The metaverse seems to be garnering more and more attention—and fast. Warner Brothers, Hyundai, NASCAR, Gucci, Coca-Cola, Clinique, Anheuser-Busch, and Crockpot.  These major brands are all wading into the waters of this emerging channel to engage with consumers in an entirely new way. Sotheby’s has even created a virtual auction room that mimics their London auction rooms to trade NFTs (non-fungible tokens) for rare virtual items.

But things seem to be shifting outside of the metaverse to welcome this new channel as well. Forbes has introduced a new column with a leading metaverse strategist. What’s more, consumers are increasingly searching for and talking about the metaverse online:

The metaverse is rapidly coming into the collective consumer consciousness—and poses a unique opportunity for brands to connect with their consumers online. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is the Metaverse, Exactly?

“Metaverse” seems to be the latest buzzword in the world of tech, but for many, this broad term can be hard to define just yet. The metaverse is still very much an emerging trend that developers continue to explore. As shared by Business Insider, “The vague term refers to a variety of shared spaces and assets that people can access via the internet, sometimes using virtual reality and augmented reality devices, and interact with each other and buy virtual goods.”

This concept of the metaverse was gaining traction for a time, but certainly was amplified with the announcement of Meta, formerly known as Facebook, in 2021. The brand is investing $10 billion into its newest endeavor, and it’s been reported that Apple, Google, and Microsoft all have similar solutions in the works.

Even Meta executives have varying ideas about what the metaverse means to them, which could potentially make it hard for brands looking to buy media to know what the right next step should be. 

Wired stated that “The term doesn't really refer to any one specific type of technology, but rather a broad shift in how we interact with technology.” It’s all about combining virtual and augmented reality with the real world that can be accessed via a plethora of devices like PCs, gaming consoles, and smartphones. For marketers, this means that the metaverse can help connect with consumers no matter where they are or what device they are using.

This also brings about a rise in a digital economy. Metaverse users can create, buy, and sell virtual goods connected to virtual identities, avatars, and more. When thoughtfully navigated, brands can use this digital economy to their advantage to connect with consumers in a brand new way. 

What the Metaverse Means for Brands and Marketers in 2022 (and Beyond)

What does the introduction of this new digital medium mean for brands looking for opportunities to advertise? It signals a change; a new era that extends beyond more traditional marketing channels with new brand experiences that engage consumers and get them excited about what the brand has to offer. 

AdAge reported that every age group is engaging with newer digital channels from Instagram to Twitch, TikTok, Fortnight, Roblox, and more. Metaverse is the newest—and perhaps one of the most exciting, innovative—platforms to engage with consumers. 

What’s interesting though is that AdAge shared that it’s not just enough to have a digital presence; merely having a presence online won’t cut it. Digital content needs to be “interesting, meaningful, and immersive,” and the metaverse is a perfect channel to accomplish this. Some examples of this include:

With the advent of the metaverse, organizations have an entirely new domain to engage with consumers, conduct business, and increase brand awareness.

So, what opportunities does the metaverse add for brands searching for new channels to engage with consumers? There are two different paths:

  1. The metaverse is one more channel in your arsenal of media opportunities, like a branded mobile app, banner ads, an analytics-enabled website, or a presence on an online social media platform. The metaverse comes fully equipped with marketing attribution so that you can track your progress, understand traffic trends, and make the most of your marketing budget.

  2. You can utilize the metaverse for deeper brand storytelling. Unlike a banner ad that makes a single, quick impression, you can craft more immersive ad experiences that communicate who you are as a brand. 

While it may be tempting for brands to sit back and see what happens with the metaverse before jumping in, now is the time for brands and marketers to adapt and accommodate in this new, changing digital landscape to stay relevant in the metaverse and these new virtual worlds. 

Sephora, Nike, and HBO are all major brands that are expanding into augmented reality and virtual reality experiences. And while Meta has shared that they plan to invest $10 billion in the metaverse, the company is also hiring 10,000 new employees to oversee the large umbrella company that includes Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and all future endeavors. 

Why is this? There are opportunities abound in the metaverse. Roblox alone has over 200 million active users each month, nearly half of which are under 13. WarnerMedia’s Roblox game Wonder Woman: The Themyscira Experience alone has been visited almost 30 million times.

Adapting to Novel Technologies to Thrive in a Changing Market

The metaverse is still very new and may come with some challenges in the coming months and years. It can be challenging to track return-on-investment and requires a great deal of work upfront to be successful. But this is not all that is different from the early days of social media where tracking ad spend was not exactly a precise method.

But as theTradeDesk shared, “being first to the space has its advantages.” Having a long-term strategy in place can connect you to consumers and help build lifetime relationships with them. For example, NASCAR partnered with Roblox and included a digital car that users could test out on Roblox’s standout game, Jailbait. For NASCAR, this puts their brand in front of a whole new generation of users who will grow up knowing their brand thanks to this collaboration with Roblox. 

The NASCAR team knows that this might not show up in their advertising metrics the way that they’ve seen with other digital channels—and that’s okay. They are learning to adapt to this new media channel. As Nick Rend, managing director of gaming and eSports for NASCAR shared, “We are…well aware that brand impact and engagement KPIs aren’t necessarily driven by traditional licensing models in platforms like Roblox. Growth comes from how users interact with, interpret, and incorporate your brand as part of their virtual escapades.”

What Comes Next?

As Fast Company stated, “Marketing has always looked to test innovative platforms, and the metaverse is no different.” After all, a core tenet of marketing is meeting people where they are, and consumers are taking to the virtual world of the metaverse in droves.

The metaverse is now home to millions of users from all over the globe, each with their own unique experiences and stories to share. It's a place where people can be themselves without judgment, and forge relationships with others they may never have had access to otherwise. As technology continues to evolve, so too does the metaverse. 

One of the ways brands are starting to tap into the metaverse is through media planning. By creating interactive ad campaigns that take advantage of the metaverse's unique capabilities, brands can reach a whole new audience with their message. And because the metaverse is constantly growing and evolving, there are always new opportunities to explore.

For over 30 years, we have been at the forefront of new and emerging media technology. Each time we enter this digital ecosystem, we are explorers charting unknown territory. It can be a daunting task to keep up with it all, but that’s what we’re best at. We understand the nuances of human behavior and how to create engaging experiences that keep people coming back for more. Whether it’s exploring strange new worlds or simply socializing with friends, the metaverse has something for everyone. And with MBI by your side, you can tap into all the excitement and potential that this amazing digital realm has to offer. Ready to step into this new, meta world? Connect with the MBI team today!