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The metaverse is already rewriting the rules of online marketing. Brands treading into this virtual world will find great opportunities alongside monumental challenges. Use this guide to help your brand build an authentic virtual presence in the world’s fastest-growing market.

Inside this article:

What Is the Metaverse?

The metaverse is a network of immersive digital worlds. People socialize, work, and play there, parallel to our physical reality. The metaverse revolves around digital identities, blockchain, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The metaverse presents new ideas of ownership, consumer behavior, and virtual economies.

The word metaverse starts with the prefix meta, Greek for “beyond,” meaning you can create and experience things beyond our current reality. The term verse refers to the universe. Metaverse refers to a new universe of connected worlds and spaces where users can have fresh, unique experiences.

Author Neal Stephenson coined the term metaverse in his science fiction novel Snow Crash. The book describes a virtual reality world designed by hackers and populated by avatars. The real world has become unlivable in the book, and the metaverse provides escapism and adventure.

Some people think of the metaverse as the next generation of internet-enabled experiences.  The progression goes something like this: think of the internet as beginning with Web 1.0, which indexed vast amounts of information and connected us to it. Next came Web 2.0 with “What you see is what you get” or WYSIWYG tools enabling anyone to publish content. Mobile-enabled social media and ubiquity of smartphones helped fuel the new world where everyone is a content creator. Web 2.0 is the backbone of how we share experiences and create connections today.

The metaverse is Web3 or 3.0, the next iteration of internet-enabled experiences. Web3 is a new generation of connected experiences that merges physical reality and with the digital experience. As it evolves, the metaverse is leading to a reimagination of how we live, individual identity, work and economics.

To be clear, the metaverse is not replacing the internet, nor does it mean the end of social media. Instead, the metaverse is closing the distance between our physical and digital lives. For example, you use social media to connect with friends who may be halfway across the globe. In the metaverse, you simulate being physically with your friends, exploring new places and having unique experiences together while inhabiting an avatar. Experts are referring to this shift from a 2D to a 3D social media world as Social Media 2.0. Instead of using a social media app on the internet to self-publish thoughts, ideas, and media people become the content within the internet.

Central to this idea in the metaverse is the avatar, a digital representation of a real person that is able to participate in a series of interconnected worlds. With the help of virtual (VR) and augmented (AR) reality, you interact with other users and the surroundings of their digital worlds.

For example, to join the metaverse, you can create a 3D avatar of yourself in sleek workout clothes. Don a pair of VR glasses for your morning workout, hop on your bike in your home gym, and transport to a hyper-realistic version of the Alps for a ride.

Instead of commuting to the office, you quickly change your avatar’s clothing to business casual before transporting to a Teamflow virtual office space for an important meeting. Afterward, you might relax in Miller Lite’s Meta Lite Bar in the center of Decentraland before heading out and joining millions of live viewers at a concert, like the Travis Scott Fortnite event. Or you might treat your kids to an Ed Sheeran show on Pokémon Go. You might even feel extra generous and use cryptocurrency or app-specific digital currencies to buy event merchandise for your kids’ avatars, like when you purchased virtual Zara Larsson backpacks for your daughter’s first day at her virtual school.

AR and VR technology are integral to blending our digital and physical worlds, but experts stress that the metaverse does not equate directly to virtual reality. The metaverse is not synonymous with the technology we use to create it. Brilliant minds are still determining the protocols for communications between interconnected worlds.

Today, a fully decentralized metaverse exists primarily as a concept, but you can witness its beginnings in some gaming and entertainment platforms that offer virtual experiences and interactions. Gartner, the technology research company, asserts in a 2022 article that the metaverse won’t mature before 2030. It will evolve through three overlapping phases: emerging, advanced, and mature. Gartner predicts the transition to the metaverse will be as momentous as the change from analog to digital.

However, Gartner says the time to act is now. “Market leaders must not wait to act until the metaverse is fully mature,” the article states.  The time to learn the metaverse marketing is now.

Key Takeaways

  • The metaverse is in its early stages, but it’s here. The time to act is now.
  • People disagree on definitions, but we know the metaverse is intimately tied to digital identities, blockchain, and NFTs. It presents new ideas of ownership, changes consumer behavior, and enables virtual economies.
  • Brands need to understand the cultural and economic workings of the metaverse to engage in it effectively.
  • The metaverse allows brands to reach a vast global audience and engage with customers in new, immersive ways.
  • Successful marketing strategies leverage the unique opportunities of the metaverse to deepen customer engagement.

Characteristics of the Metaverse

Definitions of the metaverse vary, but most experts agree on common characteristics. First, it depends on the decentralized blockchain for its digital economy. Second, it’s social and interactive. Like the real world, it’s real-time and continuous. Finally, technological advances will continue to power it and evolve it.

People worldwide are still imagining, designing and developing the evolving metaverse. Therefore no one can use any single definition to describe it. While some experts focus on the economic and social characteristics of the metaverse to guide their understanding, others emphasize the technologies to power its implementation.

