Is Metaverse the Next Marketing Channel?

The Keyword Metaverse produces a sharp uptick of 5,35,00,000 results in Google search in December 2021. Metaverse, believed the new computing platform, is a unique and virtual environment where users are virtual avatars. It is a virtual world not just to play games you can hang out with your connections, shop, watch movies and concerts, the truly immersive experience created by augmented reality. People who use it are not mere spectators but active participants in the virtual world. It reminds us about “Second Life” and “Google Lively”. The personalized digital representation in the game through Metaverse attracted the age group of 13 to 35 years.

What is in it for marketers?

The gaming industry was the one to grasp this new opportunity and explore its potential. Metaverse is a new vector for marketers and advertisers to interact with the target crowd. Brands are experimenting to reach the millennials and Gen X through NFT and Immersive Experiences. Metaverse unfolds the opportunity for the brands to target premium customers who value innovation.

How about market communication to these target audiences?

Akin to In-game advertisements, In-world advertisements denote Out Of Home advertisements (OOH) but in the virtual world. They can create a stall to make the audience try/visualize the product and order offline. There may be the possibility of virtual billboards, product placements, Virtual Product Launches, Fashion Shows, Corporate communications, Market surveys, and feedback from the audience. Mercedes used Virtual Reality advertisement-360-degree video of its SL model in 2017. However, it required a smartphone, internet, and a Cardboard that cost 3 $ to experience this advertisement. It resulted in high customer engagement and a better feel of the product.

Many brands are in the race to enter this Metaverse. Fortnite and Roblox are platforms comparable to Metaverse that have been used by the brands for quite some time. Boeing has committed to designing its next version of aircraft through Metaverse. Skateboarding brand launched a virtual skatepark in Roblox where players can try new tricks and earn points to redeem in the virtual store to customize their avatar. A Few more in the line are Gucci Garden sin Roblox, Nike has created Nikeland in association with Roblox and Disney Metaverse. Travis Scott’s Astronomical concert was attended by more than 12.3 million concurrent players in Fortnite. It is an ample opportunity for the brands to target these fans with carefully planned ads and it is a better option for real-time concerts and ads in a physical environment. In-game items are the space for the brands to create and stock their brands (Product Placement) which will be chosen by the players when they look for outfits(Skin) and are new lucrative revenue streams for the supply side. However, the sponsor of a brand has to do the product placement again in the other platforms as each platform has its system and economies. Metaverse appears to overcome the interoperability issues of these platforms and provide seamless experience and engagement but needs to wait for the evolution happening in standards and platform economies.

Digital marketers must respond to these changing trends in the Metaverse and coup the targeting of millennials and Gen Z as they are avid users of Metaverse and AR. Can everyone afford to use Metaverse? The prerequisites are high-end computers, VR lenses, 5G implementation, and developing standards which are the hindrances that prevent mass marketing. As the Metaverse penetrates the market, AR headsets sales are estimated to soar high in the forthcoming years. Standards and Protocols, Reputation and Identity of the players, Data & Security, Currency Payments, Law and Jurisdiction and Ownership and property issues are yet to be incorporated as many players are entering this space.

Dr.K.G. Hemalatha
Professor & HOD
DSCE-MBA

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