The metaverse has taken the internet by storm and has been a hot topic of conversation recently, with Meta (earlier known as Facebook), Microsoft and now Disney staking claims for creating their own immersive and interactive metaverse. But what is a metaverse, and why do big companies suddenly show so much interest in developing their metaverse? The biggest question we all have is what are the new opportunities this new technology presents for everybody?
Welcome to the metaverse, alternate digital realities where people work, play, learn and socialize. You can call it the metaverse, the mirror world, the AR Cloud, a new social media platform or Live Maps, but one thing is for certain, it’s coming, and it’s a big deal.
A simple google search will tell you a metaverse is a collective virtual shared space created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the Internet. The word “metaverse” is a portmanteau of the prefix “meta” (meaning beyond) and “universe”; the term is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.
So what, exactly, is the metaverse? Why did Mark Zuckerberg make it his new life’s work, and why are other big companies investing hundreds of millions of dollars into their own immersive visions? And most importantly, how is any of this going to impact your life?
As of today, a metaverse is a shared virtual space where people who have the right equipment and subscriptions to enter the platform are represented by their digital avatars similar to Steven Spielberg’s 2018 movie Ready Player One. The technology behind virtual reality constantly grows and evolves based on our real-life society. So eventually, people will be able to enter the metaverses of their choice, personalize their virtual worlds and interact with parts of it in their physical space, with the help of augmented and mixed reality.
Due to the pandemic, the entire world seemed to shift towards online alternatives, families were reuniting and celebrating on Zoom calls, weddings were relocated to a shared world in the Animal Crossings game, graduations took place on Minecraft and fashion brands were giving their consumers a trial of their clothes virtually with the help of augmented reality. With increased online social gatherings, the online video gaming industry saw a rapid increase in demand for more interactive features which they could enjoy and share with their families and friends, all without having to leave their own house. The metaverse had to come later or sooner, due to the increased demand for such virtual reality platforms, and we definitely know brands are going to play a vital role in creating profitable content in these worlds.
Companies will have to adapt to new technologies and transition their marketing strategies from online advertising to virtual reality advertising. Companies will then have endless opportunities to test and try virtual reality ads with their new customers in the metaverses. It will be interesting to see how people act and what their preferences are in their selected metaverses. It’s totally possible that consumers’ purchase behaviours could be completely different in metaverses than in the real world. This gives marketers a vast window of opportunity to broadcast their messaging in the real world and metaverses. On top of that, new business opportunities can be created for bots, where virtual assistants and robots own the relationship with the consumer and provide consumers with the best customer services available.
Shopping online will be better than ever. It just won’t be limited to trying clothes with augmented reality, it’s way more than just that. Virtual fashion, avatar “skins”, and virtual real estate (housing, cars, etc.) will have their own worth in the metaverse. Companies will have to design brands for different people at different stages of wealth. People who invest heavily in the metaverse may have their own businesses and property, therefore giving them a partnering opportunity with businesses that don’t exist in physical reality.
A new form of social gathering and use of the internet is being worked on and metaverses will have massive implications in our lives and in society. Marketing, advertising, communication and branding professionals might face some new challenges but will also have endless opportunities. The upcoming era of metaverse will unleash some never seen before creativity, art and open new horizons for brands and business. But the main question still remains the same, is the world really ready for such a big change?
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