To guide your company into the metaverse, you must understand its fundamental elements. Here are the key characteristics of the metaverse along with definitions:

  • Blockchain economics. The success of the metaverse depends on the existence of a thriving, digital economy. Participants (including companies) exchange goods and services. The metaverse economy runs on cryptocurrencies housed on the blockchain ledger. On the blockchain, every digital transaction is recorded as a “block” of data that shows the movement of an asset. Each block builds upon the last to confirm the provenance and ownership of items, making the ledger almost impossible to tamper with. Importantly, the blockchain is decentralized, with no dedicated servers or a single authority. Ethereum and Bitcoin are two popular digital currencies that run on blockchain technology.The blockchain enables users to take their tokens (a unit of data in a digital ledger), virtual products and collectibles when traveling between worlds. If the world in which a user purchases an item disappears, the user still owns the item. Users can also sell their items or use their virtual currency in new or different worlds.
  • Social interactions: The metaverse thrives on social interactions. There’s no barrier to access except the need for a phone or computer and an internet connection. Many of us already use the metaverse to create our content, and that will only accelerate in the coming years.
  • Continuous: No one can “reset” the metaverse. It continues to exist when you log off. Just like the real world, it has no end.
  • Synchronous: Everything in the metaverse happens in real-time. Users interact with others and their physical environment as they do in the physical world.
  • Technologically demanding: We need massive technological advances that make VR and AR products both cheaper and better before we reach mass adoption of the metaverse. For example, today’s consumer-facing technology, like VR headsets and haptic gloves, don’t allow for quick, seamless integration of physical movements into the metaverse. The existing products are expensive and out of reach for the average consumer. Finally, we need ultrafast internet connections to handle millions of concurrent, time-sensitive data that will power and render the evolving metaverse.
  • Decentralized: You can think of a decentralized world as open and a centralized world as closed. Currently, online experiences exist within a closed ecosystem. When you interact with a platform, be it Netflix, Facebook, or Sandbox, your experiences live within the bounds of that virtual experience, with an authority (the company) in control of the data.The matured metaverse will be a decentralized world that no single company will build or monopolize. Users will be able to share content and commerce within a single virtual environment. Most experts believe that a single digital currency housed on the blockchain will be fundamental to the decentralized future of the metaverse.
  • Interoperable: Interoperability refers to the ability of different systems to connect and communicate without any effort from the users. Interoperability and decentralization go hand in hand: Facebook and Netflix do not communicate seamlessly because both are centralized, distinct units that run with their administration and server.In the mature metaverse, users will be able to use their cryptocurrency in any world and transport seamlessly between them. The clothing on your avatar won’t change, for example, as you go from Fortnite’s world to Decentraland, two popular (yet currently not interoperable) metaverse worlds. However, experts disagree on whether there is just one singular “metaverse” or many “metaverses.”Interoperability also threatens the current status quo of most companies, whose profits depend on maintaining a distinct identity and offering unique services. True interoperability will require collaboration among brands in a way we have not seen. Even Facebook, which rebranded itself as Meta in 2021 to show its commitment to the metaverse, will offer only selective interoperability with its partner brands.

Gartner advises companies to start planning their entrance into the metaverse now, given its massive potential. “Strategic advantage depends on evaluating the opportunities for providing interaction capabilities, content and infrastructure now,” Gartner states. Also, the cost of entry is low now, and there’s little risk to experimentation.

However, the complexity of simply defining the metaverse sheds light on the challenges brands face as they enter a world that no one fully understands. Still, it’s essential to explore the cultural and economic underpinnings of the metaverse to engage in it effectively.

History and Current Trends in the Metaverse

The tech giants drove the internet’s development. Now, some of these same companies have made significant investments in metaverse technology, a telling sign that the metaverse is rapidly evolving. Savvy brands will continually evaluate the technology and trends as the metaverse experience unfolds.

While the metaverse isn’t widely understood, its emergence may not surprise gamers and science fiction fans. Fictional metaverse-like concepts appeared in popular novels/movies like Snow Crash and Ready Player One and films like The Matrix. Often, the media represents an idealized metaverse as a better version of real life. Physical appearance, background, or physical identity do not restrict digital experiences in this world.

Gamers have been dabbling in their own versions of the pre-metaverse for years, socializing online in games like Counterstrike, for example. Until recently, most people had not participated in these types of online social experiences.

However, the pandemic gave us a massive push. COVID-19 restrictions suddenly led us to   conduct more of our lives online. Activities that blend physical presence with a digital identity became more popular. For example, COVID-19 normalized Zoom weddings, graduations on Minecraft and trying out new products with the help of 3D technology.

Savvy companies try to follow public interest, and they have not lagged when it comes to the metaverse. Many entertainment and gaming businesses are shaping the landscape. For example, PC gaming titles like Fortnite and Minecraft normalized using games to socialize with others in a virtual setting. Newer games like Decentraland and Roblox run on cryptocurrency and enable users to create and sell virtual products. Other companies such as Oculus and Unity continue to develop exciting AR and VR technologies.

In the summer of 2021, the metaverse got a big thumbs-up from one of the most influential companies in the world: Facebook. In October of 2021, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was rebranding itself as Meta to symbolize its investment in the metaverse. Brands like Unity Software and Microsoft also announced significant company-wide changes as they pivot toward a metaverse future.

