When I first heard about “the metaverse” my mind immediately flashed to The Office episode where Dwight is playing the online role-playing game, Second Life. In the episode, Dwight says “my life was so great that I literally wanted a second one.”
Insert Jim Halpert smirk here (but really who can afford it?)
That The Office episode aired in 2007 when Second Life was trying to gain popularity, however, along with many technological setbacks, I truly don’t believe our society was ready to live life online.
Several weeks ago, Facebook announced that they would be changing their company name to “Meta” which would support their new mission of investing into the metaverse. When the news broke, the term “metaverse,” was new to many Americans and led many to wonder what this new age of the internet would look like, and for many brands, how their digital marketing strategy would fit in the “new world.”
Now in 2021, with a global pandemic forcing us to live virtually, the rise of cryptocurrency and NFTs, and social media being a powerhouse influence on our culture, the timing finally feels right for this new digital world. Although we don’t have enough information to say exactly how and when brands will be able to advertise, we can predict some current digital marketing principles to hold true.
What is the Metaverse?
The term “metaverse” was originally used in Snow Crash which is a 1992 science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson that describes a world with lifelike avatars who interact and engage in virtual reality.
At this point, it’s hard to say what exactly the metaverse is or what it will become because it does not fully exist yet. What we do know is this “new age of the internet” will be designed to blend aspects of digital technologies, cryptocurrencies, virtual reality, social media and live-streaming.
Mark Zuckerberg defined the metaverse “as a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces. You can kind of think about this as an embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at. We believe that this is going to be the successor to the mobile internet.”
You know when Zuckerberg gets involved there will be an opportunity for brands to purchase advertising space. Although we don’t know the exact format, we can make predictions based on current digital trends, including advertising becoming a fully immersive experience.
Digital Marketing in the Metaverse
I’m predicting that in the metaverse, there will be endless opportunities for brands to purchase product placements that are dynamic to an individual user. Imagine if you could change billboard creative dynamically to appeal to a specific individual every time a different person walked by. In the metaverse that could be possible.
Additionally, special events, concerts, attractions may only be available to attend in the metaverse. This would leave additional opportunities for brands to purchase sponsorships and know exactly the users who attended the event and interacted with their brand. Moreover, this new digital world will provide endless amounts of data that brands will be able to use in the real world.
Zuckerberg thinks we are still 5-10 years away before key features of the metaverse will become mainstream, however, he noted that many components of the future metaverse are already at play. This means your brand should start thinking about how your digital advertising strategy can adapt now so the transition to advertising on the metaverse is smoother and quicker, pushing you to the top and leaving the competition stuck in the real world.
Five Principles To Implement Into Your Digital Advertising Strategy Today
- Focus on brand/customer relationships: Younger consumers want to engage and buy from brands with which they have positive experiences. Whether your brand is going to provide entertainment by making users laugh or value through educational content, it’s important you find your niche and build a relationship with your target audience.
- Continue to invest in a strong digital presence: If your brand doesn’t have an online presence through some variation of social media, website, blog, etc then the time is now. Additionally, make sure you are investing in digital advertising. Historical digital advertising data on current available platforms will help your business grow when new platforms become available.
- Have an early adopter mindset: This one can be tough because being an early adopter means taking a risk and jumping into something new. Remember, you can be an early adopter by just dipping your toes into the water, you don’t have to dive in face first. An example of this would be a brand testing out new social platforms organically before paying for ads. (Cough, cough… I’m highly advocating brands to try organic TikTok right now. The reach is insane.)
- Capitalize on Customer Reviews & Testimonials: Your biggest brand ambassadors can also be a powerful tool in your digital marketing ecosystem. According to Qualtrics, 91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Make sure you’re asking your customers to leave reviews and, better yet, provide testimonials to feature in your ads and landing pages. This type of content can be transformed into powerful digital ads for any platform today as well in the future.
- Take Advantage of Video Trends with Popular Content Creators: TikTok’s Creator Marketplace is the first of its kind as it allows brands and creators to connect on its platform and make content deals that were traditionally taking place off-platform. The Marketplace is a great resource for brands who may not have resources to make content or who want to hire a creator whose style is aligned with their product/audience. Within the last couple of years, these creators have acted more and more as influencers, and this is a trend we predict will continue. It’s extremely likely that similar creators will play a large role in developing the metaverse’s content.
Honorable Mention: Start thinking about cryptocurrency: Several large companies such as Starbucks, Dallas Mavericks, and PayPal have already started to accept cryptocurrency, meaning cryptocurrency will play a large role in the metaverse. A good way to get your company ahead of the curve and your competition is to start researching it as an alternative payment option.
We don’t know what the future holds or what exactly digital marketing will look like, however, that’s one of the reasons I love working in this industry. We’ll continue to adapt to new platforms and new advertising opportunities, however, the heart and soul of strong marketing principles and connecting with our audience will remain the same.