Metaverse is a buzzword that will be here for a while. But as we look into 2023, any brands experimenting in this space must be clear on what metrics they want to measure from the get go, says Essence Globals Aishal Iqbal. This article is republished with permission from Essence.

“Will I be able to hang it anywhere, like on the wall in my office?” asked an incredibly smart and accomplished tech investment banker. We were talking about the NFT boom, trying to make sense of the phenomenon known as the Bored Ape Yacht Club.

This conversation showed me there are many intelligent people who are still confused by NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and the metaverse in general. Anytime there is an advancement in technology, it takes some time to fully grasp what has changed and how. This particular leap seems a little harder for marketers to wrap their heads around compared to previous ones. Online publications, social media, and streaming video, were evolutions of familiar media. The metaverse? Not so much.

It’s true that good marketers stay in touch with changing consumer behaviors and extraordinary marketers influence them. Faced with an unknown and unproven proposition, marketers have a choice: They can sit back and see how it plays out or they can get an early jump on what may be the next massive technology shift – even if some critics are warning it might be an “an insidious threat to society and even reality itself.”

For those who have weighed the pros and cons and want to proceed with experimentation, another challenge arises: How do you measure the effectiveness of your experiments in the metaverse? The first thing to do is ask yourself the right questions.

Why has your marketing organization decided to delve into the metaverse?

There’s a growing chorus urging marketers to launch activations in the metaverse to get the first-movers advantage, start reaching younger consumers, or to just start experimenting with the “shiny new toy.”

Whatever the reason, it's important to understand what your company’s intentions are because this will decide the kind of measurement strategy and infrastructure needed.

For would-be first-movers. There may be no immediate need to create new metrics to measure ROI of the dollars being invested. The ways you’ve measured PR success in the past – including news mentions, exec profiles, social-media buzz – is likely to work here. If these initial activations are successful and your company wants to proceed with more investment, then you’ll have to start the real work of creating an effective measurement strategy.

For those wanting to reach the younger consumer. The virtual-first consumer, most likely from the Gen-Z audience (or younger), is one who has developed fluency with virtual worlds and will likely expect a seamless interchange of utility and benefits across virtual and physical spaces. While this audience is even more skeptical of and less loyal to brands than previous generations, they are more willing to share their data online given their positive view on technology.

Community building as part of the metaverse experience will be important for this group, so things that you might have previously written off as “vanity” metrics will play a big role. Think along the lines of number of members, commitment of contributors, and social media outreach. These are a particularly important part of the DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) assessment process. (DAO is one of many new terms you’ll have to learn. DAOs are essentially a group of individuals that work towards a social mission and any value created in the process is shared amongst them.)

For those wanting to learn through experimentation. The real work here will be developing a learning framework. This should be a guide to help you understand what it is that the organization wants to learn at a macro level, how these lessons will be applied, and how to pivot from original plans when certain experiments take you down a different path.

There is cutting-edge technology powering the immersive metaverse experiences. Blockchain, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI), are just a few. All of these are going to require a new approach. The blockchain may offer new ways of connecting with consumers, but it may also mean marketers may have less control over the consumer journey. AR and VR devices might churn out massive amounts of new experience-based data, but marketers will have to figure out a way to store, cleanse, and analyze it. Put another way, data and analytics teams will have to rethink their current data infrastructure while finding ways to measure effectiveness using data from new sources like haptic technology.

The million bitcoin question

There are more questions that should be considered. For example, should marketers be assessing the impact of physical and virtual-world marketing holistically or treating them as separate experiences altogether? This is simply a place for us to start thinking about the metaverse from an analytical perspective.

But to even begin to answer such questions, you’ll need to do three things:

  • Give analytics a seat at the table.
  • Hire the right people to translate data from current marketing efforts into actionable business outcomes.
  • Employ the right technology to help enable the right people to do this work.

If even one of the above scenarios is missing, then it's probably a better investment to do that work before pouring huge sums into the metaverse. And strengthening your data management, analytics, and governance foundation will pay dividends for all marketing efforts in the future.

There will come a day when your CMO or CFO will ask about the effectiveness of their metaverse marketing efforts. Will your organization be appropriately prepared to deliver this?