Remember The Matrix? Ready Player One? Or how about I-Robot? The world seems to be on the presuppose of launching into a full-time virtual experience that mirrors the plot lines of some of our favourite sci-fi movies and we (along with the majority of the population) are torn as to whether or not to be excited for the drastic change in our digital landscape to come.
Let’s face it, Facebook was on the edge of fading into extinction already pre-pandemic, especially with the boom of social platform TikTok and the continued everyday use of Instagram, but have since done a virtual 180 by announcing their new brand relaunch in the form of Meta. Meta (formerly Facebook) is working towards creating a shared virtual space where users, represented by a virtual avatar, can interact and experience events with other users in a world mirrored by our own. Targeted at millennials and Gen Zers as the ideal target market, Meta looks to completely redesign the (virtual) field of marketing and we’re diving into what that may look like.
So let’s begin at the beginning – Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality; what are they and how do they differ from one another?
Virtual reality (VR) is an entirely computer-generated environment that is simulated alternative reality whereas Augmented Reality (AR) is the use of a phone or camera/screen of some sort in creating a vibrant world that interacts with our own thereby creating an alternative real-life. AR is easier for branding and PR tools whereas VR is a fully immersive environment that may need additional equipment such as gloves, headsets and more. An example of AR would be Pokemon Go where the world of Pokemon and the real world collide whereas VR is more like a full-integrated world that you can see and act as if you were actually there.
The Metaverse promises to be the latter; a Virtual Reality created to fully immerse oneself in an alternative world and embodies characteristics such as being filled with UGC (goes without saying), a mix of different platforms and is as fully functional as the real world. And just like the real world, it is always active, exists in real-time and you can connect with just about anyone, doing just about anything.
So how is this going to affect not only everyday life, jobs and interactions but also brand marketing and social media? Let’s take a look at the business side of the meta-verse first.
As with any technological revolution, more in-demand jobs and opportunities are to come with this new environment, with positions such as UX/UI designer, software manager and graphic designers are estimated to be in high demand. Virtual advertising (beyond that of social media and online branding already existing) will be sought after as ‘space’ to be used for online campaigns, to be purchased and showcased as advertising spaces in a variety of manners. Every avenue of e-commerce can be potentially taken further online, beyond that of just online stores and payments to a new world of virtual events, shows and storefronts that allow for immersive experiences that can help convey the exact look and feel of products and services. Meta is even looking at creating virtual workspaces that will be taking hybrid work environments a step further. This is referred to as ‘home office workers’ and would pave the way to continue to work from home, eliminating bad office coffee and water cooler chats to be a thing of the past (again, bittersweet). Instead, your online work environment would allow for global meetings and ‘in-person’ brainstorming sessions or client meetings without leaving the comfort of your home.
So, what does this mean for digital marketing?
There is no limit to the marketing and advertising opportunities to come in the Meta-verse and many brands are already jumping on board in order to have their foot in the door before everyone else. For example, Balenciaga has teamed up with video game creators to showcase their new season in a virtual world called Afterworld and the 2021 League of Legends championship has teamed up with Louis Vuitton in the most unlikely of pairings In a way to showcase both their brands in the online virtual space in a collaboration that has all their followers scrambling to be a part of. Whilst Mark Zuckerberg has warned that full rollout and everyday implications may take between five to ten years still, being ahead of the trends in the name of the game in this industry. Companies could possibly be using virtual games, movies and ‘real-life’ occasions to offer a brand experience to engaging and potential customers or create a unique experience that would be different from all other competitors. Imagine being able to test out how an outfit may look on you without trying it on or touring a home anywhere in the world for purchase virtually – the possibilities are endless!
One of the industries within which a lot can be done is tourism. Creating virtual, real-life experiences for people around the world to visit historical sites, museums and other significant landmarks without having to leave their homes or costing more than they can afford, could potentially be a massive breakthrough in the industry and allow for virtual exploration for all.
And finally, how could we not talk about NFTs?
Unless you have been living under a rock or just have a particularly boring FYP, by now you would have heard about NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork that can be bought online. Most famously, the Bored Ape Yacht Club (a collection of 10 000+ pictures of bored apes as collectables) is one of the highest bought and bid on NFTs in 2021/2022 and provides a great peek into how NFTs will interact in the Meta-verse, which could be a great advantage and trend opportunity for artists and content makers alike – allowing for cashflow and creativity to combine in the best way. Expect NFTs to play a big role in the Meta-Verse in the future!
So there we have it, the new virtual environment looms ahead and there is only one thing that we think we all can agree on – this is going to change EVERYTHING. And Digital Gap will always be at the forefront of all digital innovation. Contact us today to become a part of our pack.