The new normal era has brought in a fundamental change in all spheres of life. It has changed the way we interact not just with our family, friends and colleague but also with brands. The customer journey has experienced a shift, wherein remote shopping and reliance on online platforms not just for purchase but also for experiences has been increasing. Wherein in a pre-COVID world, experiential marketing was all that companies looked to achieve, now that same model has been flipped on the head in a pandemic accelerated digital world. The digital world in a post-pandemic era holds up new avenues for increasing customer engagement and the following research paper will elaborate further on this. The creation of metaverse, which is a combination of blockchain technology, virtual reality, and augmented reality, along with it the creation of digital assets will shape the new virtual world of Marketing. The article dives deep into metaverse marketing, metrics of measurement and challenges in the metaverse, or to put it succinctly brands with their digital twins is the future!
Metaverse, while the concept has been in the making for a while, through the likes of movies and books, Ready Player One, being a great example of the same, but now the fiction is very much real. The immersive virtual environment is all set to take hold of the user journey. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Users have been on the rise. The global market for the same has been forecasted to reach ~300 billion dollars by 2024. This trend hints at how social media, PR and digital marketing will be reshaped in the coming years as the customer journey has moved online.
While it can be commonly misunderstood that Metaverse, the digital space of our virtual avatars, is like a game that can be paused and played. But it’s not, metaverses do not pause when you leave them, nor do they end. They continue on indefinitely. They exist in real-time and all players have individual agency. It’s a fully functioning universe wherein the users can create, own, sell and invest. The users can surprisingly be also recognised and rewarded for the labour they put in these virtual universes. Different platforms work together in the metaverse which brings in flexibility. It also allows users to create content that other users can enjoy. Another important aspect is that the users can purchase digital assets and services to amplify their experience. Though this is not simply related to digital assets, users can also purchase physical items that can be shipped anywhere in the world. This sets the base for marketing 4.0.
Marketing in metaverse:
The possibility of buying not just physical but also digital assets, creation of content, avatars, and the value of the experience for the millennials points to the need to reimagine marketing. With this parallel virtual universe co-existing with the real one, brands have the ability to create experiences for their users that could be tied with real-world experiences and amplify what the brand already does in the physical world.
Brand Awareness through Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT):
An example of a brand leveraging it has been AB InBev’s beer brand Stella Artois creating a Non Fungible Token (NFT-a digital asset) of horses who could be traded, raced and bred by the users just like they would in the Kentucky Derby. Since Stella Artois sponsors a lot of sporting events in the physical world, this experience for their users in the virtual space resonated with the brand image.
While Stella Artois has dipped its feet in the metaverse marketing, RTFKT- a creator’s collective that is now a part of Nike Inc. is a brand that was built entirely on metaverse. They create virtual streetwear, sneaker designs and digital avatars. They allowed the users to forge their own NFTs to unique physical sneakers or extra items. They are one of the successful brands to having to merge the two worlds together while also creating a blueprint for other innovators and marketers. They look at consumers not just for the transactional nature but as creators that are active in this virtual ecosystem. On Similar lines, Gucci Opened a Gucci Garden on Roblox to release an exclusive pair of digital sneakers. The size of the online audience is set to increase exponentially and so is the demand for NFTs and digital collectables.
Virtual Advertising in Metaverse:
Metaverse also offers virtual advertising wherein company such as BidStack, a video game ad tec company, leveraged metaverse by transitioning from working off in real- world outdoor advertising to placing ads on virtual billboards. Though metaverses are experiential and users can interact with the content, the advertising hence can move from static to interactive installations.
There are brands and creators who are leveraging the first mover’s advantage in this space, wherein artists such as Lil Nas X held his concert in Roblox, a metaverse. Gucci Garden’s collaboration with Roblox for experience visits for their customers and the ability to buy digital editions of their exclusive items creates a unique customer experience and also shows that the company is aware of the changing consumer journey.
Digital Collectibles of one’s brand: An example of this is Dissrup, which works with industry-leading 3d Artists, digital fashion-leaders and the craftspeople in the physical world. They release digital collectables on a bi-weekly basis. These digital collectables are compatible with blockchain video games, the digital fashion wear is compatible with Zero10 ‘s phenomenal AR Dressing. This increases cross-platform visibility for the brand which was earlier limited to the physical world.
