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The storytelling makeover: metaverse, immersive and the multitude of possibilities

By Paul Sigaloff |

January 19, 2022 | 7 min read

With all eyes and ears on the metaverse in 2022, Yahoo’s Paul Sigaloff explains how marketers can get the most out of it as part of The Drum’s Metaverse Deep Dive.

selfridges metaverse

Selfridges came together with fashion designer Charli Cohen and Yahoo Creative Studios to launch Electric/City

This year, the metaverse made headlines around the world as the next web frontier, a new playground for brands worldwide to push the boundaries of immersive digital storytelling. Yet as an industry, we’ve only just scratched the surface.

As 5G rolls out in Southeast Asia, the speed of lightning-fast networks will enable marketers to create interactive digital worlds that can evolve in real-time. Storytelling as we know it is set for a serious makeover, bound only by our imagination.

But with so much talk about the metaverse, few understand the tangible opportunities that lie within it. Here are some ways marketers can capture consumers in this new digital world tomorrow:

See, try, buy

As digital technologies advance, underpinned by 5G capabilities, we will soon see novel experiences becoming the norm for consumer engagement. For now, it’s still possible to explore creative applications. A great example is WebAR, which lets users experience Augmented Reality (AR) over desktop or mobile without a tedious setup, hardware or even an app download. Shoppers can virtually stage furniture pieces in their own spaces, or even try on products like jewelry, glasses or clothes using just their smartphone.

Leveraging AR-enabled commerce and virtual try-ons makes it easier for shoppers and builds confidence in their purchase decisions. The real key to successfully holding their attention is weaving in a surprising experience and amping up the fun.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pokémon, Selfridges in London came together with fashion designer Charli Cohen and Yahoo Creative Studios to launch Electric/City, a first-of-its-kind immersive shopping experience. The digital environment enabled fans to discover the designer’s collections through a 360-degree video experience, and shoppers could explore a ’cyberpunk’ take on fashion capitals worldwide. Meshing on-ground and virtual promotions, fans could create their own avatars with the garments to view in AR and share socially. This ’brandiverse’ brought together a hybrid of emerging technologies that created immersive brand experiences at scale.

Multi-dimensional worlds

New tech advancements are constantly unlocking new ways of creative storytelling. Real-time animations across facial tracking, computer graphics animation, motion capture and volumetric capture, for example, are now enabling photographers and filmmakers to render work in 3D or AR in real-time.

This means you can now invite a celebrity off the red carpet and into a person’s home through a hologram activation, with volumetric capture allowing for a fully interactive, three-dimensional virtual experience.

An example by Verizon shows how cutting-edge ‘emotion reading’ technology can power interactive storytelling. By creating short films with branching narratives that adapted based on the viewer’s reactions, ultimately it was the emotions on a viewer’s face that determined the story that they saw.

Immersive storytelling lets consumers transition from ‘observation’ to ‘experience’, quite literally helping them walk in another’s shoes to gain perspective and empathy. For brand storytellers, it unlocks a way to forge deeper connections with consumers. Especially now, when consumers want to know and understand brand purpose and how a brand’s values align with their own, immersive experiences that build a shared experience can strengthen the bond between consumer and brand.

Are you game?

There’s plenty more that can fit into the marketer’s immersive storytelling toolkit. Gamified activations, for instance, not only lets brands create fun, richer experiences and opportunities to connect, it also allows them to capitalize on the rapidly rising interest in gaming in Southeast Asia.

Doritos, for example, developed a widely successful AR game that used gaming as a passion point in the Philippines. The gamified AR activation reached maximum capacity ahead of registration close as Filipinos played and hunted for virtual Doritos within their vicinity to win a PlayStation 5 console and other prizes. This fun and immersive experience not only entertained consumers, it brought them closer to the brand in a unique and engaging way.

Brands can also use these game techniques to replicate the real world to solve a problem. When lockdowns in Australia restricted travel, Tourism Australia created a multi-sensory experience that transported viewers to beautiful areas across the country. Through stunning visuals and 8D sounds, users were able to visit new and inspiring environments from the comfort of their homes.

Keeping it real

With more consumers purchasing products online, digital experiences are no longer a good to have, they’re a necessity. In a recent study by Yahoo, 67% of respondents said they were more likely to remember content that used innovative technologies. Consumers want to be able to experience products in a digital world, with 80% of consumers revealing they would like to see a 360-degree view of products before buying.

Next-gen technologies will enable advertisers to not just level up the storytelling experience for consumers, but also rethink the human connections that consumers crave in a more digital world.

The key to succeeding lies in authenticity. Strong, immersive and original storytelling can give your brand a distinct point of view, making each interaction and experience feel fresh and unique. While any brand can explain why they serve a consumer’s needs, it’s how they can make that consumer feel, along with the experience and magic they create, that will spell the difference.

Paul Sigaloff is the vice-president of Yahoo for Australia, New Zealand, India and South East Asia.

For more on the exciting, new opportunities for marketers in this rapidly evolving space, check out The Drum’s Metaverse hub.

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