Waiting for the metaverse? The revolution is already here
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For those who celebrate Super Bowl ads more than the actual game, the latter could forever be known as the Metaverse Bowl.
Facebook and Miller both ran ads mentioning and praising the metaverse, while Matthew McConaughey starred in a Salesforce ad that delved into the metaverse. The word itself is everywhere and Facebook has draped itself in it with its new name, Meta.
Superbowl 2022 and the metaverse
But as these “meta” marketing messages roll out with varying degrees of success, there seems to be a noticeable metaverse-shaped blind spot in today’s marketing: the key experience technologies of the metaverse promise are already here. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and other cross-reality experiences are widely enjoyed by the public and exploited by savvy marketers seeking highly engaging performances — significantly outperforming traditional dwell time ads and ripe for viral sharing.
In the digital ecosystem, new tools and enthusiasts are revolutionizing, and creators are not waiting for a single ‘metaverse’ to be delivered. Consumers use – and even create their own – AR and VR experiences and share their journeys every day on the biggest social platforms such as Facebook, TikTok and Snap.
On Snap alone, more than 250,000 creators have built millions of AR experiences that reach more than 200 million Snapchat users every day. Facebook’s Spark AR Community hosts millions of creations and prompts users with: themed contests that attract thousands of participants and build their own cross-reality effects. TikTok’s rollout of their effect authoring environment is still a bit fancier, but their AR Lens Gallery has content created by brands as diverse as Pepsi, Listerine, Huawei Technologies, and Call of Duty.
While brands hesitate, users have taken to the new medium to express their brand affinity and create their own content as needed. You can see unapproved fan-created AR creations that you become Emperor Palpatine from Star Warsor find out which Harry Potter wizard are you?or which Disney character are you?† (The latter was an instant phenomenon, attracting countless celebrities to share their results on social media, including Disney star Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf in Frozen, and Zelda Williams, who ironically matched Aladdin’s Genie, voiced by her. father, Robin Williams.)
Meanwhile, tools enable ordinary users to create and explore 3D content, with the secret weapon of the modern smartphone, which is now a gateway for creating 3D content – the building block of any metaverse. Now anyone can scan a real-world scene or object in 3D, leading to their own new medium of user-generated content. For example, sharing the bedroom in 3D became a trend on TikTokand people use 3D site Sketchfab to Share people and places captured in 3D†
As you can see, there are exciting applications that can creatively expand your marketing and brand today without having to wait for a single company-controlled ‘metaverse’. To get started with AR/VR today, you need to do the following:
Determine what great extension of your product/property/solution would work well in this environment. It’s clear that entertainment companies have a huge drive to bring their properties to life through AR/VR/XR, but brands across industries can bring their brand promise or product features to life to get their messages across to this audience. Collaborate with influencers, communities, creators, or agencies who know this space to bring the idea to life. It’s hard to do it alone, especially in a new environment. And while companies have a lot of marketing expertise, this doesn’t always translate to AR/VR/XR. By collaborating with experts, you create a better experience for devotees faster and with fewer false starts. Consider providing the XR creative community with 3D assets to work with to share your story the way you want it to be told. This is a strategy that video game companies often use. As shown above, consumers use and remix your content without your permission or assistance. Providing them with the right type of content to play with gives you a degree of control, earning goodwill by working directly with creators, and ensuring your resources are used in a sea of other options. Include it in your marketing. It’s not enough just to participate in the AR/VR/XR space, you have to expand it through your ad initiatives. This is what NBCUniversal did for his AR shopand Purina did it for his cat theme AR campaign† The community will respect and appreciate you for drawing attention to their efforts and passions, and you’ll get the impression of cool by showing you’re participating in the next generation of entertainment. They also outperformed regular ads. 360 VR ads outperformed standard ad units by a significant margin by 15-20x.
There is no doubt that the “metaverse” will continue to dominate conversations for years to come – both in marketing and culture. But there is no need to stand on the sidelines as the new paradigm of 3D or ‘spatial’ communication emerges; it’s already there and consumers are engaged and creating. Get active in AR/VR/XR today to entertain your audience and keep your brand top-of-mind for the influencers driving the next revolution in creativity.
Jason Steinberg is a managing partner of Pretty Big Monster.
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