Digital Transformation Brand Safety Brand Purpose

How can we make sure the metaverse is ready for mass-market brands?

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By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

August 4, 2022 | 5 min read

The metaverse is an evolution of existing ideas, rather than something new in and of itself; the collision of web3, gaming and social media, served up in a package that is appealing to audiences and the brands that seek to reach them. We’ve seen early success from the likes of Nike and Gucci in that space, but the greater opportunity for the metaverse still lies ahead.

The Vogue Business Metaverse experience, built in Journee

Vogue Business's metaverse experience are beautiful, but are they suitable for mass-market brands? / Vogue Business

Vogue Business has already staked a claim as one of the media brands that understands the potential of metaverse platforms. In March, it held its Vogue Business and Yahoo Metaverse Experience – an event that took place on a virtual island in partnership with Yahoo and Dept.

Speaking of the experience, Kirsty McGregor, the senior European editor at Vogue Business, says that what is possible on metaverse platforms already outstrips audience expectations – particularly when it comes to a luxury metaverse experience.

“The idea was to play around with a relatively elevated experience,” she says. “You could see some of those exhibitions, you could also interact with other visitors. That, for me, was the exciting part; you could go up to someone who was in Italy, but you could interact with them in the virtual world.”

Before we reach that point, however, there are a number of issues that need to be overcome – not least reticence among some creators to leap into a relatively untested marketing world. For Cameron Worth, founder and CEO of Sharpend, the metaverse right now is “a bit lame“. He poses the question: “If brands stop spending money in the metaverse, is it still called ‘the metaverse’ or does it just go back to being ’gaming’?“

Worth says: “Everyone is spending money in the metaverse without understanding web3 culture.” In order to overcome those issues, he believes agencies and brands alike need to set out to solve a problem in a way that could not be done other than with metaverse tools. He notes that with physical retail tech, it is easy to identify pain points and create solutions. For e-commerce within the metaverse, however, he says: “We’re designing for people that don’t yet exist.”

McGregor notes that what will ultimately decide the future of the metaverse is interoperability – the ability for the metaverse platforms to interact with one another and transfer purchases between worlds. For the moment, however, she says that picking a platform often comes down to the KPIs that a brand wants to achieve. While Journee, for instance, is excellent for luxury experiences, she says, Roblox’s cheap and cheerful approach is likely to attract more users.

“In my view, it should be based on who the audience is. Does that chime with your goals as the brand? What are the demographics and what do you want to achieve? The community in the metaverse is so important; you have to be very focused and make sure that anything you’re doing resonates. There are various [interaction-based] metrics you can look at, but picking your platform is really important.”

So while the metaverse is the hype du jour for the luxury market, there is still a lot to be done for more mass-market brands to really engage with the opportunities of the metaverse. For now, we are still in a state of experimentation rather than a matured marketing space.

The Drum has launched The Drum Awards for the Metaverse to recognize those leading in this new frontier. These will celebrate the very best creativity, innovation, people and performance for metaverse, web3 and NFT activations, with expert judges from Journey, Meta and R/GA. Entries are open now, with the first deadline closing on November 17.

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