The Metaverse; What, Why, and How
What Exactly is the Metaverse?
Is the Metaverse a thing? A Place? A state of mind? The answer is yes. “The Metaverse” is one of those things that we say in different contexts, which defines its meaning. I think the Metaverse is all encompassing of the things we do in the virtual world. This can be in video games, mobile apps, VR, AR, and who knows what will come next. Most of us have been in the Metaverse but just didn’t call it that. For the millions of us that own an Oculus, we have been in the Metaverse. When I play Top Golf with friends on my Oculus, I am in the Metaverse. When my son is playing Fornite, he is in the Metaverse. When my other son is playing Roblox, he is in the Metaverse. When I use AR apps to simulate furniture placement, it’s in the Metaverse.
So we shouldn’t get hyped up over the term “Metaverse” because for now, it’s just a branding vehicle for all things virtual. Facebook (Meta) is just trying to own something that really isn’t ownable. It took me a while to understand and appreciate NFT’s but I think I get it now. I am not going to run into the Metaverse and buy any, but I get it. The same people that bought bitcoin early on are likely the same people buying NFT’s now. If you aren’t sure what an NFT is, it stands for Non-fungible token. These are digital items that are unique. They must be one of a kind to be non-fungible. They are purchased and managed using blockchain technology (which needs to be a separate post) so to ensure and guarantee its uniqueness. Most of what we hear about today is digital art but it could really be anything. I can see a world where every brand has their own collection of NFT’s as a way to build brand equity outside IRL. Just like with real art, NFT’s can be copied but there can only be one original. Check out the details on the Gucci Ghost below:
Coming back to the Metaverse, for now, just think of the Metaverse as anything that provides a digital experience. This can be a full immersive experience like on an Oculus, a 3D experience like Roblox or Minecraft, a PC game, or even a mobile game with specific characteristics like 3D immersive technology. From an advertising perspective, there are plenty of opportunities today. There are custom built experiences like American Eagle Outfitters created with Anzu inside Roblox to in game product placements to programmatically inserted ads. Check out the AEO Country Club Experience and an integrated Nike ad below. Both are in the Metaverse but at two different ends of the ad spectrum.
So why should you care? Should you engage now as a brand or should you wait and see? You should care because the Metaverse isn’t going away. It may change shape over time, just as the Internet has, but it will be around. If you haven’t ever tried VR, you need to if you want to fully appreciate what it has to offer. Computing power will continue to increase and this will just lead to better and better experiences. Money is flowing into this space from every direction so we should see exponential changes over the next 5 years. Meta (Facebook) alone has invested over $10 B into the Metaverse and some experts forecast that the Metaverse presents a Trillion dollar opportunity for brands.
Contrary to what some believe, the Metaverse isn’t just video games for the kids. There are applications for business, design, and sports just to name a few. Brands that jump in now will cement their positions and earn the business of their target audiences. Those that wait may feel like they are saving money but in the long run, they will have to play catch up and that will cost even more. My advice, if you aren’t sure what to do, dip your toes in with programmatic ads and measure the impact. If you see positive results, increase your budgets and engagements next year and the year after. Perhaps some day soon, we will be able to have this conversation in the Metaverse and share ideas in a virtual world that feels like real life. The truth is, we probably already can do this… Check out Anzu and let Cogent know if you would like to learn more. This is our preferred partner for advertisers and we can help you navigate this seemingly confusing universe.