The prospect of the Metaverse excites many brands and marketers. But this is far from a blanket opinion, and the notion of immersive experiences is far from gaining universal approval.
Technology has changed immensely over the decades, from plugged-in dial phones to the development of the computer and, later, the internet, which now hosts social media platforms and online, live forums. It is clear how these developments have impacted our lives, and now people are wondering whether the Metaverse will follow suit. The potential is almost hard to imagine. The opportunities offered in immersive experiences could change the way we live and learn forever. These prospects also come with concern and anxiety, which could essentially hold back its development and implementation.
The idea of the Metaverse has been around for decades. Yet, recent technological developments have raised the question: Is the Metaverse simply a ploy that will not, and should not, come to fruition, or is it the next big piece of technology that will revolutionise the world we live in and offer benefits beyond our imagination?
A virtual world where people can interact with each other in real-time poses the potential of equal access to lifelike and otherwise unattainable experiences for the masses. Individuals can succeed or take part based on their ability and imagination rather than their location, providing more opportunities than ever before. It could provide experiences that would otherwise not be possible.
Just as the development of an aeroplane broke geographical boundaries, the Metaverse has the potential to do this on an even grander scale. For marketers, this could mean reaching different markets in different locations in more personalised and innovative ways. It offers benefits via virtual representations of physical objects that customers could try before they buy. Opportunities to collaborate and co-create with colleagues in geographically different locations offering shared learning spaces and increased creativity.
While all the potentials sound exciting, many fundamental barriers exist before these benefits can be felt far and wide.
Creating content for the Metaverse and providing access that enables virtual collaboration means a high monetary investment. It requires resources and technical skills that may not be available in a world experiencing a digital skills crisis. On top of this, navigating the Metaverse will not come as a walk in the park to all. This could hold back the potential usage once a lot of time, effort and resources have been contributed to the creation. While the idea is access for all, many cannot afford the necessary hardware or internet and may be marginalised from enjoying the benefits.
Understanding humans in the Metaverse
Before marketers can begin marketing in the Metaverse, they must also understand how humans behave and react in a virtual space compared to in real life. Do people behave the same in an immersive experience? Specific questions must be addressed before understanding the impact marketing in this space can create. As a relatively new concept, few people are aware of or interested in the Metaverse. While it may seem like a brilliant idea to some marketers who want to reach their audiences in new and innovative ways, said audiences could be limited and may not receive the content as intended. Currently, it is an unproven marketing channel, and the ROI is entirely unknown.
Regulation and safeguards
As we have seen with the issues around data, privacy and AI in recent times, increased use of technology will come with expectations from the public to keep them safe and secure. The Metaverse raises ethical concerns around not only the use of data but the potential for misuse and addiction, among other factors. For marketers who often see it from the innocent lens of offering a space to showcase products and brands, it runs the risk of being associated with something potentially damaging. As it is currently underdeveloped, little regulation exists to safeguard users and their privacy. The notion involves tracking behaviour and collecting interaction information. This opens up new opportunities to exploit customer behaviours, which can be a turn-off to many.
The Metaverse offers some exciting prospects, but brands must be careful before taking the leap and investing in such technology. There is a high risk associated with brand safety and reputation, and anyone looking to invest should take precautions when weighing up the pros and cons. In years to come, a virtual online space to share ideas and content may be the next big thing in tech. However, as it currently stands, a lack of evidence exists to show that the Metaverse is a stable possibility with proven results. Marketers should approach it cautiously as critics argue it is unlikely to impact the industry significantly.
About the Author
Alfie Dawson is founder and CEO at Bordeaux and Burgundy. We help SaaS businesses become unicorns by harnessing decades of full-service marketing experience to deliver creative and capacity solutions. Where We Came From: Founded by a SaaS Marketing leader with experience of taking multiple businesses to million and billion dollar exits. We understand what makes successful B2b SaaS marketing like no other agency. Who We Are: A talented team of expert SaaS marketers that utilises a colossal network of established marketing leaders across all industries to stay ahead of the game.
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