The metaverse, very much in its infancy, has yet to achieve scale. But once again, if we show we understand the landscape and convey to our agencies and advertisers that understanding, we can get a closer bond with them.
Here are my top 10 insights/thoughts on how I see the landscape changing over time, which may serve as a guide for you in certain consultative selling opportunities with (particularly, retail) clients, which is where I think the metaverse will come to the fore first.
1. Customer support services will be made far easier through Augmented Reality (AR). Callouts could be done virtually (great for doctors who don’t always need to visit a patient’s home or a DIY store who can advise remotely), and AI assistants will be able to reply to any frequently asked questions whilst getting smarter all the time in terms of capabilities.
2. The metaverse will allow advertisers to view and be able to highlight specific products or objects when talking to their customers. This will make it much easier to give advice if a customer is struggling to, say, assemble (or fix) a broken product or just asking for guidance.
3. Client advertising should be adapted for the metaverse. Whilst this new world will create many new opportunities, in some cases it’s initially all about taking what they are doing and adapting it to this virtual environment. A toe in the water at first.
4. From a search point of view, local shops, restaurants, etc., could use AR/VR tech to give consumers a 3D experience of their online listing. There are some commentators who see the metaverse as the future of social media, so we need to keep a watch on social platforms like Facebook/Meta, who are already becoming active in this space and are building opportunities for companies as I write.
5. Interoperability (i.e., the ability of equipment or groups to operate in conjunction with each other) is an important feature of the metaverse, so any content created will need to work across the whole range of options as customers move between real and virtual worlds.
6. Advertisers can create an inspirational and totally unique environment. The metaverse allows brands to build virtual environments that can tell their story in a way they never thought possible previously.
7. Advertisers can build a metaverse “store front,” where consumers can interact with/purchase products or services. It’s only limited by the imagination in that it could be shown as being say, on a tropical beach, in space, in a sports arena (or whatever is appropriate). A virtual showroom could be an enticing, swish place to chat with clients. Headsets and motion trackers will be examining the implications of body language, face expressions, and vocal tones, allowing the advertiser to engage with customers in a truly personalised way.
8. Advertisers could offer a virtual “try on before you buy.” Within a virtual high street, it’s not difficult to see customers using their digital persona to try on virtual clothing. AR allows people to see what a product will look like on before buying. Brands are already using this technology to allow customers to try on makeup, reading glasses, or place furniture in their house (IKEA has done this for a while now. See here). This tech is applicable to a whole range of advertisers, including retailers, real estate agents, etc.
9. We should consider how our advertisers’ products keep value in the metaverse. The metaverse will have its own economy. Indeed, we are now beginning to see high worth examples of this in the likes of NFTs, in the digital real estate market, in gaming, and with brands selling clothes (or skins as they’re known) for people to dress their own avatars in.
10. So, as an advertiser, your client could adapt their brands’ customers with specific products or services just to be used in the metaverse. Just like a “normal” economy, entertainment, fashion, design, art, and many services will all hold high value in the digital world.
I spoke to leading XR/VR/AR expert Stephen Shaw about all this recently. His point is: Advertisers need to realise that we are moving to an era where consumers will be able to export their avatar (their online persona) as an Augmented Reality asset. A 3D, volumetric, holographic, video version of themselves as an avatar, which challenges how we will think about who customers really are.
Stephen told me: “Metaverse doesn’t mean escaping out into a virtual world necessarily. Through AR, we can bring the metaverse out into the real world onto our coffee tables, into bars, restaurants, etc., in the real world. The new way of advertising is all about brand experiences, and metaverse allows for this in ways yet to be conceived.”
I recently interviewed Stephen for my radio show (The UK Brand Show). Check it out above for all you need to know about what both the metaverse is and some of issues I have covered today.
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