Digital Transformation (Part 2): Diving into The Metaverse…Ready…Set…Go!

Metaverse as a digital marketing strategy - behtash moojedi
I was always fascinated by the concept of alternative realities. The idea of having a group of multiple universes that together comprise everything that exists, whether time, space, matter, energy, information, laws, and constants in the universe is very intriguing. Numerous books, stories, movies, and games base their notion on alternate realities or multiverses.

As I began to hear more about VR (Virtual realities) and AR (Augmented Realities), I started thinking about the concept of multiverses more and more. Of course, there are a lot of differences between the two concepts, but at the base, they are relatively the same.

So naturally, when I heard about metaverse, I had to put the pen on the paper and start writing about it.

But there is a lot more to metaverses than what is being done by companies like Facebook. Also, there is the technology and then the impact of that technology on the environment and the businesses.

For that, I decided to create a series on digital transformation to discuss some of the buzzwords running through online communities. The series was supposed to be done in the video, but I could not fight the urge to write about them. So here we are…

I covered the “NFT as the digital marketing strategy” in the first part of the digital transformation series, where I went deep into explaining the NFT and whether or not you should spend time creating strategies surrounding the concept.

Today I want to write about metaverses, another fascinating transformation that will have both short and long-term effects on our lives.

On October 28, 2021, Facebook, the company that owns Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp, rebranded to Meta. The rebrand was announced for this company to focus on the metaverse.

This term is not so new to many. The first time, metaverse was mentioned in the 1992 novel Snow Crash written by the Sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson, referring to a 3D virtual space. In this novel, the protagonist Hiro moves in and out of place called the metaverse, which appeared to be a small-scale urban landscape created by code that allowed the users to have life-like experiences. Remember the phrase “3D virtual space” we will get back to it later during the article.

Virtual spaces were created on small scales in the years to come to that created online communities and allowed users to interact with one another, find friends and engage in social activities such as playing games and making friends.

That said, the metaverse is something different and, in many ways, reflects the traits of the virtual world mentioned in the novel:
  1. Metaverse is three-dimensional
  2. It is a metaphor for the real-life/ real-world
  3. Users can access this world through using goggles, like the current VR headsets
  4. The world is from the first-person perspective
  5. Avatars can be partially or fully customizable.
You might have seen the newer concept in many shows and movies, such as the Black Mirror on Netflix.

And now…South Korean millennials and Gen Z are gathering in these virtual worlds. As a result, the word metaverse is gaining more and more attention in tech and businesses.

The question is, how much do we know about metaverse?

Metaverse is quite a broad term and can be explained in many ways. Generally, this term can refer to an alternative three-dimensional space that allows users to interact with it in a much more immersive way.

Compared to how linear a website looks, metaverse provides the user with way more to engage with, giving engagement a whole new expectation and meaning.

This will be a new generation of the internet, in which interaction will look different. To Mark Zuckerberg’s point, “We shouldn’t physically be together to feel present or to collaborate or brainstorm […]”.

Meta is, of course, not the only company focusing heavily on the virtual worlds. The term is quite popular in Silicon Valley and has other companies such as Microsoft working hard to connect the real and alternative world.

There is a different type of metaverse that works alongside blockchain technologies such as NFTs. In my previous article, I wrote about the virtual worlds in which companies and people are purchasing landscape and earning income through advertisement, art, voxels (consider their raw material for building other things such as buildings, clothing, cars, and many more in the metaverse), construction, real estate and more. I mean…really…one can literally create pay-to-play model games on virtual space and make money.

Isn’t that neat…

Now, let’s make sure we review and understand what we need to know as future marketers and businesspeople.

Of course, when technology changes, it tends to create some challenges and some opportunities. Looking back at the way traditional marketing was changed by digital marketing. Take the TV advertising model, for example. Advertisers purchased ad spots at designated times, per channel, and programming. What was the key determinant of that decision? Size and make-up of the program audience. Same with radio and print advertising. So, the key was to show your brand as many times and as often as possible to increase sales and foot traffic.

Then came digital marketing. While still a linear experience, it altered the way marketers and businesses engaged with their audiences. New opportunities and ventures became a possibility. The availability of behavioral data, A|B testing, targeted advertisement, making income through social media, esports…all became a possibility. The way success was determined by marketers, and the expectations changed.

