Digital Transformation Agency Models Brand Strategy

Dear agencies: delete your metaverse presentations immediately

By Troy Hitch | Global Chief Innovation Officer

August 24, 2022 | 8 min read

It is time to stop talking about the metaverse and start working on making it a reality, writes Rapp’s global chief innovation officer Troy Hitch.

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What will the future of the metaverse look like? It’s up to all of us to decide. / Adobe Stock

The metaverse. It’s really nothing more than a spit-and-string concept used to loosely tie together a couple of successful video games and some promising blockchain platforms. That’s not to say that there isn’t a ton of Ready Player One potential there. But let’s get real: in this marketing world – an industry that is built upon hype – the metaverse is the ultimate hypebeast. How do we make tomorrow’s possibility into today’s reality? The metaverse needs you in order to survive.

The following is my action plan to help my agencies, their clients and their consumers make hay today in the metaverse. It can help you, too, so I’ve written it in second-person imperative as a kick in the pants to get you started.

Stop making metaverse presentations right now

Close that PowerPoint with the Matthew Ball summary slide you ’borrowed’ from another agency’s pitch deck. Delete those stock photos that you found of Gen Zers in VR headsets reaching thoughtfully into the void. Cancel that metaverse 101 Teams meeting. Do it. Right now. No one needs to see another ’What is the metaverse?’ presentation.

We need to stop talking about the metaverse and to start doing the metaverse.

Get in and stay in

’Doing the metaverse’ means we have to actually go into the metaverse. Hey, look: you’re the one who keeps talking about it. You brought that Roblox idea to your client. Did you run around Roblox delivering pizzas in Brookhaven before that pitch? How many degenerate poker players have you talked to in Decentraland? How many times have you watched the Foo Fighters concert in your Quest 2 headset? Probably not enough times.

We need to be there for two critical reasons. First, we must thoroughly understand each space in order to take advantage of everything it has to offer before we can deliver meaningful results for our clients. We’re too passive. We’re waiting for the metaverse to actually arrive. But, the harsh reality is that maybe it already has. Maybe this is the metaverse. Open alphas and land deed minting disasters and Fortnite skins and unpopulated virtual NFT art galleries. If this is all it is, let’s make magic while there’s still daylight.

Secondly, if we aren’t there, then who will be? If we believe that the metaverse is truly something special, then we should be in there building it, growing it, believing in it and showing our clients what’s possible.

Experiment ruthlessly

It’s not as daunting as it seems. We can start small: host client meetings in Meta Workrooms (it’s unbelievably cool.) or lower-friction alternatives like Showboat. The simple act of moving from Teams or Zoom to a slightly more immersive virtual space could be game-changing.

Next, set up camp and start making things. Little things. Play around with Meta Horizon Worlds design mode. Create an item in Sandbox’s VoxEdit. Build an ’obby’ in Roblox. They’re all free, fun and (relatively) easy.

Feeling comfortable making stuff? Good. Now move your ideation process into the space. Get your creatives and strategists in there with your production artists and technologists. Rent some land in Decentraland (it’s as little as a couple hundred bucks for a few weeks) or create a free Roblox space and make a skunkworks lab. Then invite your client to pop in and see what you’re up to.

Spread your bets

When the hype wears off, the dust settles and consumers sink into the places where real value exchange is happening, today’s roster of metaverse players may look very different. And compared to previous marketing innovation cycles, the metaverse platform survival rate will be far more brutal for newcomers and niche players. The consumer’s cost of entry into a virtual world is higher - even for the lower-friction browser-based options - than most social sites and apps, and attracting, acquiring and retaining users will be far more challenging.

It doesn’t make sense to double down on a particular platform until we have a sense of where the metaverse will lay down its roots. Some platforms will be better fits than others, of course, but technology will advance, features will evolve, and audiences will change as they grow. We can help our brands by planting seeds across a variety of destinations.

While the ultimate goal of universal interoperability is not even close to reality today, the reusability of metaverse brand assets across platforms is. Platforms like Roblox and Decentraland, for instance, offer builders the ability to import 3D assets in standard file formats, like .fbx and .glb, which means agencies can easily leverage existing brand assets and create new ones in a centralized workflow for use across a variety of metaverse endpoints.

Investing in multiple metaverse worlds gives your brand’s experience a far greater chance of succeeding and a certain degree of future-proofing for what lies ahead.

And what lies ahead, you might ask? That’s up to you. You are the innovators, the vanguard of cool, the arbiters of a better world for brands and their consumers. Stop talking about it and go make the metaverse.

Troy Hitch is global chief innovation officer at Rapp Worldwide.

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