The Metaverse was already up for the best buzzword in 2021, but when Facebook announced it was changing its name to Meta to signal a growing focus on the Metaverse, things took to a whole new level.
Facebook’s rebranding is another signal that brands need to act quickly to capitalize on the opportunity within the metaverse, as technological advancements in hardware, software and connectivity help create more believable human interactions and highly immersive experiences than ever before. That, coupled with the behavioral changes and greater reliance on digital infrastructure in our daily lives brought on by the pandemic, creates endless possibilities for brands to delve into it.
But it’s still difficult for many brands to know what they can do right now to start small and introduce the metaverse into their marketing plans. Here are a number of ways brands are getting into what will likely become the gateway to most digital experiences, in no order of priority.
1. From virtual fashion to virtual real estate and gaming accessories, people pay a lot of money for virtual goods. As games and social apps support more creativity and design variation, people pay for virtual items that help signal their character and values, just as they would in the real world.
For most brands, the most immediate opportunity is to create wearable items for in-game or social experiences. The biggest opportunities relate to partnering with games like Fortnite, Roblox or League of Legends. These platforms are extremely selective and will work closely with you to create something that contributes to the gaming experience natively (for example, luxury fashion house Balenciaga is teaming up with Fortnite). But you can still make branded skins on platforms that have open markets, like Skater XL, The Sims, and Animal Crossing.
Additionally, brands can create fascinating fashionable virtual augmented reality (AR) lenses on Snapchat, which has the best full body tracking capabilities. Dept launched our first virtual fashion lens in 2019 for the ASOS online fashion store and its Gen Z Collusion brand. When the lens recognized the items from the game-influenced clothing collection, we animated the clothing in AR.
2. As society spends more time online, we value digital assets more and express it through acquiring virtual property. The most popular form of virtual ownership is non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which allow us to transfer ownership of virtual assets between people, businesses and creators.
Some brands have launched NFT Limited Editions, including NBA Top Shot which has generated over $ 700 million in NFT sales since its launch. Coca-Cola, Pringles, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Microsoft and Nike have also launched collections.
Many brands don’t know where to start with NFTs, which is why we recently launched the first white label open source solution to launch an NFT marketplace, built on the Algorand blockchain. The new market makes it easy for you to create and launch your own NFTs within days.
3. You can create fully immersive 3D virtual places, worlds, spaces and places from scratch. One of the most immediate opportunities for metaverse brands right now is to create virtual places, worlds and spaces to host events and experiences. It’s a creative opportunity akin to the first branded sites.
With the pandemic preventing mass gatherings, Eurovision was to create a virtual version of its annual song festival. Together, we created a revolutionary virtual experience for 500,000 visitors that captured the atmosphere of Eurovision and the host city of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, with fresh content and 3D experiences every day.
Brands can also partner with existing virtual worlds to host events within them, such as Gucci within Roblox and Coca-Cola within Decentraland. Fortnite is also continuously releasing new areas on the Fortnite map in partnership with brands like Disney (for Star Wars) and Marvel (for Captain America, Nexus War, and Deadpool).
4. The boundary between digital and physical experiences is rapidly shrinking, creating new forms of entertainment and extended reality experiences. These new experiences are often interactive, lived “together”, add a visual layer to reality or transpose traditional IRL behaviors into digital platforms.
These experiences are most often lived through mobile-based AR, but Snapchat’s latest glasses are a big step forward. Unlike previous attempts, these lenses overlay augmented reality directly above the view through the lenses rather than augmenting the images in retrospect. Snapchat has also released Connected Lenses, where you can co-experience augmented reality with someone else using a different phone, which brings a sense of the physical to the digital experience.
Other brands are experimenting with live events in this space. Amazon Prime launched the world’s first real-world live-action Twitch experience for the No remorse movie premiere. The event was scheduled as a theater performance, had the interactivity of a game, was filmed as an advertisement and broadcast as a sporting event.
5. If people can’t physically come to your home, set up a store or virtual exhibit. As the world locked in response to the pandemic, retailers quickly invested in digital replicas of their in-store experience. If people can’t physically come to you, you need to bring them the 3D experience of your brand.
We’ve seen Animal Crossing stores from Net-A-Porter and Fila, VR experiences from brands like Dermalogica, and a slew of beautifully executed online stores and exhibits. Fashion brand Ganni has redesigned the way to engage its B2B shoppers with an immersive store experience, which includes a 360-degree lookbook of the fit, style, shape and texture of each item.
There’s no one way to get into the metaverse
As you can see, there isn’t just one way to start experimenting in the Metaverse. You may not have the technical resources of a known brand, but any brand has the ability to start small. Determine your brand’s “why” for the future and do it now. And don’t be afraid to be playful, because the metaverse will be defined by many rather than a few. And you don’t want to be left behind.