Over recent years, the term “metaverse” has become firmly ingrained in the consciousness of the public. The ubiquitous virtual world made up of interconnected digital services holds great promise for brands and the creator economy, but the metaverse is uncharted territory, and various strategies will be required to maximize the impact of branded campaigns.
These are our top 5 tips for brands that are looking to enter the metaverse.
Choose A Platform That Suits Your Needs Best
One factor brands must consider is which metaverse platform they want to engage with. At present, there is no single dominant ecosystem, since the idea of a wider metaverse is to have a range of interoperable virtual worlds. That being said, some metaverses are more popular than others, and many of these worlds offer services that are tailored to a specific type of content.
Take, for example, two of the more prominent metaverse platforms out there, Decentraland and The Sandbox. Both of these are virtual worlds where players can explore, and buy assets (including property and other items common in the real world), engage with games, and create content. However, these platforms come with various different tools and interfaces. The Decentraland platform has a robust gaming engine that supports complex three-dimensional objects and environments, while The Sandbox uses voxel-based graphics akin to Minecraft, resulting in highly stylized but fairly blocky visuals. This makes The Sandbox more attractive for certain types of users (e.g., younger gamers). On the other hand, Decentraland has an edge when it comes to displaying things like 3D art and fashion.
Brands should think carefully about the presentation, demographic, popularity, and functionality of a given metaverse platform to ensure it aligns with what the organization is trying to achieve. If a hyper-real visual representation of physical clothing is the aim, they might want to avoid platforms with voxel-based graphics like The Sandbox that might warp designs more. Meanwhile, Decentraland offers the graphical precision to recreate real-world items in a way that could preserve what makes them attractive.
In late March, Decentraland hosted the first Metaverse Fashion Week featuring fashion shows and other promotional activities, with brands presenting 3D recreations of purchasable real-world products.
There are many other platforms and campaigns that can be explored, all of them with their own pros and cons. They can be focused on sports, entertainment, gaming, or culture, but what is important is to build brand-focused experiences on specific metaverse platforms that cater to the relevant demographics in order to maximize engagement and adoption.
Choose The Right Location
While a brand’s “geographical” location in the metaverse is not as crucial as in the physical world, it is still important to choose the right spot for its specific needs. Since users can freely and instantly teleport around virtual zones, another key aspect comes to the forefront — who are your potential “neighbors”?
Positioning your brand in high-traffic areas or near established popular attractions means that many more users may notice it while passing by. Just like in the real estate business in the real world, close proximity to affluent areas and projects will drive up the prices of adjacent properties, which makes your lot more valuable and attractive. This is similar to strategies in the real world that see businesses pop up around successful pre-existing operations, including their direct competitors. It may also be possible to host advertisements such as posters or billboards near busy spots as the next best thing. A sign could act as a teleport link in the metaverse, so this offers a reasonably convenient way to grab the user’s attention.
These types of moves have already started to happen. Someone recently paid $450,000 to purchase a plot of land next to Snoop Dogg’s mansion in The Sandbox. While it isn’t clear exactly what this land would be used for, it showcases how much people will likely converge in specific areas of the metaverse.
Build A Business, Not Just A Presence
Users won’t be interested if your brand’s virtual property just “stands there”, no matter how luxurious it may look or how expensive the plot of land it occupies is. To garner the public’s attention, metaverse-based projects should offer potential users attractions they can engage with, and today’s technologies allow for almost any kind of interactive experience.
One of the most appealing ways to entice users is to offer them some kind of interactivity on a platform. Gaming is currently a primary use case in virtual reality, so various decentralized gaming applications serve as a foundation on which the metaverse will expand in the future.
Metaverse platforms also need to offer users activities they can enjoy cooperatively. These may include games, dance floors, virtual museums or movie theaters, storefronts, and auctions for NFTs (non-fungible tokens), and so on.
Brands would naturally want their guests to have as much fun as possible in the metaverse by creating good memories and lasting experiences that could prompt users to come back in the future, and using native tools to monetize those experiences, whether by advertising, NFT sales, or charging for attendance.
Embrace The Potential Of NFTs
Another essential element of branding in the metaverse is how companies will integrate NFTs into their offering. Countless ways to leverage NFTs already exist, and they go well beyond mere collectible images.
Pretty much anything in the metaverse can be an NFT, including land, avatars, and other virtual items and accessories. The vast interconnected virtual space allows digital assets to blossom, acting as the visual “user interface of web3”.
Brands can achieve new heights when building their communities and turn bystanders into active and invested members by launching NFTs tailored specifically for their audiences.
NFTs can be imbued with properties that augment how participants engage with both the metaverse and the real world. For example, purchasing or earning an item may also allow access to new areas or content. NFTs could also act as VIP passes to exclusive events or a means of buying physical merchandise.
Experiment And Learn
For brands, being relevant in this space will involve an in-depth evaluation of how they interact with consumers, and more importantly, an extension of the physical experiences that consumers enjoy across the virtual world. However, this task may not always be straightforward. The conventional playbook businesses refer to for customer acquisition and engagement has now become obsolete. In the metaverse, the rules of engagement are still largely undefined.
It would be wrong to think that the metaverse experience will be constrained to digital space. Instead, brands should expect that their entire online footprint will need to be redesigned with the metaverse as the next evolution of the web. There is not simply one blanket strategy as every company will have a unique set of contributions to future worlds, and also a different appetite for balancing current demands against the future they want to build.
Brands must adopt an experiment-and-learn mindset in the metaverse to create operating models that lead to outcomes. Whether marketing to bots or rewiring employee engagement, the space presents boundless opportunities for experimentation.
The metaverse is ushering in a wave of digital change and offers forward-looking companies an unprecedented opportunity to act boldly and take hold of their future. Companies who want to win big in this space must experiment with all the right pieces and then scale quickly. Anchoring the design of virtual experiences around what consumers need, want, and value, will allow brands to redefine their relevance to consumers.