Once a fantasy, the metaverse is now a very real social and commercial landscape. Web3 is predicted to reach a community of a billion worldwide in the next decade. This is evolving at the intersection of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) and will completely transform the way we live.
It’s also going to revolutionise how brands engage with and add value to consumers. Already a multi-billion dollar space and growing fast, it’s the right time for brands to start exploring the metaverse. There is long-term potential for community building, experiential marketing, and at the end of the day, commercial outcomes.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved if you want to take your brand to the metaverse but don’t know where to start.
Is a metaverse brand strategy for everyone?
Yes. Planning a 100 percent return on any investment in the metaverse at this stage would be incredibly short-sighted. However, you should definitely be getting your head around a brand’s place within Web3.
As with conventional brand marketing, strategy is essential. Strategy informs what you’re setting out to achieve and highlights any outcomes you want to avoid. A metaverse brand strategy will guide your business through the technology integration and acquisitions required to operate in the metaverse, and (importantly) help you identify where you can add value to Web3 communities.
Not every brand is going to produce a prized Blue Chip NFT. Not every brand will create a sought-after plot of land in the metaverse, or produce an immersive AR experience. But every brand can – and should – be exploring how it might be able to add value to consumers’ experiences.
How will brand marketing change from Web2 to Web3?
I launched Be Media back in 2013 so have witnessed first-hand the digital marketing revolution, from Web1 through to Web2 and now Web3. As each platform evolves, there is inevitably resistance and pushback until the functionality becomes ingrained as an autonomous part of everyday life. The evolutionary shift in the use and application of social media we’ve seen take place over the past decade is a great example.
More recently, COVID lockdowns forced brands to reimagine, sometimes overnight, how to market to their customers. COVID has also transformed the way consumers engaged with brands. As a result, I really believe we’re all now primed for the “new avenues for…profits and brand enhancement beyond the physical [brand]” that the metaverse is creating.
Brand marketing in the Web3 world is less about what you actually do, or make, or sell, and more about what your brand stands for – what extra value you can provide to the community outside of the transactional process. Brands have an opportunity to change the relationship between brands and customers, by giving customers a tangible stake within the company.
Do you need to understand the metaverse to take the next step?
As a business leader, you should commit to understanding what the metaverse is, how communities are formed in this environment, and how value is measured and exchanged.
While the metaverse is currently fragmented and still very much evolving. It’s free to enter, and this ‘virtual world’ will continue to exist and evolve even if you aren’t roaming inside it.
You don’t need to deeply understand the technology, but you should have a basic understanding of some of the new applications and terminology. These include wallets, NFTs, blockchain, crypto, and Discord. Becoming familiar with these will help you understand how they can be used in your business.
What are NFTs, and are they for everyone?
NFTs are non-fungible tokens. It’s a unique, rights-protected digital assets such as “art, photos, files, videos, [even] Tweets.” Anyone can own them. While it’s still early days, they also have a transactional element which is still being explored.
Lots of big-name brands, like McDonalds and Pizza hut and global fashion brands such as Gucci, Nike, and Zara are already experimenting with NFTs and metaverse collaborations. Closer to home, at Be Media by Animoca Brands, we’ve recently partnered with the Australian Football League (AFL), which has some of the most passionate fans in the world. It’s part of a commitment to offering the audience different ways to experience the game. The AFL recently launched the AFL Mint, the official marketplace for fans to collect licensed AFL NFTs. These NFTs are collectors items for the fans, which are designed to be collected and traded, with the rights retained by the AFL.
Ownership of NFTs is recorded in the blockchain and can be transferred, which means they can be sold and traded.
What’s the first thing I should be doing?
Become a Web3 user today. It is “a rare moment for [you] to observe, learn, and ask questions, without running a great risk of missing out” on any significant commercial opportunities.
Begin by framing your metaverse strategy around what value you can bring or add to the community, and what your customers value and consume.
Utilising old-school personas is ideal for a metaverse entry strategy. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What communities are they engaging with? What platforms are they using? Are they spending money in the metaverse? Which like-minded brands are already participating; what are they doing? Are there any creative ways to collaborate with them?
Is Web2 still important?
Yes! As Web3 continues to evolve, Web2 is still essential for business.
But marketing via Web2, which relies on two dimensional social media and mobile, won’t evolve beyond product-centric, campaign-centric marketing.
Web3 marketing will be community-centric. You probably already spend six, eight or 10+ hours a day online already. Imagine that time being a more engaging, immersive experience?
The metaverse is absolutely the next era of the internet, engaging users in a deeper, richer way than Web2. Now is a unique opportunity for brands and marketers to get stuck into this incredible new technology. It will evolve into an infinitely richer, more robust platform than Web2 has been able to achieve. The future is now.
Jordan Fogarty is the CEO and founder of Be Media by Animoca Brands.