Navigating through the metaverse hype
What is the estimated value of the metaverse by 2030? Numbers are as varied as darts on a dartboard, thrown by analysts scrying a nebulous future. $750bn, says Frost & Sullivan; $5tn, says McKinsey; $13tn, says Citi. All three may be right or wrong, focusing on particular economic models, technological developments, and consumer appetites.
No matter the true figure, marketeers have an opportunity to tap into a multi-billion dollar opportunity – perhaps even a multi-trillion dollar one. The burgeoning rise in NFTs, blockchain technologies and metaverse platforms presents a new avenue of opportunity for keen-eyed professionals. The swell of VC finances (despite the bear market) supports a vibrant community that wants to reach new customers, businesses, and audiences.
The opportunity is bright, though perhaps too wide. The metaverse is still undefined, and filling the gap is a swirling mass of services, activities, and fraud. Marketeers who wish to sail through the turbulent waters need a suite of tools to help chart their way. Here are three to keep in mind.
Are you sure you can contribute to metaverse discussions?
The core of marketing should have authenticity, matching the values of the brand. All activities must contribute towards a clear goal, or a clear message. The metaverse is a prime opportunity for some companies, that have a genuine contribution to the discussions. The Sandbox can contribute, because it runs its own metaverse platform. Ethereum can contribute, because it is the core blockchain for many applications. Nike can contribute, because it runs one of the most successful metaverse activations via Roblox.
Anything that deviates from it is easy to label as a cynical opportunity to make money, or hop on a bandwagon. I’ve seen fridge companies who requested metaverse strategies – an irrelevant focus considering the young state of metaverse platforms. Minecraft recently announced that it will never implement or support blockchain technologies, as artificial scarcity impeaches the open spirit of its platform. A bold announcement, but a fair one that matches its core values. Marketeers need to have the same conversations before stepping into new virtual worlds.
Always plan for the long-term
With a new trend, companies tend to pull tactical activities rather than solidify a long-term strategy. Companies drop NFTs as of when, and do not support them over the long term. Logan Paul created a raft of NFTs, pulling from stock imagery to create quick assets. The project is considered a failure, as a run-then-jump scheme where he tapped a trend and sold it to his young audience.
Other projects are better supported. Yuga Labs created Otherside – a metaverse platform – with incentives to hold land and for users to regularly visit its space. The value of Otherside can fluctuate depending on the worth of the space, but the key here is that it is designed to last as long as possible for users who invest in the project. Compare this to brief drops of NFTs which are then not supported afterwards.
Good planning also allies the community for future projects, too. When skateboarder Tony Hawk collaborated with The Sandbox, he also launched a collection of NFTs that feature the outfit he wore in 1999, when he did the world’s first 900 while skateboarding. Such care and attention for his audience tend to return in kind over time.
Match the language of your audience
The metaverse is already confusing enough. A recent survey from Billion Dollar Boy showed that a scant 22% of UK respondents can confidently define the metaverse. A yawning gap exists between the noise and interest in spatial computing – and marketeers need to plug it to reach potential customers effectively. That messaging can go beyond vague terms, to more concrete nouns and verbs. ‘A music metaverse platform’ will not have much cut-through for casual music fans because it does not connect them to the core experience. The metaverse is still vague and difficult to picture. But come that to ‘an immersive way to share music with friends,’ and a visit picture is painted for them to understand. Buzzwords are not necessary for effective communication.
Clear messaging needs to be tested outside the boardroom, too. Marketing teams tend to use words like ‘influencers,’ ‘virtual reality,’ and ‘web3’ as matter-of-fact descriptors that are innately clear. Not so. No fan of a YouTube creator would call them an influencer; few have tried genuine 6DoF VR over Google Cardboard; and web3 is almost as murky as the metaverse. Test the messaging with the ideal customer, and do not be afraid to whittle the words to a final version. Even if it’s not as topical, it will have a better cut-through with the people who want to reach it.
Reaching 2030 with a few bruises
Marketeers have a golden opportunity to leverage immersive experiences and the metaverse for their own goals, and stand to make a huge impact. But for a genuinely successful campaign, all professionals must have a rigidly customer-focused approach that supports them over years, not days. Learning spatial tools like Unity can help to create immersive new worlds, or Solidity to develop innovative smart contracts. No matter the estimate, the worth of the future is measurable in billions or trillions of dollars. But marketeers will not see a single cent unless they approach the future with an authentic heart and a steady head.
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