Types of Worlds in the Metaverse

Each metaverse world caters to unique interests and offers a wide range of activities that mix the physical and digital. Some of today’s most active metaverse worlds include platforms like Decentraland, The Sandbox, and TCG World.

The gaming industry has been the first to create metaverse worlds or platforms. These worlds have large user bases, facilitate social interactions, feature detailed physical environments, and have digital currency housed on the blockchain.

Currently, metaverse worlds are closed: Players cannot transport from one to another. Most experts consider these current metaverse platforms as “approximations” of the metaverse, disjointed threads that will eventually be connected to make up the fabric of the metaverse.

Whether you think these platforms are or are not the “true” metaverse, one thing is clear: They all feature characteristics of the metaverse. You can join any one of these popular platforms to get a taste of the metaverse and envision what it may look like in the future.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular metaverse platforms available today.

  • Decentraland: Decentraland started as a game in 2015 but opened to the public in February 2020 as the first metaverse built on the Ethereum blockchain. You can use the currency MANA as a token to buy land parcels and import 3D models or games into their land. Decentraland is wholly owned by its users, who cooperate to determine whether more land will be created on Decentraland. So, as demand soars for land, current Decentraland owners are set to profit. It’s a favorite for large investors and enterprises.  Barbados even has an embassy there.
  • Sandbox: Sandbox started as a game in 2012, but new owners introduced 3D and blockchain to the game in 2018. Sandbox uses the token SAND. From major real estate clients to multiple entertainment partners in finance and gaming, users spend SAND tokens to create a virtual Mega City. Players can use Sandbox’s 3D modeling tool to develop avatars, plants, animals, and other objects that they can sell on the marketplace.
  • Roblox: Roblox is a popular online game that half of American teenagers play. In Roblox, users can program and create games for other players to enjoy. The platform runs on Robux Crypto, which players can use to purchase avatar accessories and in-game items.
  • Second Life: Some experts think Second Life is our closest approximation to the true metaverse. In Second Life, users create avatars and have a second life in an online virtual world. Users (called Sims) make and sell products with the Linden cryptocurrency, travel to new lands, and socialize with other residents.

Other metaverse-like platforms attracting attention include Fortnite, Illuvium, Cryptovoxels and emerging platforms like Facebook’s Meta. Today’s worlds trend toward decentralized earning and user-generated content built around the blockchain.

How Does the Metaverse Work?

To visit today’s metaverse, you simply need to choose one of the open metaverse worlds like Decentraland and create an account. You do not need virtual reality technology to access the metaverse, though it will enhance the experience.

Entering today’s metaverse platforms requires little effort. Once you create an account, you will create an avatar. In most cases, you will need to buy cryptocurrency linked to whichever metaverse platform you choose, like MANA for Decentraland or SAND for Sandbox.

VR technology like headsets from Oculus will give you the best experience, but you only need a smartphone or computer to enter.

In the future, entering the metaverse will be different. Imagine putting on a VR headset that turns your physical space into a hyper-realistic version of your avatar’s room. You can choose an outfit and then do whatever you would do in real life – go to work, play a game with friends, shop, or hang out alone and create content.

The metaverse is rewriting the rule book on the limitations of our daily lives. This transformative nature also extends to businesses. The metaverse will revolutionize trade, manufacturing, education, product testing, retail, and many other sectors.

What Does the Metaverse Mean for Marketing?

Businesses need to adjust their brand strategy to align with the metaverse experience. Successful marketing focuses on legitimate user engagement. The metaverse also allows for creative, novel approaches that would be impossible in the physical world.

The rules of yesterday will not work in the metaverse. Companies need to get creative and throw out the rulebook on digital marketing to succeed.

The new metaverse marketing ecosystem requires brands to create experiences true to the metaverse: digital goods and collectibles like NFTs, virtual programming, and augmented reality. Because the mature metaverse will not have a single server or administrator, brands will not want to overwhelm users by plugging their logo everywhere. Instead, innovative marketing campaigns will focus on natively integrating the brand within the fabric of the metaverse.

Brad Ferringo, Product Experience Director

Brad Ferringo, Product Experience Director

Brad Ferringo, an audio UX expert for augmented reality platforms, points out that while metaverse marketing can borrow some aspects from traditional marketing, it also builds upon them to create more personalized and immersive marketing experiences. Brad notes that “there will always be a fight for eyeballs, but the good old agreement of ‘we will give you entertainment value for tolerating ads’ will still apply for the near term. The future will undoubtedly drive new, non-traditional approaches to brand and marketing.”

Finally, the metaverse will undoubtedly create demand for fresh marketing niches. As Ferringo points out, “Just like we have different agencies and consultants for print, web and broadcast marketing, the metaverse will have new marketing verticals and pillars via creative self-expression, brand touchpoints, and commerce specialized for numerous cryptocurrency variances.”

Why Brands Are Using the Metaverse

The metaverse lets brands reach an enormous audience in a young demographic. Brands will also have access to innovative marketing tools based on new technologies. Companies hoping to build their reputation will need to engage with shoppers where they are – and they will be in the metaverse.

