We’re already learning lessons from early adopters of metaverse marketing but some of the fundamentals remain the same; what do you want to achieve? Maybe you want to drive new business, establish your organisation as a thought leader or maybe you want to engender loyalty with existing customers. Fundamentally, consumers of your content have high expectations of cutting edge design when it comes to the metaverse. Innovation is key in creating experiences across multiple channels to market, from advertising to immersion within gaming, virtual events and shops.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens or unique digital tokens) will be the key to unlocking the metaverse. As mentioned in our previous article, they are a special type of traceable, blockchain-based token that are used as proof of ownership over digital items, such as music, art, or in-game goods like virtual property that users acquire. NFTs can be traded or collected as digital assets with an intrinsic value: they can serve as the deed to virtual property and give the owner exclusive access.
This NFT-controlled access could also include VIP access to real-life events and provide exclusive access to member-only content. Music stars are building their own digital worlds where their avatars live a glamorous life in luxurious surroundings, releasing new music and videos exclusively virtually. Extrapolate this out to the Corporate world, and it’s easy to envision how, for example, an engineering or software company could create a metaverse where avatars are using their products in relatable applications.
The main metaverse platforms are currently the likes of Minecraft and Roblox and large brands are investing time and money investigating which will be the best fit for their business. Direct-to-avatar sales of virtual goods are on the rise: Forever 21, for example, sells a digital beanie in Roblox for less than a dollar. In 2021, Gucci attracted nearly 20 million visitors within two weeks of launching a metaverse version on Roblox of its Gucci Garden and sold a virtual version of its iconic Dionysus bag for over $4,000 which is more than the price of the physical version in the real world.
Then there are activities in the metaverse which run alongside the physical world. As an example, Vans created an interactive skateboard park on Roblox where visitors can explore different sites with friends. By playing games, they can earn points which can be exchanged for virtual trainers and other virtual Vans merchandise plus the build of customised (virtual) skateboards.
Like online-to-offline sales conversions are familiar in today’s world, we can expect to see more metaverse-to-offline opportunities in the future, too. In Spring 2022, Mexican restaurant company Chipotle offered real-life burrito vouchers to Roblox players who visited its metaverse restaurant.
Independent developer and creative communities already active within the virtual platforms will be valuable to any organisation looking to leverage the opportunities in the metaverse. While companies will build their own virtual studios and create their own immersive world to represent their brand, right now we’re seeing brands insert themselves into existing platforms. We turn to Roblox again: NASCAR worked with the developers of Roblox’s Jailbreak to add a branded car for a limited event, resulting in a win for NASCAR and a win for Jailbreak in terms of exposure.
But be prepared: we’ve already seen how the intimacy, immediacy and impact of social media can sweep across the internet and this is likely to be tenfold in a real-time immersive metaverse. It’s wise to start out with a clear set of policies to establish behaviours around IP, data protection and visitor -especially child -safety let alone the customer experience and efficiency of the site. And consider how you can secure consent and source data to enhance consumer insights in a world without cookies.
Then there’s measurement: what does “success” look like in the metaverse? Familiar elements such as likes, shares, visitors and conversions remain but new types of engagement will add to the available data. For example, Deliveroo deployed virtual drivers to make virtual deliveries in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, including promo codes to activate in real life. Within the first hours, it logged three million in-game interactions with players.
As time progresses, innovation in new ways of using the metaverse will attract more adopters. We’re still learning what works and what doesn’t but we can be certain there will only be acceleration. As marketers, we need to keep abreast of new developments and the potential applications of the tools available. As it can be anything, the metaverse, it seems, has no limits and with that comes a lot of responsibility.