“That’s so meta.”

July 7, 2022

10 years ago, that comment would be about how introspective something was – say, a TV show that broke the 4th wall and started talking to the viewer. But today, it’s associated with a host of new and evolving technologies: Facebook, the internet, VR, and of course “The Metaverse.”

So, what is the metaverse? For now, it’s still a little ambiguous. The internet never knew what it was going to be in the days of dial-up modems and “you’ve got mail”; and much like that, the metaverse is still figuring itself out.

But even so, it’s commonly held by both consumers and industry alike that the metaverse – whatever it is – will eventually become as ubiquitous and popular as social media. So why?

Some of that excitement comes from the metaverse’s potential as a social gathering place that can unlock new, shared experiences in ways current platforms cannot replicate – such as attending a concert or sporting event via VR technology. Much of the metaverse relies on virtual interactions using augmented reality, virtual reality or shared reality – think “VR headset” with a host of potential add-ons.

As adoption inevitably grows, just like any channel in today’s funnel, marketers are figuring out how to get their brands in front of consumers in meaningful and engaging ways. Some brands leverage the metaverse as a way to engage with their customers while they’re not in a physical store. For example, Wendy’s launched a campaign to let users sit in a virtual Wendy’s, with access to games and experiences that offer coupons to their actual restaurants. No longer beholden to traditional advertising spaces, companies can innovate in the metaverse in ways that a 300×250 banner could never allow.

Inclusivity is another important brand opportunity in the metaverse. Because avatars can be used to represent an individual, minority groups see the metaverse as a place that can be more equitable than the real world. Unilever’s Degree brand recently launched a meta-based campaign called “the Metathon experience” where users design avatars from a library that includes racing wheelchairs, prostheses and blades. They can then race alongside paralympic athletes like Amy Purdy and Blake Leeper. In this way, Unilever is engaging with their consumer base more directly and building a community in all-new (and more inclusive and customizable) ways.

Note that the metaverse isn’t just for B2C brands, and companies in the B2B space are beginning to capitalize on this new channel as well. For example, as a means to cut travel expenses and find a new twist on a traditional tactic, tradeshows can now be hosted virtually via the metaverse – allowing brands to engage audiences with products and solutions that go beyond the limitations of the physical world. Note also that business decision-makers of today grew up on videogaming. These new leaders may be more inclined to convert in newer digital channels than their predecessors – something the metaverse could enable quite easily.

Where will marketing in the metaverse go from here? Major brand executives don’t know for certain. But even in these early stages, 4 in 10 marketing executives believe the metaverse will have a major impact on their organization. And those 6 other executives may be like those who thought the internet was just a passing fad in years past. Those who don’t look to take the lead, risk getting left behind.