Beck Besecker, CEO of 3D Cloud by Marxent, says it best: “Traditional retailers are already dependent on 3D product visualization and augmented reality to engage users and deliver sales. As people spend more time in metaverse applications, the entire shopping experience, from product discovery to checkout, will happen in 3D. Brands that don’t have a 3D strategy today are already behind.”

Brands that don’t engage in the metaverse will undoubtedly fall behind. Besides the motivation of the fear of missing out, the metaverse also provides tangible and novel benefits to brands.

Brands using the metaverse will find these benefits:

  • Targeted audience, but global reach: The vast majority of today’s metaverse users are Gen Z or Millennials – groups that can be tricky to target. The potential reach is massive – consider that 33 million people attended Lil Nas X’s concert and that half of Americans ages 16 or younger regularly use Roblox.
  • Unique ways to engage: Since users can interact from anywhere, the metaverse holds massive opportunities for raising brand awareness. Virtual and augmented reality technology and 3D visualizations represent a new medium to transform how businesses create campaigns and connect with users.
  • Ways to create long-lasting customer loyalty: Brands will have the opportunity to immerse users into virtual words that enmesh their brand identity with new experiences. For example, users of Vans World will test their skills on the park’s halfpipe while trying on new apparel and performing high-end tricks. Users will leave with a positive experience, deepening their loyalty to the brand. By creating this space, Vans expresses that it cares about enriching the consumer’s experience – an investment that can be difficult with traditional marketing.
  • Exciting marketing opportunities: Instead of just running ads, brands can be involved in creating the metaverse itself. Having a say in the framework of the metaverse gives brands immense power to engage users in ways that are not possible with traditional online marketing.

What Types of Brands are Using the Metaverse?

Brands that lend themselves naturally to virtual goods and events have dominated the metaverse landscape. Examples include luxury brands, real estate, and retail. However, companies of all types will have virtual value in the metaverse.

Types of businesses that have already made their way into the metaverse include:

  • Entertainment: The metaverse is changing how we watch videos, attend events, play games, and listen to music. Disney, for example, has announced plans to create a “metaverse theme park,” and MGM has similar augmented reality experiences in the works. Gaming brands have been the first to enter the metaverse, but Hollywood and streaming services like Netflix are not far behind. Popstar Zara Larsson partnered with Roblox to offer her fans personalized merchandise for their avatars, like hats and sunglasses – a venture that netted the star over one million dollars in profits. Other performers like Ariana Grande, John Legend, Billie Eilish and Travis Scott attract seven-figure profits from the millions of international live viewers that attend their immersive concerts.
  • Real estate: The metaverse holds enormous opportunities to show and sell physical homes. Home shoppers can sit back with some VR glasses and go through a virtual tour modeled from a real home to get a feel for the space.The metaverse applications for real estate don’t stop in the physical realm: People are spending millions to buy their own piece of virtual land. The metaverse real estate market reached new heights in 2021 when metaverse real estate developer Republic Realm completed the largest land acquisition in Sandbox. It purchased 792 parcels of land (equivalent to around 1,200 city blocks) in a $4.3 million transaction . The investing firm Metaverse Group wasn’t far behind their competitor – they spent 618,000 MANA tokens (equivalent to $2.43 million) to buy land in the center of the fashion district of Decentraland.It’s not just big firms that are buying land, either. Single transactions on land and assets from normal users amounted to nearly $25 million on Decentraland, with an average of $325 per asset. Though, just like in the physical world, some property is worth more than others: One NFT collector, for example, spent $450,000 to own a plot of land in the “Snoopverse” – a world that Snoop Dogg is developing in Sandbox. Airbnb even announced plans to invest in cryptocurrency and allow users to rent out their virtual land as NFTs.

