As humanity treks through several new waves of technological innovations, there is no denying the unease some feel over the metaverse. Primarily popularized through Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Meta’ company announcement back in 2021, he aims to “bring the metaverse to life, help people connect, and help communities and businesses grow.” From this announcement came the thousands online, calling out the harsh similarities between the metaverse and science fiction stories about dystopian futures like 1984, Snow Crash, and Brave New World. This begs the question, is there a limit to the amount of technology we need in our lives?
It’s an important question to ask because many hold varied opinions over the impact the metaverse will have on our daily lives. Some have suggested that the metaverse will be a way back to economic stability through its innovative business structure. Other voices, specifically from The New York Times, have noted that the metaverse may supercharge disinformation campaigns, espionage, and surveillance. And yet, the metaverse is alive and breathing. At 47 million currently, its users are forging new advancements onto the virtual environment, and no data suggests this trend will be slowing down.
With that in mind, there is perhaps one career group that is more excited than any other about the popularization of the metaverse; digital marketers. Not only does the metaverse mean a whole new landscape for connecting customers with products, but it will also come to redefine how we look at digital marketing itself. To further analyze this, let’s look at twelve key ways the metaverse is transforming digital marketing processes:
1) The Metaverse is Changing the Way Marketing Agencies Meet With Clients
Marketing agencies have long been sources of creativity and collaboration that merge with companies in need of campaign clarity to reach targeted audiences. This won’t change within the metaverse, but it will redefine how these companies interact with clients. In less than ten years from now, it won’t be uncommon to see many, if not all, marketing agencies using some form of the metaverse to communicate with their clients. One current example is the rise of popularity in Oculus’ Horizon Workrooms for agencies connecting with clients.
Oculus Horizon Workrooms allow collaborators to come together in one room, as digital avatars, to discuss business topics. While millions already collaborate through zoom, Oculus Horizon Workrooms will go the extra mile by having everyone in an immersive 3-D workroom. Allowing avatars to write notes, look directly at each other, speak, and personalize looks to tell employees apart. Freelance digital marketers will be able to meet clients in the workroom. Agencies could design their specific room, personalized to their company or client. The word collaboration itself will become an immersive digital experience.
2) The Metaverse is Becoming the Best Way for Marketers to Target Younger Demographics
One of the most popular metaverse gaming companies is Roblox. Launching in 2006, the company has accumulated nearly 202 million monthly active users on the platform. With its digital avatar experience, players can create games, release them on the forum, and play thousands of other games alongside the Roblox user community. This proves that Millenials and Gen Z’s have long been familiar with the metaverse, even if there was no direct name for it at the time.
Similarly, many teens and young adults use Apple’s iMessage Avatar to send emojis and identify friends. This familiarity in lifelike avatar identification with specific users, and active users of Roblox and Apple’s metaverse platforms, showcases that the metaverse’s intended audience aligns directly with Gen Z and Millennials. At the same time, only 38% of current teens are convinced that the metaverse will be the next big thing; at least seven in ten are interested in interacting with the virtual universe. The rise of video games, fashion labels, record labels, and tech companies reeling in young demographics with attractive metaverse platforms throughout the years proves the need for digital spaces.
The metaverse, alongside its current trends, will continue to become a hotbed for the young audience’s attention. Video games will shift towards virtual reality, parties with friends separated by location will be thrown in virtual spaces, and online shopping in digital stores will become revolutionized in a virtual universe. Target markets will become identifiable, and Gen Z and Millennials will likely make up the bulk of the audience.
3) The Metaverse is Redefining Billboard Marketing - In Digital Form
Imagine you are playing a medieval game on the metaverse. You are walking through the woods with your Oculus; it is nighttime. You are holding a sword and hunting for deer. All of a sudden, you see a glimmer of light above; you look up and see a floating billboard between the stars that says, “Amazon Prime: 30% Membership Off for February 2025.”
That is the future of billboard marketing; it's right directly in the experience. This elevates digital marketing because the billboards aren’t just in physical spaces; they exist in the virtual reality of the metaverse. The meta-billboards may not play out precisely as described above, though metaverse billboard advertisements are already beginning to pop up. They are making it an avenue for many brands to flock to for the sake of being seen. This will reinvent how we design billboards, the spaces in which we market them, and the state of mind the viewer will be visiting the advertisements.