As of 2020, more than half of all advertising budget is spent in the online space. In addition, TV advertising has changed with IoT and data availability. The evolution of online space, therefore, is impactful to any industry. I can write about the transformation for days, but we are here to discuss something else…the latest web transformation to web 3.0, with one of its most significant components being the “metaverse.”

So how can we grasp something that doesn’t exist? Indeed, give it a try. Knowing how web 2.0, social media, and user-generated content changed the relationship between brands and consumers, web 3.0 will have a significant impact on the brand-consumer relationship. Those ready for the shift will prosper, and those who are unprepared to make the jump might be left behind.

In this article, I do my best to cover all the possibilities and challenges brands might face in the near or far future with metaverse. Then, I will try to answer some of the questions that I thought hard about in the past few months and finally give you the best prediction of the future of digital marketing in the universe of meta.

What I’ll Cover in this article:
  1. Importance of Metaverse for Businesses
  2. Can Metaverse Impact the Future of Marketing in B2B Space?
  3. How can Metaverse Impact Your Content Strategy & SEO?
  4. Challenges Facing Web 3.0?
So, without further ado… Let’s dive into the metaverse.

So, buckle up; this will be a fun one!

Importance of Metaverse for Businesses

Let’s run a few scenarios together:

Scenario 1: 

You are at the office, have so much on your mind, and want to organize your thoughts. Maybe you are in a meeting, and you need to take notes but want to make sure those notes are immediately turning into actionable tasks in your backlog of tasks. What if you were to have a virtual assistant that was able to do all that for you? All you had to do was wear your eyewear (No, I don’t mean gigantic goggles) and bring your virtual assistant to the meeting with you?

using augmented reality and metaverse changes the retail experience in the future - behtash moojedi
Scenario 2: 

You are sitting at home, and you are browsing through the internet. Maybe you are walking in the street window shopping. Suddenly you think of a product that you want to purchase. Immediately, a purchasing kiosk or a vending machine appears with variations of the product you were just thinking about. You can interact with it, try out the product, decide to purchase, ship it to your house and continue with your day.

Scenario 3: 

You are ahead of a large department, and your employees and coworkers work remotely across multiple regions and countries. You want to create a more collaborative environment in which you all can engage in discussions, positive brainstorming, and solve problems. Each while sitting at home, create a virtual space where you can gather around and sit next to each other and begin the collaboration process.

Welcome to the alternate digital reality, that is, The Metaverse. Where all those scenarios and more are possible. People can use a space to socialize, work, play, or engage in business transactions without leaving their house.

This is a huge shift in the direction of online culture. Because it can cover and impact almost everything from the economy to culture to shopping, entertainment, education, and more. And it came about at the right time as the pandemic shifted the way we interact with each other and the brands online. Weddings, family reunions, classes, meetings all were held online and over zoom. While also, social games are becoming increasingly more popular among users.

As marketing professionals, we must take this shift very seriously because we are literally witnessing the next generation of internet building in front of our eyes.

So how does such impactful technology affect brands and businesses?
  1. It creates creative opportunities to reach the consumer
  2. It will impact the way we interact with our audience
  3. Storytelling will shift to become more complex than ever
  4. Success must be determined in a new way
  5. Personalization will look different
  6. SEO will be more complex yet exciting
  7. New digital channels and media will be created to help brands connect with the consumer
Think about it this way…In your website’s 2D and linear space, you can talk about page views and average time spent on-site; you can speak of opens and clicks. However, in the 3D space, your success needs to be defined differently. We must measure our engagement by new benchmarks. If a minute ticks a green checkmark in the box right now, tomorrow, it might be an hour of interactivity between the consumer and the brand.

When telling the stories, marketers, and brands need to become creative. How will you tell your story in the 3D space, where the consumers’ minds can simultaneously engage multiple brands or multiple activities at the same time? Imagine if you are one of the brands in the space like Time Square. Not that easy to just be talking about product descriptions, sales, and coupons all day…right?

And there are already companies such as Ralph Lauren, Nike, Adidas, Chipotle, and Gucci, that are running to purchase space for their brands in the metaverse.