    Snoop NFT

    Snoop Dogg avatar in Sandbox

  • Furniture: What good is a virtual home if you can’t design it to your liking? Luckily, the furniture industry and designers are responding to growing demand. High-end designer Andrés Reisinger auctioned ten pieces of virtual furniture for a total value of $450,000 (sold within the first 10 minutes of its auction). These digital furniture pieces leverage the unique capabilities of the metaverse to bring new designs that would not be possible in the physical realm.But, the furniture market isn’t just for upper-class users. Major furniture retailers are scrambling to get metaverse furniture showrooms up and running. The demand makes sense: as more of us venture onto the metaverse to hang out, we will want some virtual chairs and couches to lounge in. Design Home, a popular apartment design game, now offers virtual products from Williams-Sonoma, West Elm, and Pottery Barn that players can put in their virtual rooms at reasonable prices.  One West Elm sofa goes for $2.The demand for virtual furniture will grow. Until then, big-name brands like Ikea have already begun to use AR and VR technology to create apps where viewers can see what physical pieces would look like in their homes.
  • Retail: Big-name brands like Nike, Adidas, Prada and Gucci all sell products in the metaverse. For example, in Gucci’s latest dive into the metaverse, the luxury retailer partnered with an NFT project called 10KTF. Here, Gucci offers users access to the Gucci Grail, a collection of digital accessories. To have access, users need to buy a “mint pass” for 1 Ethereum token, around $2,700. These brands are not only creating digital products for sale but also have created their virtual worlds for users to explore so that they will engage with the brand on a more meaningful level.
  • Manufacturing: 3D models will change the face of the manufacturing industry, making innovative product design cheaper and safer. The virtual realm will also provide a great way to train employees, test prototypes, and preview planned changes to the design and production processes. Highly accurate simulations will allow businesses to identify and resolve issues quickly.Boeing announced plans to design its new jet using digital mockups that stitch together every aircraft’s design element with relevant requirements to ensure compliance. The company revealed ambitions to create a virtual factory to simulate and optimize its famous aircraft line.
  • Healthcare: Remote diagnoses and virtual consultations will change how we seek medical care. Some medical institutions like DeHealth, a British non-profit, are exploring how they can leverage the metaverse to train doctors in simulations.
  • Education: The metaverse will transform education. The trend toward remote learning that started with the pandemic will only grow in the metaverse, with virtual classrooms replacing or complementing traditional educational models. Instead of going on a field trip, your child could transport directly to an actual virtual representation of early Roman architecture or watch a hyper-realistic version of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.VR and AR learning technologies have the potential to improve knowledge retention, particularly for hands-on skills. For example, mechanics in training will use haptic gloves to learn the ins and outs of a virtual engine, and surgeons will fine-tune their skills virtually.Finally, learning in the metaverse will connect users worldwide, sparking more interactive, inclusive discussions and creating more profound learning experiences. The metaverse will also dramatically improve accessibility.  Virtual universities mean that anyone with an internet connection could be able to pursue higher education. In a decentralized metaverse, the price of education should no longer be a barrier to entry. Of course, these potential opportunities come with challenges like accessibility for those with learning impairments and disabilities. Still, you can’t overstate the potential for transformative change in education.
  • Employment and work: Virtual job fairs and remote interviews already shape how we find work. There will be even more emphasis on how you present yourself in the metaverse. With less of a focus on physical presence, employers will be able to select the top candidates, breeding innovation across various industries. These trends could bring more job competition and breed higher turnover.Online meetings with colleagues and virtual conferences will become more sophisticated on the metaverse. Today’s top tech companies are racing to capitalize on our collective trend toward remote work. Microsoft announced that it would integrate Mesh, a collaborative platform for virtual experiences, into their video conferencing app, Microsoft Teams. Mesh will allow users to represent themselves in meetings with customizable 3D avatars that run without VR and AR technology. Meta (formerly Facebook) announced early on that it intended to build virtual office and meeting spaces in its “workplace” platform.Finally, as the metaverse expands, it will bring new jobs that don’t exist today in AR, VR and 6G internet technology. We will also see the rise of virtual-specific jobs like metaverse real estate agents, investors, and marketing experts.

How Brands Can Shape the Metaverse to Their Advantage

Early adopters of the metaverse will affect how the metaverse evolves. These businesses can leverage the virtual space in ways that benefit their business model. For example, brands can reshape brand identity, reach new audiences and build community.

Metaverse users will expect immersive experiences instead of traditional advertisements. Businesses will need to create a real-time presence to offer authentic, honest campaigns. Brands that succeed will shape the way marketing occurs in the metaverse, an innovative position that will boost their reputation significantly.

For example, a brand could use metaverse tools to build metaverse content quickly so it better aligns with business goals, such as evaluating a new campaign or targeting a particular audience. For example, Coca-Cola used its NFT launch to create a feeling of community among younger users of the metaverse.

Dr. Svend Hollensen, Associate Professor of International Marketing

Dr. Svend Hollensen, Associate Professor of International Marketing

Dr. Svend Hollensen, associate professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management at the University of Southern Denmark, also sees a way for businesses to use NFTs in creative ways that bolster their brand awareness and network with other companies. Dr. Hollensen, who authored the 2022 paper “Metaverse – the New Marketing Universe,”  says that “the most potent value of the metaverse comes when users are permitted to generate digital content and NFTs. For example, a piece of virtual art bought by Company A as a token from Company B could be displayed on the digital wall of a house owned by Company C, which could then pay a license fee to the owner, Company A.”

Dr. Hollensen adds that “one of the most appealing values behind a successful NFT collection ownership is its community. Owning certain NFTs is like a community pass or a membership that grants the ownership holders exclusive access to an online social club or a limited-edition drops, which benefit from network effects (broad appeal and widespread awareness).”

How You Can Use the Metaverse in Marketing

You can use the metaverse in marketing most effectively to engage users with your brand in a meaningful way. Successful brands will be genuine and capitalize on a niche that is true to their brand to build trust with their customers and brand value.

The unique features of the metaverse lend themselves particularly well to brands that hope to deepen customer loyalty, target younger customers, and create strong reputations. With the right marketing strategies, you can use the metaverse to achieve these and other diverse business goals.

Types of Marketing in the Metaverse

Brands have the opportunity to help build the metaverse and foster long-term relationships with users. Successful businesses will focus on marketing that improves user experiences.

Marketers in the metaverse have the opportunity to integrate within the fabric of the metaverse itself. Instead of focusing on interruptive, invasive advertising models found across the Internet, marketers can now brand as participants of the metaverse itself. This change in thinking has come with innovative marketing strategies that brands already use on today’s early metaverse platforms.

