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Metaverse: Impact and Implications for Brands

Part two of the three-part series by Publicis Media covers what the Metaverse means to brands and the various opportunities that come with it

In the first part of the series by Publicis Media, we explored the meaning of Metaverse, the various technological advancements that go with it and will help in building the Metaverse, and what some of the key players are currently doing. 

In this second part, we will be exploring what the Metaverse means to brands and the various opportunities that come with it.

Opportunities, Roadmap and Roles of Creative and Media 

We’ve seen how important the concept of identity is for users in the Metaverse. So how brands connect with consumers, present their products, and create the experiences needed for players and users in the Metaverse will be key. 

Before providing hyper-realistic user experiences, creating engaging experiences that draw users in and then the long-term engagement enabled through persistent Metaverse experiences is the key to achieving success. Brands need to establish a strong connection with the consumer to gain their attention, so let’s look at some of the opportunities which are being currently utilized by the brands to do the same.

Currently, there is a range of product and service categories in the market. While Metaverse is likely the future for all, there are certain categories for which Metaverse as a platform is more relevant (Level 1- Most Relevant) than some other categories. In fact, some of these have already witnessed brands creating engagement (eg- H&M, Vans-Virtual store, Nikeland).

(Source: Lifestyleasia.com)

The Opportunity for Brands

The Metaverse has the potential for seamlessly converging our digital and physical lives for an integrated and immersive experience. While it would be a huge leap of faith to expect that Metaverse would replace all our everyday interactions but it is set to become a part of day-to-day interactions and activities for millions of potential users over the next five years and this creates a plethora of opportunities that brands stand to benefit from.

PR-able Opportunities

There’s no denying that brands jumping onto the Metaverse bandwagon are making the most of the initial traction, drawing PR opportunities and greater visibility. In this era of social media, brands constantly need to evolve and engage the audiences the way users like and wherever users are. Hence, having serious intent is key rather than just a one-time effort.

Engagement Opportunities

The concept of brand marketing in Metaverse is based on the fact that it offers deeper interactions, immersive experiences, and opportunities for brands to create a recall value during the virtual journey of a user.

The Five golden rules for building Brand Engagement: -

  1. Choose the relevant moments
  2. Be Present when and where the audiences are
  3. Use the right format and creativity to blend with technology
  4. Immersive ways to connect
  5. Create and improve on User experience

(Source: vans.com)

A few popular examples from the recent past:

  • On the occasion of their100th anniversary, Gucci launched Gucci Gardens in Roblox to provide immersive experiences to users. 
  • Vans launched a Vans skateboarding Metaverse playground inside the game with Vans World in which players can only play while wearing a digital pair of Vans shoes. 
  • H&M opened its virtual store for the Metaverse in which people can buy clothes they want to wear in the digital environment.

All these activities give an idea of initiatives that brands can perform in order to improve the user experience. Brands need to engage their audience to keep them connected and also continually evolve, encouraging users to keep utilising new digital opportunities. Brands also need to look at the audience they want to target and only on the basis of that, brands must make their decisions to invest in any particular Metaverse. 

For example

  • Fortnite is majorly dominated by the people of age group between 18 to 24.
  • Roblox is played by relatively younger people i.e., nearly 2/3rd of Roblox crowd is under the age of 16.
  • On the other hand, Sandbox is played by users of both age groups mentioned above but it is majorly dominated by males with a total concentration of 84%.
  • ‘Animal Crossing’ is more popular among female players than their male counterparts.

Brands need to consider these demographic factors while considering their investment decisions.

Another key aspect worth taking note of is the role of influencers – from how realistic their avatars are, their influence in the Metaverse to creating a lot of excitement in the space.

Revenue Opportunities  

The Metaverse is also leading the way in developing new and innovative streams of revenue for brands. Some of the potential opportunities include:

  • Creating and owning various unique digital formats such as NFTs, Real estate etc
  • Setting up stores in the Metaverse
  • Making product categories available for the users’ avatars in the Metaverse
  • Influencer and owned content
  • Sponsoring and/or organising events in the Metaverse
  • Influencing real-world purchase by launching Virtual versions earlier

A few of the examples are:

  • Luxury brands have found a way to tap their consumers—through collectibles and NFTs.

Gucci collaborated with Roblox and started to sell digital bags and rare Gucci items that were more expensive than the physical ones. This activity helped the brand build an online presence and generated revenue

  • Coca-Cola launched an NFT collection that fetched $575,000 in an online auction. 
  • Nike has filed a detailed document with the US Government stating its plan for ‘cryptographically secured digital assets’, Digital footprints that can signify the ownership of their digital pair of shoes. 

