It’s hard to avoid the metaverse. Perhaps it was when a future-forward colleague or client first wore Google Glasses. Maybe it was playing Pokémon Go. Or when Facebook acquired virtual reality (VR) headset developer Oculus in 2014. Or the renaming of Facebook Inc. to Meta Platforms Inc., finalized in December 2021.
Whatever that turnkey moment was for you, the door to the metaverse is opening. This blog post will look at what the metaverse is, how technologies like VR and augmented reality (AR) are currently being used, and perhaps how the metaverse will change how we market products and services.
What is the metaverse?
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the metaverse is a “virtual environment” that you can enter versus just looking at it on the screen. The Associated Press in this article explains it as “a world of endless, interconnected virtual communities where people can meet, work and play, using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps or other devices.”
Why should marketers care about the metaverse?
Because it’s already here.
A sometimes clunky and imperfect preview of the metaverse can be found in online game universes like Fortnight, Minecraft and Roblox.
Social media consultant Arik Hanson offers this fun, roving-reporter first look at activities available in the metaverse during February’s Big Game weekend. Hanson attended a Foo Fighters concert, set himself up with cryptocurrency Bitcoin, and experimented with virtual, social and brand activations.
In this must-read blog post on the metaverse Double Forte predicts, “More than experiencing entertainment and shopping, many also see an opportunity to increase personal relationships through socialization, wealth and productivity skills all through the metaverse.”
What can we expect from the metaverse?
As a Gen X mom of two teenagers, I can’t say that I’m exactly an expert in the metaverse. But I have seen momentous shifts occur in my career. Here are four predictions.
1. The pandemic has primed us for even earlier adoption of metaverse-like living
We now shop, work, play, bank, visit doctors, do video conference calls, go to therapy, exercise, attend music lessons and even go to school online. Just as there is flight simulation for pilots, there will be opportunities to provide more cost-effective training for new or rarely used skills.
2. Employment opportunities are evolving
Last summer, my daughter completed her first internship-worthy experience as a moderator for the online game Garry’s Mod. She relished in her role ensuring players had a positive experience, warning them when they didn’t follow the rules, eventually muting them for using foul language, and kicking them out after repeated warnings. This made me think of all the built-in roles the metaverse can offer. Just like in the real universe, there could be comparable positions in the metaverse who manage safety/security, schools, tourism (meta sherpas?), retail for you and your avatar (move over, Tamagotchi), entertainment and creation of experiences that are segmented by age or interest. We’ll need marketers and communicators to promote these experiences.
3. Content will become more critical than ever, and immersive content will have a whole new meaning
Brandpoint already caters to cryptocurrency clients. We can create and distribute multimedia content, including images, videos and infographics with animation. Brandpoint may evolve alongside the metaverse, distributing content for virtual products and services. Just think, a MAT Release could be the doorway to Oculus-ready images with 360-degree views or universes.
4. Wearable technology will evolve from glasses and watches to shoes, jackets and purses
The metaverse already lets us experience things through sight, touch and sound. Will technological advances eventually breach barriers to taste and smell?
Don’t lose sight of real life, though
Still, there are some things we lost during the pandemic that I don’t want the metaverse to replace: hugs, in-person time with loved ones, live music, cheering with the crowd during live sports, savoring new flavors when dining out, petting a Golden Retriever with puppy breath, or the feel of waves lapping on your feet and the sun on your face.
Sometimes simply being present to our surroundings, devices off, is better than the metaverse.