Collaboration in the Metaverse
There has been much talk about the Metaverse, what it is, what it will be, and how it might take over the world. Fact of the matter is, no one quite knows how the Metaverse will take shape. The Venture Capitalist Matthew Ball states it will be based on these core principles:
1. It’s about being within the computer rather than simply accessing it
2. Persistent and ambient, it’s about being “online” all the time
Certain elements of the Metaverse already exist, most notably in video games such as Second Life or World of Warcraft where users’ access these worlds with digital avatars and lead virtual, alternate lives. Much of the public consciousness seems to focus on this concept. In reality, the transition will likely be slower moving. Individuals may access the Metaverse in a multitude of ways, to start some may connect with a virtual reality headset, while others may use augmented reality.
We’ve all spent the last decade curating digital versions of ourselves on Instagram, Fortnite, Twitter, and other social platforms. To understand the Metaverse is to realize that the next evolution of this concept is a further merging of the two. The Metaverse breaks down the wall between the physical and digital, and it will likely manifest in different ways for different people. The common denominator is that we are heading towards a world in which most everything we see is connected to the internet in some way, yet it always rests on the connection between the physical self and the internet-connected world.
So what could the Metaverse mean for collaborative advertising? Similar to the merging of our physical and digital lives, advertising presumably follows a similar evolution. We’ve already seen this with increasing personalization in advertising. What “personalization” really means, of course, is leveraging digital signals on consumers to make advertising appear as relevant and personal to them in the moment. By looking at Nike shoes on Amazon, I have now provided a signal to advertisers that I am interested in Nike shoes. This is a great moment to show me more Nike or similar shoes as I look to make a purchase decision.
More than any platform prior, the Metaverse builds upon the concept of collaboration. We’ll see collaboration between individuals, whether playing games or working on projects. Yet we’ll also see collaboration between brands, such as Marvel characters in the Fortnite universe, which is ultimately advertising for both brands. The Metaverse will accelerate the concept of collaborative advertising, in which brands jointly advertise with locations (digital or physical) where they are sold.
Imagine a virtual storefront where you can curate the shelves based on a combination of your prior shopping history, current needs based on what’s in your home inventory, as well as complementary recommendations. Even a Metaverse concert hall that allows fans to enjoy performances virtually with others not there physically holds tremendous value for advertising. For the performers this extends their audience, and for advertisers, all of this connected activity pulls in additional signals that power personalization.
That’s what it’s all about in the end: Greater connectivity. That’s the promise of the Metaverse. No longer do we have our “real” life and our “virtual” life, but instead we simply are alive in a fully interconnected digital and physical world. To this end, advertisers must evolve with the times. We have already seen consumer expectations shift towards privacy, as well as companies like Apple and Google shifting to give users more control over their data. Ultimately, these are positive trends. They ensure individuals are empowered to make their own choices. The Metaverse can not upend this entirely. The world of the Internet (both in terms of its virtual existence, but also all the physical devices and wires that make it work) is far too decentralized for one entity to rule it all. The Metaverse can only reflect this decentralization.
Advertisers will have more signals and places to display ads, but it will still require forethought and ingenuity to build authentic engagement between brands and consumers. Collaborative advertising, to be truly impactful, must be both highly relevant to the consumer but also unobtrusive as to not de-value either the brand nor the storefront in the eyes of the consumer. The Metaverse makes this easier in some ways, as it will provide individuals the choice on where and how they gather virtually. Some may find themselves in a virtual shopping mall, while others simply view an augmented reality shelf as they pass by a physical storefront. In either case, it’s going to be up to adtech to evolve, and grow, with the times.
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