real world or rather, the metaverse is the real world in virtual reality. The metaverse is The Truman Show but in virtual reality, a complete replica of real life, real events, but on a virtual TV set and not in real life. NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are most simply explained by relating them to fine art. Take the Mona Lisa for example, there’s only one. It’s unique. You can take pictures of the Mona Lisa when you visit the Louvre, you can buy replicas of the Mona Lisa, but there’s only one original copy of the painting itself. NFTs are the digital equivalent of the Mona Lisa painting.
Virtual Reality and Metaverse History
Virtual reality has been a concept in science fiction for decades – more recently with Ernest Cline’s 2011 book and 2018 movie Ready Player One depicting what might be the perfect virtual reality advertising scheme: immersing users in the virtual reality world with the prize being the virtual reality world itself.
Ever since, virtual reality has been on a steady climb for the past few years, with users more than doubling since 2017.
The term metaverse wasn’t used very often until around April 2021 when the virtual reality world started buzzing as metaverse funding and non-fungible tokens (NFT) started to take off.
What are companies doing about it?
You’re probably most familiar with what Facebook is doing about the metaverse. When Facebook bought Oculus back in 2014, we knew Facebook was set to change the way we connect and market once again. After recently rebranding as Meta, it became clear that another pivot in the way we connect and the market might not be too far away. Take holiday trends as an example: Facebook’s Oculus was the most popular app this holiday season. Even before Facebook, Roblox was leading the metaverse charge, valued at nearly $40 billion after going public in March 2021. Microsoft was soon to follow, acquiring Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion and establishing the “building blocks for the metaverse.” Both Google and Apple have been building metaverse technology and devices for years. The list is endless.
It’s no surprise that the big tech companies are investing in the metaverse. So are other brands: Disney, Gucci, NASCAR, Deloitte, and Hyundai. Snapchat even has augmented reality lenses as an ad format along with the Oculus app feed placement now available within Facebook. These options are making the bar of entry extremely low for metaverse marketing, with some even calling iCommerce (immersive commerce) the new eCommerce.
Metaverse Marketing Strategy
When Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Google invest billions into the metaverse: marketers should start planning ahead. While metaverse marketing is fairly new, here are a few things to consider when marketing in the metaverse.
Connection with Existing Marketing Strategy
Metaverse marketing should be a natural progression from the existing marketing strategy. Think of metaverse marketing as one step further from product placement in your target market’s favorite movie or the next step in influencer marketing.
Immersion is Key
Using Fortnite’s Marshmello concert and Lil Nas X’s Roblox concert as examples, creating an immersive virtual reality experience is critical. It goes beyond concerts: virtual billboards, immersive brand experiences, tours of sets, etc. the possibilities are endless when connecting existing advertising with metaverse marketing.
Use Engagement and Awareness as Your KPI
Lean into the community aspect of the metaverse, once the connection is made with existing marketing strategy and an immersive experience is created, focus on engagement and the ability to go viral as your main success metrics to start.
Metaverse Marketing Success Stories
- Fashion: Dimension Studio made $6.5 million in revenue from 2020-2021 from metaverse marketing for try-ons in the fashion industry
- Designer Brands: Gucci’s rare digital Roblox bag re-sold for $4,115, more than 20% higher than the retail price for the physical product itself
- Art: Louis Vuitton’s digital game sold NFT art for a record-breaking $69.3 million in March 2021.
What if I’m not selling fine-art NFTs?
Take metaverse marketing as an awareness play among the younger age demographic. For example, Vans launched a branded skatepark driving over 48 million users. Chipotle set up a virtual storefront. The list is endless. If you’re not selling NFTs, use the metaverse as a way to bring your brand to life.
Whether or not you choose to market in the metaverse, it’s clear the metaverse is here to stay and creates a new set of challenges and opportunities for each brand to seize.