The digital marketing industry is expecting a huge boost in sales from virtual online worlds. However, whether B2B companies or consumer brands actually become active on so-called metaverse platforms also depends on the monitoring and analysis options.
How we define metaverse? For simplicity’s sake, a metaverse is a virtual, spatial online world in which each and every one of us can interact live with other avatars via a digital twin or avatar. For example, similar to some well-known 3D online games, in which concert broadcasts or movie premieres are already marketed.
Let’s look at the topic of Metaverse from a professional perspective, that of a marketing manager or digital marketer, and answer the most important questions about it:
Metaverse or Cyberspace?
Many industry terms in the digital sector originate from the science fiction literature of the last century. So is Cyberspace or Metaverse. Cyberspace has for many years been an established term for the Internet we are familiar with, which we usually enter via a web or mobile browser or app.
One possible evolution of cyberspace is a metaverse. The difference is: Metaverse visitors move spatially, their avatars are “in the middle of the action” in real time, instead of just looking “in” through a browser window. Example: When we enter an online store in the Metaverse, we are virtually standing in the store and can move in all directions. Similarly, one could imagine visiting a virtual trade show or a press conference: Our avatars are on site in virtual space, engage in conversation with other avatars, consume a concert or panel discussion, or participate in a virtual brainstorming session.
Why not Metaversen?
In fact, there are currently already over a dozen metaverse platforms and, according to digital industry estimates, several thousand more are in development. Switching virtually from one Metaverse platform to another is not yet possible – just as you can’t watch a Youtube movie on Netflix.
The key to an overarching, platform-independent metaverse is therefore the most comprehensive standardization possible at all relevant levels. Until then, it only makes sense to focus on individual metaverse platforms. Here are the most popular ones at the moment:
How do I get into the Metaverse?
Although Metaverse visitors can also enter most virtual worlds via smartphone or desktop apps, the 3D effect is somewhat lost, as well as the advantages offered by AR or VR, such as the simulation possibilities of real situations or the enrichment of virtual settings with real information in a so-called mixed reality.
Only VR headsets offer the desired user experience, both in the private sphere for gaming applications, for example, or in the business context for topics such as remote maintenance or virtual training.
How much does the Metaverse cost?
Regardless of the hardware with which users now enter a Metaverse environment: The prerequisites are powerful hardware with sufficient computing power, a cloud infrastructure that can handle large numbers of users, and scalable visualization software.
The business news service Bloomberg estimates the cost of the Metaverse infrastructure at several hundred billion dollars. Bloomberg contrasts these costs with revenue potential of a similar magnitude: Online games, live entertainment and advertising are expected to generate revenues of $500 billion to $800 billion in the next two years.
However, brands and companies that want to be active on a Metaverse platform need to be aware: Any kind of digital content would have to be produced or even animated in 3D to match the medium’s capabilities. This is a cost and resource factor that should not be underestimated.
I’m in. And now? What users do in the metaverse.
That’s right, the Metaverse isn’t just supposed to be good for gaming. The following applications also appear to make sense, at least in theory:
- work together: Collaboration in fields such as design or product development becomes more efficient and unambiguous in 3D.
- Consuming media: Virtual concert or cinema visits become more impressive.
- virtual tourism: thanks to 3D visualizations of places of interest, we can travel the whole world virtually.
- Meeting with friends: Taking a walk and exchanging ideas in a virtual environment is even more exciting than via Zoom.
- Telemedicine: Patients discuss a complex operation or treatment strategy with their doctor in a spatially separated, but visually supported manner.
- Teaching & training: A wide variety of media or demos can be integrated into a mixed reality.
- Home Shopping: Online stores come alive in 3D, visualizations of products or services have a stronger impact than descriptions
Some exciting developer environments for Metaverse applications are currently:
What are brands & companies already doing on different Metaverse platforms? Some specific industry examples.
Entertainment: Virtual spaces enable new storytelling formats. But traditional entertainment formats can also be integrated. Fortnite developer Epic Games has already hosted several concerts on the platform with audiences of millions; rapper Travis Scott, for example, was experienced “virtually live” by more than 12 million people.
Retail & Product Presentations: Online stores with a computer game look are designed to offer the ultimate immersive shopping experience, i.e. to “pull” the customer in more strongly. Customer visits are linked to incentives such as virtual goodies or limited-term campaigns, for example at Kaufland and Starbucks. Metaverse Fashion Week in March 2022 is said to have attracted over 100,000 virtual visitors, or avatars.
Energy industry: Siemens has linked its digital platform Xcelerator with the 3D developer platform of graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia. This can also be used, for example, to realistically simulate the projection of offshore wind farms. Using “digital twins”, real factories and plants can be designed, operated and maintained.
Healthcare: The health insurance company BKK Pfalz uses its smartphone BKK Pfalz VR World to provide tips on relaxation, health and ergonomic working – both for private use and for workplace health promotion.
Manufacturing industry: Design and planning processes are AR- or VR-supported in the Metaverse, stakeholders can be better involved. BMW uses the Omniverse platform from Nvidia for factory planning.
Public sector: Digital citizen services are offered by the first municipalities in the metaverse. Seoul, for example, is considered a pioneer, where a pilot project on a kind of virtual city hall was launched in May 2022.
Metaverse Monitoring & Analytics: Are there reliable KPIs from the virtual online worlds?
“Miss it or forget it” naturally applies to marketers or digital marketers in the metaverse. Individual platform operators offer analysis options for this, for example with regard to user numbers, dwell time or generated (crypto) sales.
However, meaningful communication controlling in virtual, three-dimensional space would also have to record KPIs on position in space, eye focus, head or hand movements, and even biological metrics such as “emotional stress” or heartbeat – and all this in a context to be defined. There are VR headsets that can capture such data, but their use still runs up against currently applicable data protection principles.
Reading data from metaverse platforms via APIs is therefore currently still a somewhat nebulous challenge – compared to the analysis of websites, apps or social media platforms. So for the time being, the efficiency of marketing in the metaverse is not yet measured by hard KPIs, but primarily by the news value of individual pilot projects.
Head of Marketing Communications
Stefan Richter holds a degree in journalism and has worked for several years as an editor and foreign correspondent for the press, radio and TV. After switching to PR, he worked as a press officer and consultant on the corporate and agency side. At Radiosphere, he is responsible for marketing communications.
Media Monitoring Analyst
Marek Hoyler is trained as an analyst for all types of media monitoring & analytics. He sets monitoring projects from various industries and configures monitoring dashboards tailored to them.
Photos and graphics: Radiosphere, Barbara Zandoval/Unsplash