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The conceptual rise of the Metaverse, in recent months, reminds me of two moments in HBO’s dystopian series Westworld.

Westworld

In one episode, a beautiful host prompts the guest that we will ultimately know as The Man in Black – “you want to ask, so ask” and he responds “are you real?” To which she says, “well if you can’t tell, does it matter?”

Second, in the season 2 finale of Westworld, Dolores asks Arnold, “What is real?” in a callback to the beginning of Westworld’s second season. He responds: “That which is real is irreplaceable.”

In fact, the entire Westworld series is a philosophical exploration of the nature and truth of reality. What’s real? What’s not?

The core motif behind the Westworld story is that guests come to escape their own perceived reality and play in a virtual world. At the same time, as the imaginary ecosystem of Westworld evolves, hosts seek to escape their virtual world to participate in the “real world”. At the story’s core, this dichotomy of real and virtual, virtual and real, is a future world that might be more than just fiction.

As our real world around us evolves, and our digital and real life experiences inevitably transition to more immersive experiences, it begs the question: what does the Metaverse mean for consumers and marketers?

Many, mostly younger, consumers are already embedded in the Metaverse through gaming and communications platforms. For older consumers, the pandemic accelerated our arrival in the Metaverse. In person meetings turned into video meetings. In person trade shows and events became virtual trade shows and events. Websites, emails, apps, social media platforms, and communication platforms have transitioned from publishing and broadcasting platforms to immersive interactive customer experience platforms.

Consumers are increasingly curious about the Metaverse. In fact, the keyword “Metaverse” yields 677,000 results on Google. The hashtag #metaverse is widely appeared on more than 60,000 posts on Instagram and is tweeted more than 500 times an hour on Twitter. [1]

If marketers can determine the level of intensity and efficacy consumers can experience through both “real” world engagements and interactions with brands and products in a “virtual” world, the Metaverse is potentially a catalyst to create immersive and comprehensive communications.

Solving this puzzle won’t come without a lot of effort. The Metaverse is nascent. It’s evolving quickly. The marketers that succeed with the Metaverse will be highly adaptive, adroit, and quick to respond to changes.

As with the rapid adoption and acceptance of smartphones and tablets, it seems like consumers and marketers are destined for a new world that includes a Metaverse, and with it a new set of challenges and opportunities. Before you say, is it too early, remember to always follow the money.

Several mega tech companies have already bet big on the Metaverse. Facebook has taken the most radical step by quite literally branding itself as a “Metaverse company.” They’re so enraptured with the idea that they are spending $10 billion on the transition. Capital markets have created focused funds to support investment in the Metaverse space including investments in companies like Nvidia and Roblex. Microsoft is launching what they call the “enterprise Metaverse.” And, Epic Games raised $1B to support metaverse ambitions. [2]

Several brands are also experimenting with immersive experiences for consumers. In November, NASCAR will kick off a multi-year plan to get its brand in front of young gamers on Roblox. Brands like Warner Bros, Hyundai, and Gucci have already built their own virtual worlds. Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, and Crockpot are tiptoeing into the space by selling NFTs. Sephora, Nike, and HBO are leaning into AR and VR experiences.

“Every brand and company will need a metaverse strategy,” Cathy Hackl, Chief Metaverse Officer and CEO of Metaverse-focused consulting agency Futures Intelligence Group, tells The Current. Hackl, who recently worked with Clinique to develop the brand’s first NFTs which unlock early access to in-demand products, says that being part of the Metaverse will become brands’ calling cards similar to how social media profiles and websites work today. [3]

It’s hard to say, with any accuracy, what the Metaverse will ultimately mean for consumers, brands, and marketers. It would be a huge mistake, though, to dismiss the concept as whimsical and not fully-baked. One thing that is clear: the Metaverse is coming and it means radical changes in the way we all capture the attention of, and interact with, consumers.

 

Follow Me at and my LinkedIn Page https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesrobertsslc

 


[ 1 ] Influencer MarketingHub, A Deep Dive into Metaverse Marketing, Geri Mileva, January 21, 2022
[ 2 ] Martel Alliance, WTF is the Metavers, and What Does it Mean for Marketers?, Sara O’Neill, August 16,
2021
[ 3 ] TheTradeDesk, The Metavers – How brands are boldly embracing marketing’s new frontier, October 28, 2021