The metaverse may not be top-of-mind for marketers, but the rapidly changing technological landscape will transform marketing in the coming years. Meta has gone all in on virtual reality and developing its metaverse product, Roblox is launching immersive 3D ads while now grossing $2.2 billion annually, and Apple is making serious commitments to putting augmented and mixed reality in everyone’s pocket.
Tech giants aren’t the only ones investing in virtual ecosystems — beauty brands are investing in the metaverse to make virtual shopping more immersive. While it is still early days, the metaverse offers limitless potential for brands to promote their products and services, and with more people spending their time in digital worlds, this is an exciting time for marketers to experiment and explore the possibilities for metaverse marketing.
Metaverse marketing is the promotion of products and services within virtual universes (collectively known as the metaverse). It is all about creating engaging, interactive experiences that align with brand objectives. Just as video content adds a new dimension to social media marketing, metaverse marketing goes one step further by allowing products to be displayed and interacted with in 3D using virtual, AI/augmented, or mixed reality.
Space is no longer a limiting factor in the metaverse, and brands have built fully immersive stores, pop-up events, and even theme parks that can be explored using technology. Without the limits of reality, creativity can flourish, which makes it an exciting tool for standing out and making greater connections with audiences.
While the metaverse is still an emerging technology, it holds potential for marketers in the coming years, so it is worth exploring.
As opposed to traditional marketing, metaverse marketing creates interactive branded experiences using virtual environments. It is much more customizable than any real space, allowing brands to capitalize on big ideas to reach audiences and build loyalty.
The metaverse certainly has a social media aspect, especially as users can interact with one another as they do on Facebook or Instagram. Still, it also offers an element of gamification and fun that social media does not have. Social media is about passive scrolling, while the metaverse is fully interactive and much more similar to video games.
While social media and metaverse marketing aim to engage audiences and build brand awareness, the latter does so through immersion and personalization. Additionally, social media marketing has a much wider reach, while the metaverse is more targeted toward the specific audience of early adopters.
The metaverse opens up a myriad of new, exciting marketing opportunities for brands. However, it is important for brands to research platforms to see if there is alignment between their target audiences. For many, particularly with older generations as their key demographics, it probably does not make sense to be investing in the metaverse right now, while brands with strong appeal with teenagers will find that augmented reality, filters, and QR codes are second nature to this age cohort of digital natives.
Brands can make small steps toward the metaverse by collaborating with virtual influencers, creating branded virtual items, and sponsoring virtual events, which can help them build a presence in the metaverse with lower investment.
Every brand has to start somewhere. The first step to advertising in the Metaverse is to simply build a presence. This can be done by creating an account (depending on the platform) and establishing your business.
Virtual events do not have to be overly complicated. Town halls, product launches, or Q&A sessions can be held in the metaverse, as well as exclusive access to new product launches or sales available only to your customers in the metaverse to build an element of exclusivity.
All of the markers of traditional marketing are also present in the metaverse, including classic billboards. Consider virtual world advertising options such as billboards, posters, and banners. These can be placed in high-traffic areas in digital worlds to increase visibility.
Brands that are unsure about how to sell in the metaverse can sponsor virtual events or communities to increase brand awareness without the need to invest heavily in development or world design, which require a lot of outside assistance for marketers to execute well.
Influencers also exist in the metaverse, although they often use pseudonyms and digital avatars rather than their real name and face. Partner with influential avatars or AI influencers in the metaverse to promote your products or services just as you would with Instagram influencers.
Metaverse communities are present on social media and host their own forums and groups. Niche advertising earns higher engagement, and meeting metaverse enthusiasts in their own spaces is a great way to get your brand in front of potential customers.
This is similar to virtual advertisements but takes full advantage of virtual environments to display products and demonstrate use cases. There is no limit to how products can be displayed in the metaverse, and there is a lot of room for creativity from marketers in how to increase visibility.
The metaverse is primarily about experiences, and fun ones are the most memorable. Mini-games and quizzes, possibly with virtual rewards that reflect your product, create an element of exclusivity and compensation for people who interact with your brand.
UGC is also prevalent in the metaverse, and potentially even more so as players' screenshots, videos, and photographs can be shared in-platform and across channels. Encourage users to create and share their own content related to your brand.
Think of the metaverse as a theme park that is slightly different for each attendee. It is similar across users but also allows for personalized marketing and advertising campaigns — including A/B testing — which enable marketers to tailor messages to specific user segments based on behavior and personal preferences.
The metaverse has a limited audience compared to other advertising channels. As an early investor platform, businesses need to make significant investments to reach a small audience. That being said, this is an excellent opportunity for brands to make their mark in an emerging market. For example, many metaverse platforms are doing well with children and teenagers, and brands such as Kellogg’s, Chipotle, and American Eagle have invested in experiences for this key demographic.
Simply put, the metaverse is still in a place where marketers need developers and game designers to do the heavy lifting. While platforms are constantly working on making their social tools more accessible, there is still a requirement for technological literacy and training, making it challenging for resource-strapped marketers to consider. It is no surprise that only the biggest brands are in this space at the moment.
There are still many unanswered questions about safety in the metaverse, particularly regarding content moderation and offensive user-generated content. Platforms such as Meta Quest 2 have recently made significant structural changes to end harassment in virtual reality, and more concerns will likely emerge as the metaverse becomes more immersive.
There are a lot of metaverse platforms. The term metaverse does not fully capture the fact that the metaverse is not one ecosystem but multiple ones — some of which are united through Web3 concepts like non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Many metaverse platforms brand themselves as video games, and it was not until Meta made its stake in the market that the metaverse term really took off. This makes it difficult for brands to choose where they should make a presence and can also lead to a fragmented audience, as some people are present on one platform but not another. Metaverse marketing currently isn’t scalable across platforms.
Measuring the ROI from social is complicated, but social media marketing platforms are available to contextualize metrics and report on stats that matter, like ROI from campaigns. The metaverse is still a new marketing platform, and key metrics have yet to be established.
Entertainment-based marketing has become the most effective form of advertising on social media, rather than static ads or product placement. Brands that are doing well in the metaverse are taking entertainment to a whole new level by building interactive branded experiences, which require a significant investment.
The fashion brand leads in metaverse marketing, crossing boundaries, platforms, and online and offline worlds with its advertising campaigns. It hosted a fashion show within the Roblox platform and allowed users to purchase digital counterparts of its latest fashion. The brand also hosted a virtual pop-up event in Decentraland, a Web3-based metaverse platform focusing on decentralized ownership.
The athletic brand built a digital theme park known as Nikeland in Roblox, enabling players to partake in mini-games and unlock virtual items. Over 21 million people have visited the world, which had less of a focus on e-commerce, and more of a focus on building community and brand recognition.
Charlotte Tilbury is several steps ahead of the Beauty industry in adopting the metaverse as an advertising tool. The iconic brand established its virtual storefront in 2021 in partnership with metaverse platform Obsess and has been expanding on it ever since with interactive, 3D products, live streams with makeup gurus, and QR codes to have Charlotte Tilbury herself appear on customers’ phones and guide them through the experience.
Yes, although it requires some thought on the most effective way to reach customers, including which platform is ideal.
Ideally, the target audience for the metaverse is everyone. Right now, it skews toward early adopters and children, but like all technologies, it will likely change as it becomes more widely used.
The most popular metaverse platform is Roblox, with over 200 million monthly active users.