Metaverse Marketing Strategies With Examples

Businesses are bringing unique marketing strategies to the metaverse. For example, companies can already create a virtual venue and sell digital goods. They also can use visual reality to create immersive experiences. Vans, Nike, Gucci and others have jumped into the early metaverse.

Here are detailed examples of metaverse marketing strategies:

  • Create an immersive experience. Mirror the immersive nature of the metaverse with your marketing. Instead of just running ads, create interactive spaces where fans can engage authentically with your content. For example, Vans partnered with Roblox to launch an interactive skatepark called “Vans World.” Users can practice their skills on skateparks designed from real-life, famous arenas like The Vans Park in Huntington Beach, CA. The luxury brand Louis Vuitton even created its own video game, showing how companies are branching out to enable active brand engagement.
    Vans World in Roblox

    Vans World in Roblox

     

  • Create virtual programming and live events: Metaverse consumers don’t necessarily distinguish between real-life events and virtual events. Massive interactive live events (MILEs) are one way to attract audiences of enormous scale. For example, in his 2020 virtual concert on Roblox, Lil Nas X attracted an astounding 33 million views – 470 times the capacity of most stadiums! Other examples of MILEs include Travis Scott’s 2020 concert in Fortnite, which 12.3 million live viewers attended. Virtual Programming isn’t just limited to performers: Warner Bros. premiered the movie Tenet at theater locations that Fortnite users could access. Some interactive media experiences like GEN’ID’s Rival Peak go on for months. The audiences help determine the outcome – another creative use of the metaverse that would be difficult to mimic in the physical world.
    Rival Peak Metaverse Reality TV Show

    Rival Peak Metaverse Reality TV Show

     

  • Use parallel metaverse marketing and real-life marketing: Retail brands use augmented and virtual reality to allow customers to try products virtually before purchasing. Adidas, Gucci, Nike, and L’Oréal all offer these services. The flip side is also true: Companies could use the metaverse to test and manufacture virtual products and then launch their physical counterparts in real life.
    L’Oréal users try on makeup virtually

    L’Oréal users try on makeup virtually

     

  • Create a virtual venue: Brands can participate in the metaverse itself, creating virtual venues that enmesh the brand’s strategies and products with the activities of the virtual space.For example, Nike created its own branded virtual world on the platform Roblox. In Nikeland, users transport to a virtual replica of the Global Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Users spend time together, play games, and create their own experiences with sports materials. With AR technology, players can incorporate real-life movements into in-game results, like long jumps and speed runs, merging active and virtual participation. Players can also create new interactive sports games with the tool kit. These millions of international users are building a relationship with Nike that would be impossible to make with traditional online or physical marketing.
    Nikeland on Roblox

    Nikeland on Roblox

     

  • Metaverse commerce: Sell virtual goods. A virtual product that exists only in the virtual realm is exclusively digital, although businesses may model digital products after an actual item. Customers view virtual products as new, exciting, and exclusive – all qualities that send prices soaring and create demand. Fashion retailers like Gucci and Nike have partnered with metaverse platforms to sell unique clothing items for avatars. Recently, even superstore giant Walmart announced that it intends to make and sell virtual goods.In 2021, Mars House, the world’s first digital home, sold for $500,000. In February 2021, Sandbox users sold 2,352 plots for a combined $2.8 million. This real estate surge has companies scrambling to create virtual furniture and artwork and has even made a new job: a virtual real estate agent.Other brands have used the metaverse to define their own existence – like Fabricant, a digital-only couture house that made headlines in 2019 when it sold a digital dress for $9,500.
    Mary Ren the owner of Fabricant’s Digi-couture dress

    Mary Ren the owner of Fabricant’s Digi-couture dress

     

  • Launch Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). An NFT is a specific type of digital good secured on the blockchain. The media has described NFTs as high-priced digital collectibles, but the actual value of NFTs to brands and users is far greater. The term “non-fungible” means that the digital item is one of a kind, unlike “fungible” items, which you can interchange with another item of its kind (like a dollar or any cryptocurrency token). NFTs include clothing for an avatar, artwork for your virtual home, vehicles, event tickets and more.Brands can use NFTs as functional technologies to link the brand (or NFT owner) to consumers. For example, NFTs often come with additional physical, digital, and virtual benefits. NFTs give companies a unique way to intertwine a product with other brand activities, like product releases, event ticketing, and loyalty programs. For example, the band Kings of Leon earned $2 million in NFT sales of their album; each album represented unique album artwork, and all customers had a chance to win four front-row seats to any Kings of Leon concert, anywhere.With some creativity, any brand can create NFTs that have tremendous value. Even Taco Bell has made thousands of dollars in its virtual NFT artwork products. Users willing to spend money on these tokens value the brand. Offering unique items will only solidify that consumer trust base.
    Taco Bell’s Transformative Taco NFT on Rarible

    Taco Bell’s Transformative Taco NFT on Rarible

     