(Source: www.coca-colacompany.com)

A likely roadmap for Brands 

Phase 1

Prepare for the Metaverse Journey post by first taking the above factors into consideration.

 

Phase 1 for the Metaverse constitutes a) the creation of Avatars (or the brand digital twin) and b) setting up a process for the creator infrastructure. There are many brands that are making the use of ‘low hanging fruits’ of the PR able opportunity that lip service is done to the elements that matter.

 

As per Tom Mizzone, CEO of Sweet, a scalable NFT platform, there’s an obvious PR angle to brands launching campaigns with tech that feels novel and exciting. but the warning is that brands should focus less on PR and do something that is meaningful for their brands in the space.

 

Phase 2

Integrating the Brand— From a branding point of view, virtual platforms provide new and entertaining ways to engage with consumers. Tim Sweeney contrasted the ads on platforms such as Google or Facebook with the more game-oriented, immersive experiences on the Metaverse and said, “A carmaker who wants to make a presence in the Metaverse isn’t going to run ads. They’re going to drop their car into the virtual world in real-time and you’ll be able to drive it around. Brands have recreated their services or built branded characters or arenas within games”. Examples include: 
 

  • DBS bank has recreated Singapore’s iconic Zouk nightclub in Fortnite renaming it the ‘Live Fresh Club’ to advertise its credit card of the same name. 
     
  • P&G’s brand Venus created more realistic skin types for avatars in Animal Crossing featuring freckles, acne, cellulite, stretch marks and psoriasis as part of its 'My Skin, My Way' inclusive campaign.
     
  • Unilever's mayonnaise brand Hellmann’s created a branded island in Animal Crossing.
     
  • Gucci released digital collections of its signature clothes and goods in Roblox, with avatar creator Zepeto, and Giphy.

 

Brand presence through the Metaverse can be created by using storefronts and service availability. Setting the payments infrastructure and NFT integration is key. Examples are H&M’s first store in the Metaverse which offered customers a virtual shopping experience and Nike acquired RTFKT which creates virtual sneakers and collectibles for the metaverse. 

Role of Creative

Since there is no proper framework of governance in the Metaverse right now, nothing can be said about the creative liberty given to brands. It is well understood that to engage their audience, brands might have to introduce something that is out of their core competency, but it needs to be done with the incorporation of the company’s core theme in it. 

Metaverse presents brands with the opportunity to experiment and also discover and utilise immersive ways of connecting- so audiences aren’t just consuming the brand’s content but are an active part of it. Eg - Vans is offering its customer a place where they can hang out and play with their friends in the digital space which is not their core competency but the brand has incorporated a way in which they can get the attention of their customers. This form of gamification by brands can provide them with new and entertaining ways to engage their customers. Brands also need to keep experimenting with something new within their boundaries and drive higher-order creativity to engage their audience.

Way Ahead

In terms of technological advancements, we’re still not ready to create a fully functioning Metaverse but that does not mean that we’re very far away. In terms of technological requirements, Metaverse requires an advanced level of artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality- their integrated version called extended reality, advanced IoT technology, and high-tech human-computer interface to become a fully functional reality. The technology that is hardest to achieve right now is the proper integration of augmented reality and virtual reality in our wearables like glasses and gloves, which are useful to make the concept more immersive and engaging.  

Summarising 5 key points from the above:

  • Check the criticality of being on the Metaverse from your category/Target audience fit.  (refer the classification of the level at the start of the doc/ evolve one at your end)
  • Go beyond the “PR’able opportunity” syndrome and focus on potential engagement and revenue opportunities
  • From a roadmap point, audit your infrastructure ecosystem – both hardware/software and people and see areas to ramp up.
  • Up the creative ante given the boundaries, your brand plays in. Be sure to have creative technologists in your brand ecosystem.
  • Have a test and learn mindset. This is virgin territory and things will evolve given no fixed set of rules.

This module has been developed by Rajiv Gopinath and Ayushi Sharma from Publicis Media. So, if you are ready to make your brand future-ready, connect with them at Publicis Media to help take your brand to the next level!

Email: rajiv.gopinath@publicismedia.comAyushi.sharma@publicismedia.com

In this three-part series, the two will look at the current state of play, the opportunities for brands and how they can equip themselves to make the most of the future opportunities

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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