The metaverse has been all over headlines recently, but for many it is still a nebulous idea. Being touted, as “marketing’s next big thing”, the metaverse has many marketers wondering how they will be able to tap it’s potential and what the impact of this virtual world will be.
We sat down with Tim Parkin, a consultant, advisor, and coach to marketing executives globally. Specializing in helping marketing teams optimize performance, accelerate growth, and maximize results, Tim has over 20 years of experience in the marketing and business sector. We asked Tim to break down for us what exactly the metaverse is, how it will impact the world of marketing, and what actions we should be taking.
NL: For our readers who are unaware, can you break down what the metaverse is?
Tim: The metaverse is a massive, ever-evolving, virtual world that allows anyone to connect and engage in novel ways using technology like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to merge our physical and digital worlds.
Think of it like playing a character in the biggest video game you could ever imagine—one that reflects our physical reality but extends it in new and interesting ways. Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are two-dimensional, but the metaverse makes connections, commerce, and conversation take shape in a three-dimensional environment.
How have you been involved with the metaverse?
My career began in software development with a specific focus on video game design and development, including several years in military simulation. Now, my focus is on advising marketing executives at global organizations, many of which are trying to understand the potential value and implications of the metaverse.
How will marketers be able to use the metaverse? What benefits would it provide?
Many of the same benefits that exist today will also exist in the metaverse: advertisements, billboards, messaging to reach customers, etc. But the true value of the metaverse will be in experiential marketing—creating experiences that attract people and create conversation, awareness, and brand loyalty.
The metaverse will provide the most interactive and engaging ways to reach and connect with customers at scale.
Can you give some examples of how you think marketers can get ahead and prepare for this new marketing medium?
Education is the first step.
It’s important for marketers to stay appraised on what’s happening with the metaverse and who the notable players are. Being well versed in video games is a huge advantage, particularly games with avid communities like Minecraft and Roblox. The best way to prepare is to step foot into the metaverse by plugging in and participating.
Joining and observing events, like the recent New York Fashion Week’s virtual event in the metaverse, is a good place to start.
What are some risks that you see with brands and marketers getting involved with the metaverse?
Anything new is risky and the metaverse is no exception.
The expected risk is a lack of response or positive return on investment given that the metaverse is new and unproven. However, the more serious risks include damage to brand reputation from poorly executed or offensive experiences created within the metaverse, intentional or otherwise.
With Facebook’s push towards the metaverse and even rebranding as “Meta”, what impacts do you see this having on perceptions of the metaverse?
Meta (formerly Facebook) is desperate to own the metaverse.
Ultimately, there will be many “domains” within the metaverse and Meta will have their own slice of the pie. The metaverse is the wild west, much like the internet was when it was first created. Just like the world wide web, no one owns the metaverse and I don’t think any entity ever will. The metaverse is yours as much as it is mine.
Besides, Meta (Facebook), what other types of companies do you foresee getting involved?
The video game industry will be the champion of the metaverse. Companies like Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, and Activision Blizzard, which created the massive multiplayer online game World of Warcraft, are two of the biggest companies to watch.
Recently, Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion which makes Microsoft a key competitor to Meta in the battle for the metaverse. Apple also has a lot at stake and should be announcing a VR headset (or some form of technology) later this year.
Do you think that what we see today is just a speck of what marketers and brands will be able to do with this type of technology in the future?
Absolutely! This is the tip of the iceberg and “you ain’t seen nothing yet” when it comes to the metaverse.
Do you remember when email was a new thing and you weren’t sure if you should get an email address? I do. That’s the equivalent of the metaverse today. We will all be in the metaverse whether or not we believe it today. There’s no question that what we see today won’t be the metaverse in a year from now. Like all technology, it will continue to evolve and change in ways we can’t even begin to predict.
The metaverse will be an enhancement and not a replacement of our physical world. As much as I believe we will all be active in the metaverse, we are years away from it replacing the marketing activities that we’re all accustomed to.