Think about our daily lives. We are bound to see a physical advertisement at some point on a walk through our local neighbourhood. Usually, we wouldn’t bat an eye. The same goes for our phones. Our attention span for digital advertisements is three seconds or less. However, there is much more space to have your billboard seen in a virtual universe with minor promotions. For the time being, billboard advertising is a sparsely populated area in the metaverse, and digital marketers should look into populating it for the sake of being seen. But remember, you have to be seen for the right reasons:
4) Digital Marketing is Becoming Part of A User's Immersive Experience
Think of the example above with the user playing a medieval game in the metaverse, suddenly seeing an Amazon Prime ad in the night sky. Would that billboard resonate with the player? Does it represent the themes and interests of the player? It is likely not because it isn’t related to what the user is playing. Several advertisements could match that situation better:
- A song advertisement by a folk artist whose lyrics reflect a person travelling in the woods
- A buildup of a similar video game with medieval storylines
Even then, the user may still be aggravated by the advertisement. It takes away from the metaverse experience and feels forced. How could you create a solid digital marketing campaign in the metaverse with that in mind? You bring it into the background. You find the correct concepts that fascinate, intrigue, or delight an intended audience.
If you are fashion marketing, introduce a line of work for a specific game that incorporates your products. Please bring it to the game while offering accurate life versions of the virtual products. If it is a virtual concert, and you want to promote merchandise, allow the meta user to try it on at the concert. Let the meta user take a photo with the shirt and offer the product in a physical version with a percent off. Get creative with experiential marketing, and you will build relationships with customers through the metaverse in the process.
5) Storytelling in Digital Marketing is Becoming More Important Than Ever
If your digital marketing is immersed in user experience, it must tell a good story. This is because the virtual experiences users will go through in the metaverse will often contain unravelling, dynamic storytelling in some form. Connecting whatever you are trying to promote in a meaningful way will require a good essence of storytelling. In our blog How to Use Storytelling in Your Digital Marketing, we dive deeper into telling compelling stories surrounding what you are trying to promote.
One may ask, are there new rules for storytelling in the metaverse? Yes, there will undoubtedly be new conditions that guide storytelling, if not practices. As companies like Meta gear users towards the metaverse, storytelling will need to be thrust into the user’s direct experience. Even more so than ever before. Considering this user will be in a virtual reality where they can see, hear, and interact with their surroundings, the product/service you are trying to market will need to be brought into that experience in a connective way.
In an article on storytelling and the metaverse by Venturebeat, it is suggested that instead of simply storytelling, users in the metaverse will be ‘story living.’ Enacting out enthralling, life like lives with first person points of view. As though someone goes inside the body of one of their Sims characters and lives for them. It gives people the possibility to have all of the things they’ve ever wanted in a virtual setting. This is a fascinating point of view because it leaves numerous opportunities for a brand to incorporate themselves into the virtual lives of others. To not just tell a story in your marketing, but live it through brand experiences in the metaverse.
6) New Equipment Will Be Required for Digital Marketers to Compete in the Metaverse
Though the metaverse is in its early stages, there are already set devices that can access it. The most common is the Meta Quest VR (also known as Oculus Quest VR), allowing users to enter the metaverse and interact with others. Currently priced at $400 Canadian (plus tax), freelance digital marketers and digital agencies will need to invest in products like Meta Quest VR or others to interact within the metaverse.
So, if a marketing agency is considering upgrading their current equipment, gearing towards the metaverse is the way to go for ensuring they stay ahead of competitors. Though equipment towards the metaverse is not essential to buy at the moment, trends show it will likely become a major role for marketing companies. With that in mind, products aligned in the digital universe will be a worthwhile investment once the metaverse truly kicks off.
7) Investing Towards Marketing Strategies Will Soon Gear Towards the Metaverse
Outside of individual agencies or marketers, brands in need of marketing assistance may consider investing into those willing to help them market in the metaverse. This may birth the creation of a specific marketing company; a metaverse company that’s sole purpose is to establish effective marketing for brands across the virtual universe. While metaverse stocks are already soaring, the marketing channels that brands will eventually use to place their products into the metaverse have not yet been defined. With that in mind, advertisers are already scrambling to control and define how these marketing funnels will play out.
In the same way 92% of marketers use social media to conduct campaigns, this percentage will likely increase to the amount of current marketers allocating their attention to the metaverse. The same way social media usage took over traditional marketing trends over a decade ago.
8) Digital Marketers Will Begin to Live in A Mixed Reality
Currently, a majority of digital marketers work around 8 hours per work day. As the metaverse blooms, and digital marketers begin attending VR work meetings, they will begin to live in a mixed reality. Outside of their work lives, they can enjoy the natural world and face-to-face interactions. But through the metaverse, which will likely correlate with many digital marketers’ projects in a matter of a few years, will be dominated by the virtual universe.