Collaborating with communities:
Each metaverse has its own format, for example, Roblox, the brands only generate traction when they partner with the members of the community that is well versed with the metaverse. They are the new ‘influencers’. As the trend shows in recent times, influencer marketing is being used by 86% of the advertisers, of whom 57% state that their performance exceeds brand created content. Hence this influencer marketing will take a new shape in the coming future.
A current example of a company acting as a bridge for influencers between the physical world and virtual world is a Post for Rent. The company has built a digital influencer HQ in Decentraland. The metaverse allows influencer collaboration as the avatars can interact with each other as their exist seemingly no virtual boundaries.
RETURN ON IMMERSION
Metaverse is essentially immersive technology at its peak, and this calls for a broader range of key performance indicators. Hence, this calls for a different metric measurement. As this environment wouldn’t be possible if it were not for VR Headsets, these Headsets along with them bring in the new metrics of measurement as it makes eye tracking possible. For starters, even when the users are stationary, their wider-field-of view will allow for a richer tracking of where these users attention is at. This era of allowing people to be digitally present in an alternative environment paves the way to create ‘sticky’ brand communities. This creates newer opportunities for marketers to create a powerful story around their respective brands. As Brand Metaverses develop more interactive, powerful and engaging content, the metric of measurement will also evolve to better understand the audience
The Headsets would have receptors that will help in the clear determination of when there would be cognitive overload for the user, what kind of emotions they would feel for different brand content.
The bio-sensors would help in tracking the hand and gesture movements and measure the extent to different experiences that brands create. Facial Tracking would be the new data gold that would be generated as people become more habitual to wearing HMDs and these tracked emotions could help brands understand their target users like never before.The following metrics could be possible
|Attribute||Potential Actions for measurement||Suggested Immersive Tech Metric|
|Eye Tracking||Direction of Gaze||Visual Attention Outcomes|
|Body & Head movement||Speed of movement , direction of movement, coverage of virtual brand environment, time spent in specific virtual Metaverses, number of independent visit to virtual zones||Zonal Dwell Time|
|Biometric Response||Cognitive Load, Thinking Activation and direction(eg- Neurable)||Immersive Presence|
|Holistic Virtual Experience||Weighted Combination of above metrics||Brand Presence Engagement|
|Object Interaction||Duration and Nature of Interaction with brand assets, sharing of brand assets with other actors in the virtual space, NFT acquisition and sharing||Virtual Object Engagement|
|Brand Co-Creation||Brand Space Unique visitors||BrandLiving Index|
Fig 1.6 Attribute and their metric, Source: Alex Gibson
CHALLENGES IN METAVERSE
Since these metaverses have some technical pre-requisites that need to be fulfilled, there are certain accessibility issues that it brings along with it. The kind of ubiquity that social media possesses, it will take time for metaverses to achieve that scale of acceptance and usage. As not everyone has access to headsets that ae essential to even experience this immersive reality, this by itself limits the potential of metaverse.
One of the major challenges with respect to metaverses is Data Privacy, as with new technology, comes the need for better security measures. This requires new methods of data privacy and protection when there was none to begin with. The possibility of various ways of gathering data , example bio sensors recording emotions would by itself generate reservations on behalf of the user.
The other challenge with respect to this virtual environment is that since these metaverses are free for all, brands need to be careful with respect where will their content be placed. Since users have even more agency in this virtual environment, there’s possibility of brand content being placed in effective way.
All in all, metaverses offer the opportunity to marketeers in a fundamentally new way. This digital twin could have the power and the possibility to change the way brands narrate their stories and users relate with them.
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) market size worldwide from 2016 to 2024, Statista.
- https://www.forbes.com/sites/cathyhackl/2021/06/18/stella-artois-gallops-into-the-metaverse-with-horse-racing-nfts/?sh=51a4485f7b8b, Stella Artois Gallops into HorseRacing NFTS, Cathy Hackl
- The Evolution of a Metaverse Brand: RTFKT’s CloneX Drops Today, Cathy Hackl
- https://blog.roblox.com/2021/05/gucci-garden-experience/, The Gucci Garden experience lands on Roblox
- https://dissrup.com/editorial/welcome-to-dissrup, Welcome to Dissrup
- https://influencermarketinghub.com/metaverse-marketing/, A deep dive into Metaverse Marketing, Geri Mileva
https://www.profgalloway.com/metaverse/, Metaverse, Scott Galloway