  • Create digital collectibles. One of the most popular forms of NFTs comes as digital collectibles, which are unique or limited-edition virtual items. These items can range from artwork to sports memorabilia to music. For example, Coca-Cola raised over $500,000 selling its line of Coca-Cola virtual apparel. (Cola-Cola donated all of the profits to the Special Olympics). The National Basketball Association (NBA) grossed over $230 million in sales when it released a series of digital sports cards that included video reels and player highlights. The LeBron James Top Shot highlight alone sold for $208,000.
    Coca Cola Friendship Box NFT made with Tafi

    Coca Cola Friendship Box NFT made with Tafi

     

  • Brand Co-creation. The metaverse offers brands a massive opportunity to co-promote across different experiences. As UX expert Ferringo points out, “New strategies will include co-operative and orchestrated campaigns that give each vendor multiple paths to their brand or experience. Brands can help each other through strength in diversified numbers.”Remember, no one will own or control the metaverse. Forming a collaboration with a brand already established in the metaverse will be the most accessible point of entry for most companies. Brands commonly partner with metaverse platforms. For example, Gucci and Genies, an avatar maker, have cooperated to create a new brand of Gucci-laden avatars.
    Gucci Avatars on Genies

    Gucci Avatars on Genies

    Gucci Avatars from Zepeto

    Gucci Avatars from Zepeto

This list represents only the strategies already in action; undoubtedly, new collaborations and marketing strategies will emerge as innovators and creatives continue to enter the metaverse.

These marketing strategies integrate and build upon one another to form a brand’s metaverse identity. For example, Nike made its metaverse entrance on its virtual venue, Nikeland, where users engage with the brand in ways impossible in a physical space. But, at Nikeland, you can purchase digital Nike NFTs and collectibles for your avatar. Nike’s entrance into the metaverse would not have been possible without collaborating with the gaming giant Roblox.

Metaverse Marketing Best Practices

Metaverse marketing should follow basic best practices at this early stage. First, outline a strategy with clear goals. Second, focus on transparent and consistent branding to resonate with customers. Finally, embrace metaverse experts to help guide you.

Metaverse users value creativity and want their virtual existence to be as authentic as possible. Brands cannot just mimic their existing marketing activity in this new virtual paradigm. The most successful brands will ask how they can contribute to developing and creating an inclusive, immersive virtual world.

Ensure a graceful entrance into the metaverse with these best practices:

  • Think through your strategy. As with any marketing endeavor, draw up a strategy with clear objectives: Ask yourself: How can you use the metaverse to offer a better experience to your customer? Create a long-term vision and brand with conviction. Companies that perceive the metaverse as a “fad” and focus on short-sighted marketing campaigns will commit the most egregious metaverse crime: insincerity.
  • Time your entry. Being among the first brands of your kind to join the metaverse does come with PR glory and the opportunity to lead the way in innovative marketing strategy. However, you will inevitably make a mistake with few case studies to learn from. Large companies with massive fan bases and capital to invest in experimentation will benefit from an early metaverse entrance.
  • Embrace technologists. Prepared brands will partner with technologists and metaverse experts to help tread unfamiliar territory. Consider dedicating the resources and time to create a position like chief metaverse officer or virtual marketing officer.
  • Engage specialist marketers. Engage specialist marketers with credentials to support entry, embrace technologists and understand the virtual rights landscape. Partner with a venturing arm that can identify the best-in-class metaverse technology.

Challenges of Metaverse Marketing

Metaverse marketing comes with significant challenges at this early stage. For example, brands risk turning off metaverse users if a campaign doesn’t feel sincere. Businesses also face data privacy and safety issues. Additionally, it may take years to get a return on your investment.

Diving into unknown territory is always risky. Some metaverse challenges include:

  • Unpredictability: We do not know how consumers or the market will respond to metaverse marketing strategies. Any business that wants to strike gold in the metaverse must be willing to accept the chance that their approach may not turn out as planned.
  • Novelty: The metaverse is still a highly experimental ground for marketing. Businesses will inevitably struggle to define objectives in this innovative space. Brands may consider doing promotional campaigns in the metaverse worlds they hope to market to test the waters and create a precise marketing objective.
  • Reputation: Since everyone can create content in the metaverse, your brand’s content might inadvertently appear alongside inappropriate or offensive material.

    Hollensen of the University of Southern Denmark points out that being in the metaverse could have unintended consequences on a brand’s reputation. Hollensen cautions brands, noting that “since everyone can access the metaverse and do whatever they want, the brands will need to find a way to protect their image and reputation. Any instant digital crises may happen when scammers or hackers appear on the platform.”
  • Overwhelming content: Businesses may go overboard in their metaverse campaigns because physical resources won’t limit them. Excessive marketing can overwhelm your audience with content to the point that potential buyers become disgruntled and lose interest.
  • Data privacy: In the metaverse, we will give up more data about our lives, which brands can use to target their campaigns precisely. Policymakers must find the right limit for personal data exchange that protects users and businesses.
  • Protecting your IP: It is still too early to tell how businesses will manage IP in the metaverse. The interoperability of the metaverse has trademark experts scrambling to figure out how to make IP rights interconnected between the various metaverse worlds.
  • Return on investment: The metaverse will demand patience from brands. It will not be a place for any company looking for short-term gains. As in the early days of social media, companies may need to wait years for the metaverse to mature before seeing a return on their investment.