Which poses an important question, are digital marketers comfortable with this shift in VR workspaces? Many could be, because it offers numerous opportunities in terms of partnerships and creative advertising projects directly placed in the user’s experience (discussed in #4). Some however, may find themselves torn between wanting to exist, and work in the real world, or push forward to the metaverse for the sake of business matters. To give a taste at what the day-to-day work life may be like in the metaverse, here is a video of a woman who spent 24 hours existing within the early stages of it:
9) NFTs are Creating New Marketing Opportunities Within the Metaverse
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are non-replaceable digital items transacted on a blockchain (primarily the Ethereum blockchain) that records online transactions. Blockchains verify how much has been paid and what each person owns from those payments, because the transactions are public. Since non-fungible means there are no other versions of the token, many steps have been placed to ensure the tokens remain singular and unique. This includes the infamous burning of a real-life Banksy painting in order to make the NFT version the only one to exist.
Many have been put off by the creation of non-fungible tokens. Some may think: “Why do these exist? They are pointless. Why are they burning a real painting in order for the digital version to be the only to exist? Why are people investing in these?” These are fair judgements, the creation of NFTs are certainly disruptive to the way we view media. It’s worth noting that NFTs act as pieces of media ownership. The same way an art collector spends millions on original paintings, NFT collectors find individual content that can be theirs, and theirs alone.
An example of this is the NBA selling Top Shot Reels to those who want to own the pieces of media. While these reels are selling for thousands, only lasting for seconds, and already widely viewable across the internet, is the NFT process that different from the trends humanity already follows in their buying habits? The art world is based around people deciding what specific paintings meet a certain standard of greatness, which is then sold for millions. The only difference between the traditional art world process and NFTs, is that the NFTs take place in a virtual landscape, with more users to trade throughout the blockchain.
NFTs are definitely ‘hype’ at the moment, which may cause marketers to jump at this newfound opportunity of digital promotion. Whether it be through helping NFT creators find a voice amidst the influx of NFT galleries currently competing for dominance. Or to experiment with new forms of NFT marketing, the digital marketing involved with non-fungible tokens remains an open and surging field.
10) Digital Marketers Will Begin Gearing Away From Social Media Marketing
As companies like Meta redefine themselves away from the traditional social media channels that made them successful, it will not be uncommon to see digital marketers doing the same. Though companies like Meta will integrate their traditional social media channels with the metaverse, forms of social media will still exist in the way they currently do. So, while digital marketers will still use social media marketing tactics, it won’t be as heightened or sought-after as it currently has been the past five years. The same way marketers shifted a majority of their focus from traditional marketing to social media marketing channels, beginning in the mid 2000’s.
11) Digital Marketers Will Be in A Free-for-all to Establish Dominance in Virtual Spaces
Metaverse platform creators are already in a fight for dominance to establish themselves as the metaverse platform. Once that platform is established, the same tension for dominance will occur for the many digital agencies reeling in marketing campaigns via the metaverse. A Wild West era for the metaverse may occur. Virtual spaces could be popularized or forgotten, new trends will possibly emerge, and a reconditioning for new marketing strategies will be played throughout.
12) The Metaverse Will Change the Idea of Marketing Altogether
In 2012, digital marketing had grown past being nearly a niche promotional tactic, but was still not nearly as advanced or popularized as it is today. The simplistic Instagram business accounts using hashtags to reach potential customers, a more developed Facebook beginning to see how Facebook Users’ interests are the core way of creating effective advertising. The blueprints of social media marketing were partially in place, but it was still innocent and largely unaware of how to utilize data effectively.
As we move into 2022, many years still ahead before reaching a new decade, there is much to be discovered in terms of what marketing means to us all. The metaverse will place us in a virtual physical space, digital products will not just be digital, but full-blown experiences. As discussed throughout this article, the marketing that will occur will aim directly at blending in with user experience. Whether digital marketers like it or not, the metaverse is coming in full swing and has no intention of slowing down.
Newer forms of marketing will take over the current trends, and marketing itself will be redefined by the technologies that surround it. Will marketers like this new age of marketing? Will the world see a halt in marketing jobs, to those tiresome of the metaverse lifestyle? Or will the opposite occur, marketing will become even more crucial and positively viewed for the importance it plays in having companies being seen and heard? Only time will tell... Oh, and a lot of data predictions.