A Business, A Brand and A Consumer Walk into the Metaverse
This week we had the opportunity to sit down with the Godmother of the Metaverse, Cathy Hackl - our visionary of the year, and chat with her about all things media, metaverse and Web 3.0. During this session we discussed the implications of this emerging world for businesses and brands.
Below is a quick overview of what you ought to know, along with a few thoughts about entry points for your business or brand, as well trends to watch as consumers navigate - from influencers to mass adoption - and take their place in the metaverse.
Originally coined in 1992 by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash, the term "metaverse" has come to mean many things to many people, but is generally defined as the next iteration of the internet. It is a universal world that blends physical and digital spaces, places and experiences. It will develop across augmented and virtual reality, and gaming. It will leverage new hardware, software and connectivity; all of which will be enabled by emerging technologies.
Key Things to Know*
- Blockchain: a system in which a record of transactions are maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network
- NFTs: noninterchangeable digital assets stored on a blockchain.
- Decentralized Autonomous Organizations or DAOs: communities built on blockchain that run autonomously based on code, with the underlying hope to democratize control to the participants.
- Avatars: an icon or figure representing a particular person in video games, internet forums, etc.
Where Do I Enter the Metaverse?
In many ways, we are all already participating in the metaverse, but think of it as virtual meetings or games, such as when we join a Zoom call or when our children log onto their devices to play Roblox. Take a Peloton class recently? You've participated in virtual world. There are specific platforms emerging to create more virtual worlds like Decentraland, Somnium Space and The Sandbox. Curious? You can visit Decentraland as a guest. Click here to check it out.
One of the most important conversations happening in business today about the metaverse of tomorrow is around what kinds of commerce will take place in these emerging virtual worlds. 3 genres of commercial experiences seem to be most prevalent, to date:
- A physical purchase that unlocks a digital experience
- A digital purchase that unlocks a digital experience or
- A digital purchase that unlocks a physical experience.
For some inspiration check out these examples:
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself or your team as you consider taking your business and your brand into emerging virtual worlds:
- What's your brand's purpose in the physical world? And how might that manifest differently in the virtual world?
- What new experiences does your brand have permission to offer in a virtual world, because of what it stands for or 'owns' in the physical world?
- Where do you add the most value for consumers, in the absence of advertising, and what does that imply for how you should connect with audiences in the metaverse?
Most importantly: be authentic. Make whatever you offer meaningful to the audiences you are trying to reach. This consideration will increase your likelihood of connecting with them.
Jump in. Try it out. Buy NFTs. Visit Decentraland. Have fun with it. The metaverse is already a reality for scores of people who have grown up playing Minecraft (which is already 11 years old) and Roblox.
Some short-term ideas:
- Partner with platforms to create experiences
- Collaborate with creators to tell stories about your brand
- Experiment with commerce - online or off - add value to consumers in any of the physical/digital combinations outlined above
But most importantly: explore, experiment & learn so that you can plan, activate and scale when the time is right, which will be before you know it.
*Definitions are attributable to Oxford Languages & Fortune, otherwise written by our team.
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