Metaverse Advertising Examples

Advertising is the easiest way a business can enter the emerging metaverse. But metaverse users won’t tolerate invasive advertising. Instead, brands should insert ads that don’t interrupt the metaverse experience.

Traditional advertising can feel invasive: An ad might suddenly jump out in the middle of your favorite YouTube video, screaming for attention. Users seek and place a premium value on bona fide campaigns in the metaverse. Any business that plasters its name all over the metaverse risks turning the world into one giant ad – and losing many customers.

Here are examples of metaverse advertising:

  • Virtual reality billboards: Yes, billboard advertising will exist in the metaverse. Innovative companies can use these ads to enhance the realism for a metaverse user. Billboards exist all over cities and towns across the world. It would make sense for them to be in the metaverse, too.
  • Product placement: Games or virtual venues will come packed with characters who have specific preferences like us. For example, perhaps the main character in your favorite Roblox game loves Apple products and Whole Foods.
  • Immersive advertising: Instead of a popup ad, brands can create their own stories or games that invite users to interact with the product. For example, in Nikeland on Roblox, users can try on the company’s shoes while using their game builder to create a new sport.

Advertising will be among the first strategies brands will use to enter the metaverse. If brands tread cautiously and focus on creating original campaigns, these traditional advertising platforms can morph into immersive, hyper-realistic experiences for the users.

Future of Metaverse Marketing

Innovation will define the future of metaverse marketing. With improved technology, the number of users will skyrocket, and transformative creators will emerge with fresh marketing campaigns.

The nature of the metaverse will allow for more engaging, creative marketing. As more brands and users enter the metaverse, content creation will explode. Given the collaborative nature of the metaverse, experts imagine that the metaverse will break down creative barriers and help brands develop new experiences in marketing, customer service, and product testing.

Finally, as the metaverse matures in the coming years, so too will generations of young people who have grown up with the internet. Some of them inevitably will become creators, business leaders and thinkers who will use their unique frame of reference to instigate massive transformations.

Dr. Hollensen of the University of Southern Denmark says, “The fact that Nike and other big B2C brands are increasingly appearing on the metaverse is only the early beginning. The metaverse may expand very fast when the development will hit the huge layer of B2C and B2B regional and local brands below the big global brands.”

How Will the Metaverse Change Marketing?

The metaverse will revolutionize the way that brands interact with and attract users. Brands should focus on using the unique tools of the metaverse to promote storytelling, engagement, and customer service.

Though the future may be challenging to predict, we know that the metaverse will not stop growing. Ease of use will increase, more users will venture into the virtual realm, and brands will continue testing and experimenting. With the metaverse slated to be the next frontier for human connection and interaction, we know two things for sure: The metaverse will fundamentally change marketing, and no brand will be able to opt out for much longer.

Why Should You Be Marketing in the Metaverse?

The metaverse will revolutionize every aspect of our daily lives. Brands that stay on the sidelines for too long will find themselves so far behind that recovery may not be an option. Moreover, marketing in the metaverse offers novel ways to build customer loyalty and target a massive, global audience.

2021 saw a surge of interest in the metaverse. From limited-edition collectibles to NFT auctions, diverse brands are venturing into the future iteration of the internet.

These trends will only strengthen in the coming years. Look at blockchain-based revenue statistics: The numbers of NFT developers, active wallets, daily transactions, secondary sales, and market value are growing. Virtual reality sales and user numbers follow a similar, steady trend that points to the metaverse as the future.

For companies in doubt, think about the internet. At first, it all felt experimental. Eventually, some brands were successful on the internet, and others remained offline. Now, internet marketing is a literal must-have asset. There is no reason to believe that the metaverse will not follow a similar trajectory.

Metaverse Content Marketing Isn’t Easy

Metaverse content marketing is an emerging, novel field. Success means throwing out your business playbook and starting from scratch.  In the end, metaverse marketing will challenge even the most seasoned marketing veterans.

Predicting the nuances of an unformed system will be difficult for anyone. Still, brands that hope to grow simply do not have a choice but to dive right in. Proactive businesses will seek the advice of experts and companies who have their fingers on the pulse of the metaverse.

How Marxent Helps Companies Create Content in the Metaverse

Top brands trust 3D Cloud by Marxent to manage their 3D product lines and guide them into the metaverse. Partner with Marxent now to create 3D models for today’s campaigns while preparing for the metaverse retail of the future.

In 2022, Marxent rebranded to “3D Cloud by Marxent, “ which symbolizes the company’s commitment to creating top-notch 3D visualizations for current and emerging retail models.

Brands like Lowe’s, La-Z-Boy, Macy’s and American Woodmark all partner with 3D Cloud to ensure access to the market’s best enterprise 3D commerce solutions. 3D Cloud enables high-value sales of large configurable products online and on mobile devices with scalable visualizations that support enterprise retailers and manufacturers. Get the most out of your investment into 3D products with AR search and 3D advertising on social media.

3D Cloud’s scalable platform will ensure that clients are ready for emerging models, including metaverse retail. You will not find a better partner to help you create content in the metaverse.

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