Don’t believe them when they tell you the metaverse is already here. What we have is a bevy of hypothetical realities but they are not yet connected. When they are, it will be possible to enter the metaverse.
What exactly does the term “metaverse” mean? It’s a 30-year-old term, first coined by science fiction author Neal Stephenson with his novel Snow Crash. It is clumsily derived from the Greek, dead Being a prefix means “after”. So what is beyond the universe? the problem is, Opposite It means “turn into” which makes perfect sense in the word “becoming” – turn into one – but makes less sense when you turn beyond.
We turned to Tim Parkin, a marketing consultant who advises his clients on how to prepare for metaverses, for more clarity. “Actually, the metaverse is really indeterminate, it’s very mysterious. Most importantly, it will change. So what it is today will not be what it is tomorrow. That makes it a moving target.” However, Parkin was willing to venture that it’s a whole new layer built on the internet’s infrastructure, opening up a “new dimension of possibilities and possibilities”.
Essentially, the metaverse will take the digital environment that many of us have been in for at least the past two years and upgrade it to a virtual reality-based fantasy world, creating many opportunities, including for marketers, as well as “some scary realities,” he said.
Anyone who wears a VR headset understands what virtual reality looks like, but the metaverse, conceptually at least, goes well beyond that. “If you think about the internet right now, it’s made up of a bunch of different servers, websites, platforms and apps, but they’re all in the same domain. Using the metaverse, we can have this virtual reality experience together. All of this is happening in this gigantic realm, this world Where we can all coexist, collaborate, and share different experiences, adventures, and connections.”
Parkin explained that this does not exclude hybrid use cases. “You might interact through a physical environment as well. You might be in a grocery store and be able to virtually interact with people or order things virtually. Not just sitting at home with a headset on. You could be in the real world, but link it to metaverses.”
Of course, the metaverse will be firmly rooted in hardware reality. We often forget that. It relies on computers to run simulations, process transactions, and render these worlds – all connected to the Internet. We will not escape from the Internet; This is built on top of the Internet.” And like the Internet, it wouldn’t be owned by anyone. “That’s its beauty, but also the bad part,” Parkin said. If no one has it, how do you keep an eye on it? “
Web3 is often mentioned at the same time as the metaverse. What is the link? Web3 is the next level of the internet that integrates blockchain and the idea of decentralization. By laying layers in the blockchain, we can track transactions and get the source of truth for everything that happens. The metaverse is separate, but there are opportunities for Web3 and metaverse to overlap. “
Some organizations are already experimenting with aspects of the metaverse, but Parkin insists that the metaverse itself does not yet exist. “There are people working on trials, but until we have consumers who can actually participate, I don’t see that in there now, or even in the near future,” he explained. “We’re still a little bit far from adopting it to a high degree and doing anything of value within the metaverse.”
How should marketers prepare for this strange future?
The metaverse may not be with us yet, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what it would mean. “I think there are three big things,” Barkin said. “First, be open-minded. This is going to change. If you think back to the original Internet with web pages and email and what those pages looked like, and compare them today, you’re going to find they’re very different. So don’t make any judgments about what that could be, Because people will find value in that. It’s an exploratory process.”
Second, he said, look at what the big brands are doing to prepare. “Nikes and Taco Bells, they have the resources and the imperative to play in the metaverse. Most companies don’t have the time or can’t afford to mess with this, but the big companies that need to constantly innovate or push the envelope, will be the ones to explore this.”
Finally, he said, go slowly. “There’s a lot of hype and excitement and a lot of people think there’s going to be a first mover advantage. It’s not going to be as transformative as a lot of people think in the next two or three, maybe even five years. I’m going to be very methodical and thoughtful about this, and unless it’s a brand Really big, you shouldn’t push that much. It’s good to sit on the sidelines and watch, but you have to go very slowly to see where you can fit in, because this is very fickle and risky.”
Big win for the gaming industry
In addition to keeping an eye on what the big brands are doing, Barkin suggests paying attention to companies likely to support the metaverse, especially in the gaming industry. “There is a company called Epic Games that has been around for a long time,” he said. “They are the creators of many video games and the Unreal Engine,” an advanced 3D creation tool. “Epic Games will be a key player in the metaverse because the metaverse is basically one giant video game universe.”
Parkin anticipates that the gaming industry will be at the forefront due to its long experience with virtual worlds – just offline. He said, “The whole gaming culture is something marketers really have to pay attention to, because there are a lot of things that are going to see things new, but outdated in the gaming industry.” Barkin cheerfully admits he has a degree in game design.
Of course, advertisers have already moved into the gaming space, displaying messages in virtual worlds and developing metrics to measure performance. “This is just bringing that gaming experience into a global world where we can socialize and spend time together, not necessarily in the context of gaming, but there are a lot of core elements from gaming that we can learn from.”
Read next: Marketers look to upgrade their 3D digital experiences as metaverse approaches
Looking for a dystopia?
Guess what, there are big potential downsides to all of this. The metaverse can be a bad place (yes, that’s literally what “dystopia” means). It’s not hard to see why. The potentially harmful effects of social media, particularly on the mental health of young people, have been widely discussed, not least because Facebook appears to have hidden internal research on the harmful effects of Instagram. This is just by looking at an app or website, and not completely immersed in reality, as Facebook or Meta will surely seek to control it.
Barkin agrees, “Social media is a dangerous place.” “In the metaverse, we have removed another level of reality. You are a screen persona, not a real person. There are social dynamics that we need to think about and prepare for.” Binge games were on the rise in 2021 with a third of gamers playing for five hours straight. It’s annoying to imagine vulnerable people spending long periods as characters in an unreal world
“The dark side of this is interesting to think about,” Barkin said. “There is a lot of bad activity going on on the Internet. A lot of people focus on the opportunities and the positives of the metaverse, but there will be a lot of deceptive and double-behavior in this metaverse. It’s not all ponies and rainbows.”
One thing we can be sure of, you will leave the regulatory authorities in the dust