Unless you’ve been living under a proverbial marketing rock, you’ve probably seen some (or perhaps too many) articles on the metaverse. So many, in fact, that you may be wondering if your brand should jump into the web3 world.
The short answer: Yes . . . and no.
While the metaverse—and the persistent, immersive, three-dimensional experiences it delivers—could change virtually everything about marketing (no pun intended), the concept is still in its infancy. There is no question that what the metaverse looks like in 10 years will be much different than it does today. But if 2022 turns out to be the breakout year some are predicting, now is the time for brands to understand, and perhaps begin to explore this potentially powerful new way for consumers to connect, communicate, and transact.
Here’s why you should think about building your next website in the metaverse:
- Deliver a more consistent UX. Do consumers have the same user experience, whether they use a desktop, laptop, or mobile phone? We’re guessing no. But with the metaverse, they (potentially) will. If it becomes the vast (unwalled) world experts envision, your brand can deliver the same online experience to consumers, no matter what their hardware of choice—from TVs and gaming systems to smartphones and VR headsets.
- Deepen engagement through personalization. The presence of major social media companies like Meta in web3 suggests that eventually brands will be able to mine more meaningful data and gain insights about consumers through their social properties, providing you with the ability to personalize, customize and deliver targeted messaging to their avatars—unlike anything we can currently deliver in the “real” world.
- Another option? Creating nonfungible tokens (NFTs)—digital assets that are the foundation of the metaverse economy. “Smart” NFTs will enable you to provide exclusive perks to existing, high-value customers, or to move prospects further down the conversion funnel.
- Target younger consumers. The metaverse may provide you with the opportunity to reach—and convert—younger targets who are more often the gamers already in, and comfortable with, virtual interaction. Certainly a natural fit for higher education marketers, leveraging the metaverse to reach these younger consumers also may be a smart path for many financial and healthcare brands that often find this segment elusive and unengaged.
- Ensure brand continuity. Synthetic media can enable your brand to maintain consistency in sight and sound from the real world to the virtual one, so consumer interaction (and your brand person) remain essentially the same in both. Tools like computer-generated human speech, and AI-powered 3D digital personas can deliver the “humanized” digital experience and interactivity consumers in the metaverse expect.
And here’s why you should think twice before you do:
- It’s notoriously confusing. While younger consumers may be comfortable with the metaverse, it remains a hazy concept for many people. Industry research shows that nearly half of consumers across age groups “have no idea” what the metaverse is, while about 17 percent say they’re “vaguely familiar” with the concept.
- It’s less than inclusive. Age aside, Web3 simply isn’t attracting the diverse voices that currently make up interactions on the internet—and in the real world: Women make up only 16% of NFT sales, according to one report, and people of color are excluded more widely given most investors and developers are white.
- It’s the wild, wild west. By its very nature, the metaverse and its decentralized virtual world present unprecedented risks to people and businesses. It seems that identity theft is easier in the virtual landscape, and brand safety is currently a constant battle. All brands (especially those in the particularly data-sensitive industries including financial, healthcare and higher ed) must consider how to control access to their digital venues and implement protocols to do so.
- It’s gotta be true to your brand. Most consumers (even those not familiar with web3) can smell a gimmick a mile away. If you’re going to enter the virtual marketplace, do so with a clear understanding of how it will serve as an extension of your brand and enhance the experience of your consumer. And, given the newness of this landscape, be prepared for that experience and how you deliver it to change—continually. If you can’t go with the flow, don’t go at all.
The bottom line
While the metaverse may not be right for your brand right now, it’s certainly worth paying attention. Those that do are likely to be ahead of the curve as the metaverse continues to evolve—at what most believe will be an incredibly rapid pace.
To marketers, the metaverse in 2022 is what social media was a few short decades ago: It offers the potential to connect to targets in new ways, and to deliver more meaningful experiences than ever before. Proceed with caution but proceed nonetheless: Sit on the sidelines too long and your brand risks being left behind. Ready to take the first step? Contact us.