The metaverse(s) – online 3D environments in which people can play games, watch concerts, buy virtual real estate, even earn money – is widely touted as the next internet frontier. Interest in the metaverse has soared since Facebook announced in October that it is changing its name to Meta and is building its own platform. It’s perhaps unsurprising then, that brand interest is following suit, and why wouldn’t it? Immersive digital environments that appeal to hard-to-reach demographics and that include commerce capabilities, make the metaverse a compelling proposition
We asked industry experts for their thoughts on how advertisng in the metaverse will play out.
James Chandler, CMO, IAB UK
The metaverse is undoubtedly one of the most exciting opportunities for digital advertisers in the last 10 years. As a new platform it will attract a digitally native, highly engaged audience in an immersive environment – a dream combination for brands.
Yet this doesn’t mean that brands need to be metaverse experts from the outset or have their strategies all mapped out. We’re at the very start of this process and a huge part of it will be about experimenting and learning what works.
My advice to brands would be to continue to apply the core principles of digital marketing to the metaverse – harness these new opportunities to entertain and engage people but don’t be intrusive, beware bombardment and always offer value back to your audience.
Kristan Rivers, CEO, AdInMo
Advertising will undoubtedly play a key role in the evolution of the metaverse (or rather metaverses). We’ve already seen early adopters and high-profile brands and games rush to leverage this latest trend. The real opportunity is to do this at scale where content creators can monetize and brands can engage many different audiences in the metaverse authentically beyond the headline-grabbing custom brand activations.
In-game advertising and the metaverse is the perfect media channel through which to create personalized and impactful branding experiences that are respectful of the interactive environment, rather than intruding upon it. And these immersive experiences are more valuable to all participants because of, not despite, the non-interruptive nature of in-game advertising.
Brian Cox, GM Mazzaroth, Kochava
Advertising in the metaverse has been growing for the past few years. It’s only recently that the ecosystem is consistently naming the metaverse, the metaverse. The more people have comfort engaging on digital platforms and across virtual environments, the more powerful advertising becomes in those environments, in part because of the increased scale of audience and the motivation of brands to engage with those audiences.
Because the metaverse is intrinsically digital, everything is measurable. The opportunity for brands will come down to how engagement will be measured and how brands will leverage the metaverse across their advertising objectives.
Shanil Chande, commercial director UK, Hawk Platform
In the absence of many real-world experiences, the pandemic drove new ways to interact; it also encouraged people to be comfortable with technology. Meta therefore arrived at exactly the right time. It’s early days, but the metaverse looks set to offer some powerful advertising opportunities. However, brands must not take the engaged, ‘dialled-in’ consumer for granted; audiences still expect relevant and authentic ads.
It’s also a new space that needs specific strategies. It’s not an extension of mobile, neither is it necessarily directly comparable to its IRL equivalents. For example, digital out-of-home (DOOH) ads in the metaverse are often a one-to-one medium – in contrast to ‘real-world’ DOOH, which is one-to-many.
So far, we’ve seen fashion brands hone in on this new world; they see it as a unique environment in which to engage ‘younger’ audiences, as well as increase the lifetime value of their customers. Interesting times ahead!
Natalia Vasilyeva, VP Marketing, Anzu
The metaverse will completely reshape the way we think about traditional advertising. For too long digital ads have tried to fit within the containers of the past to help ad planners, who were wary about shifting their spend online, understand how they operate. With the shift to a digital-first age, sped up by the global pandemic, and with businesses everywhere announcing their metaverse strategies, advertisers’ mindsets are shifting and we are beginning to see brands and agencies think differently about what advertising looks like and experiment with new formats and experiences.
We’re already seeing this happen in Roblox and Fortnite, where brands are running in-game ads, creating their own playable experiences, and launching in-game branded items and immersive activations that transcend the online and offline world. To prepare for the metaverse, brands should be working with companies who understand these spaces and can help them not only find a way in but build out their virtual identity to help them understand precisely how, why, and where they fit into the metaverse in a natural way that makes sense to both their brand’s story and their audience.
Rosie Copland-Mann, Senior Creative Strategist, Amplify
Meta and Twitter are already creating walled gardens, building the metaverse along familiar monopolistic lines. With metaverse advertising, we’re likely to see similar behaviours.
Referred to as ‘in-world’ or ‘in-verse’, metaverse advertising is described as the ‘next marketing channel’. From virtual stores, gigs, fashion shows, billboards in games like Fortnite or Roblox, NFTs and VR gaming skins, there are many opportunities to reach new audiences, especially Gen-Z and gamers.
Metaverse advertising goes beyond traditional display by offering a chance to create more valuable, meaningful and exciting and less invasive ways of selling.
However, we mustn’t simply transpose current advertising practices into the metaverse. It needs fresh strategy and much consideration, for example – capitalising on VR eye-tracking. This is a chance not to repeat mistakes in our current version of the internet and advertising like misinformation and radicalisation. People’s entire realities can be altered in the metaverse. So metaverse advertising has real consequences.
Aaron Goldman, CMO, Mediaocean
We’re moving towards the future of the media, entertainment, communication, and commerce – and it’s going to be a mad scramble, not an orderly march. Even if we don’t see much adoption of the metaverse in the next twelve months, I do think that we’ll see the groundwork being laid for how brands will ultimately operate in it.
That will probably mean some high-profile brands making experimental forays into the space, similar to the NBA and Disney’s NFT efforts. More importantly, though, it will lead to greater recognition of the widening gap between our traditional idea of what marketing looks like and how it needs to operate in this new reality.
None of this innovation, it needs to be said, will eliminate the billboard or the TV spot – or even social media – as communications channels for brands. Rather, this will be a future of highly diversified media consumption – and marketers will need more flexible creative, more agile activation, and more intelligent measurement in order to thrive in this environment. We’ll see new methodologies, new digital tools, and new skills becoming indispensable to the industry.
This year, then, might not be the year when the metaverse becomes a default element of campaigns – but it should and will be the year when marketing agencies and brands start thinking seriously about whether they are ‘metaverse-ready’.
Tom Primrose, Lead Brand Strategist, Curious
The Metaverse is an exciting opportunity, with a vast array of capabilities; since day one it’s been attracting huge attention from consumers, and brands are now starting to follow suit. But, advertisers need to proceed with caution because as well as being an exciting space, it’s not an evolved one. Sure, it’s a new opportunity for brands to take ownership of new digital real estate, but it’s also an unknown territory for most.
It will take planning, and a careful strategic approach – the same type of approach that was needed for social media back in the day. Some will learn the hard way – rushing into the new world and, despite appearing to be at the forefront of the revolution, will actually be getting it vastly wrong. Which in turn, may do more damage than expected. However, with the right strategy in place, it’s probably the best opportunity brands have had in the last decade, both big and small businesses alike, and it’s exciting to discover what this new world holds.
Emre Atalay, Co-Founder and CEO, BCNMonetize
Although it’s difficult to estimate the scale of metaverse ad spend, it’s likely the virtual domain will offer brands many opportunities to connect with consumers on exciting new levels. Initial metaverse ads may appear as billboards, but there’s potential for them to transform into immersive experiences.
We expect influencer marketing to be huge in the metaverse, as content creators will be able to connect with their loyal followers in a realistic setting. Meanwhile, fashion brands could benefit from selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that consumers can wear in the metaverse, while also boosting sales of items in the real world.
Nike, for example, has recently filed trademark applications for the metaverse and acquired NFT sneaker manufacturer RTFKT. While full metaverse construction is a long way off, it’s clear that brands could benefit from advertising in this immersive realm and that some are already getting ahead of the curve.