Dentistry 

On the consumer-facing side of dentistry, the opportunities are countless, for example, diagnostic wax-ups. Imagine overlaying the design on the existing denture and showing it to the patient with minimal time.

You might say, well, Behtash…those are all selling directly to the consumer…surely this will never work in the B2B space. But I’ll get to that too.

At the core, and when we are trying to figure out how this will impact the future of marketing, I can tell you that history has shown us that the challenges and opportunities will almost and relatively be the same in any space. For example, it is now essential to be a creative storyteller in B2B space and B2C. Do the stories differ? Yes. But they all should follow the same guidelines to be successful. We are all competing for the same audience, the humans.

Can Metaverse Impact the Future of Marketing in B2B Space?

B2B space was a slower adopter of digital media as a strategy during the last transformation to web 2.0. Speculations turned left the door open for the space to be filled with content and create noise, increasing the competition in the digital space. Advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube is no longer as easy as it could been years ago.

Now that metaverse is becoming a reality, how should we react to it? With technology changing so rapidly these days, waiting should not be the first approach.

Let’s first review some of the possibilities of utilizing the technology in the future.

High Ticket Items, Product Demos, Trade Shows and More

Anyone here heard of how Sephora partnered with researchers to identify ways to help customers identify scent through sight by engaging with specific colors, animations, and graphics?

While these are great possibilities that can eventually become a possibility in the metaverse, we will take it easy and just focus on the familiar experience with the majority of the B2B businesses. Product demos, trade shows, and sales process for selling high ticket items.

Imagine having the ability to create the entire experience of your product, your invention, the new complex technology you have created, and all in the virtual world. For example, creating a virtual walkthrough of the technology. Having prospects interact with it, grab it from their virtual space, and by utilization of augmented reality, bring the machine into their office space and imagine it sitting at the corner of the office. It can help a lot, right? That experience puts the client at ease, increases their ability to interact with the product on a whole new level, and allows them to physically imagine using/owning your product at their office. Suddenly, your brand doesn’t need to tell the entire story in a five-minute video but can create an environment that can be lived through in a virtual space.

How does Metaverse Impact Content Strategy & SEO? 

When it comes to content, brands cannot think in a 2D, linear way. The story is now described in three-dimensional. Considering augmented reality, the connection between the virtual and reality will become almost non-existent. So, marketers and brand strategists need to utilize VR and AR to innovate new ways to tell their stories, create new opportunities, collaborate, and bring forth an entire experience for their consumers in B2B and B2C spaces.

Same with SEO, linear outcomes are no longer an option to compete. If someone talks about shoes, shoes can be an option they purchase using augmented reality as they walk down the street.

The good news is that the opportunity to access the customers will tremendously increase.

The bad news is that we must adapt our strategies to work with the new technology. Otherwise, we cannot rinse and repeat our old ways in the latest technology and check the box. And I feel that most businesses will have a problem facing this challenge.

Concerns to Address with Metaverse:

Metaverses are huge and will become very important in our day-to-day lives, changing how we interact with each other and our environments. Many jobs will shift or gain a new shape and form because of the technology. The School system might change to become a fully remote experience in virtual space.

All that is great and exciting.

However, with innovation comes challenges and opportunities. We discussed opportunities. Now I want to address the concerns I foresee coming up before the technology gets fully implemented and in the right way.

Here is the breakdown of some of the challenges and concerns I think society will face as we implement the metaverse into our everyday lives.

Concerns with metaverse before it can be fully implemented as a business solution
I’m sure the list is much more extensive, but I think I want to cut the article at this point and allow us to regroup and discuss everything that we absorbed in this article. If you are here, and before you leave, think of what exciting opportunities might come to your industry with the rise of web 3.0. Also, think about the issues that might arise in your industry.

At the end of the day, metaverse looks very promising and offers a bright future in the world of technology and internet. There are opportunities for marketers and businesses to utilize this technology to connect with their audiences. However, as crowded as web 2.0 is today, it is easy to predict that it will be even more crowded in the 3D and interactive world of tomorrow. Brands and businesses must manage the change and be ready to take the leap. But the most important thing beyond the viability of the technology is its alignment with your business and your strategy. If it makes sense to use it, you should take the experimental opportunity to explore.

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