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08 September 2022
The metaverse as iPhone 1
There’s a degree of cynicism in some quarters about the metaverse, which has arguably been overhyped, but brands need to think of 2022 as being akin to 2007 and the launch of the iPhone: it’s the beginning of the change, not the change itself.
So says Ian Edwards, Global Connections Planning Director at Meta. And remember, he adds, there’s more to the metaverse than just virtual reality. “There will be lots of different interconnected experiences that can be accessed by lots of different devices and accessed with anyone, anywhere,” he told an online event hosted by Instagram.
What it means
“There is significant room for improvement in how we currently connect to our devices,” Edwards says: the future he holds out is one where instead of standing and staring down at our phones, we’ll be able to look up and step into an immersive world. “The implications are going to be profound and impact and touch almost every aspect of our lives.”
Inter-operability will be core to scaling the metaverse and that will eventually lead to, in Edwards’ example, someone in a virtual space being able to play table tennis with someone in the real world.
Where the metaverse is heading
Experiential marketing at scale. Already brands are translating the physical world into the virtual (e.g. fashion brands) and widespread adoption of the metaverse is likely to transform experiential marketing thanks to the ability to provide experiences at scale at a greatly reduced cost.
The building of community. The metaverse is inherently social and brands will be able to bring their communities together in novel ways (e.g. Wendy's basketball-themed execution for March Madness in the US).
Practical use of AR. Augmented reality is putting brands in people's lives in new ways – think Made.com and IKEA enabling people to see what furniture will look like in their own homes before buying. Edwards claims that such efforts can have a significant impact on metrics like consideration as well as driving conversion and sales.
The creation of intangible products. People can already purchase products from brands that they can wear on their avatars. They can also purchase NFTs that will increasingly give them access to exclusive experiences.
The big idea
While we’re still a decade or more away from any fully realised vision of the metaverse, some of what is being done today will persist.
Brands need to start thinking now about how they can experiment with this new environment and the creators they might partner with and to imagine the possibilities for their business.