Brand, Campaigns & Content

Five key takeaways: the CMO’s guide to the metaverse

Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke
Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke
Marketing Director UK
Manchester

We’re about to hit a 3D, interactive AR technical age. It’s going to be awesome.

The metaverse is the digital twin of our current reality. It is new, it’s moving fast and here to stay. So what do marketers need to know? On July 8th 2021, we were joined by Tom Rockhill, Chief Commercial Officer of disguise, Paul Doyle of Epic Games and Louis De Castro and Quentin De Fougeroux from Mado XR Studio to discuss how brands can harness the power of extending the customer experience into a whole new reality.

The event, hosted in partnership with xR technology provider, disguise, took attendees on a real-time xR experience of the metaverse. Even though Rockhill and our own Director of Technology, Isabel Perry, at Byte (part of Dept) were actually at our London xR stage, they journeyed through the metaverse – showing marketers what is possible.

Thanks to this revolutionary technology, Perry attended a fashion show, tried on a virtual outfit, took selfies next to flying cars and journeyed through ancient ruins, waterfalls, islands and up an elevator into a cocktail lounge with an aquarium.

The event did not just show off the capabilities of xR, it also held an important discussion on what it is and how brands can benefit from it. These were the top five takeaways:

1. The metaverse will be the next major marketing channel
The metaverse is tipped by many as the successor to the internet as we know it today: a digital twin of our world, encountered in both augmented and virtual interconnected realities as a persistent and synchronous experience. These experiences will be interoperable, meaning you’ll be able to translate digital experiences into the real world and vice versa. 

The metaverse already has its own economy, which will benefit individual creators within it, but we also expect to see new global companies to replace the incumbent digital giants.

Investors are taking notice. You can now invest in the metaverse on the New York Stock Exchange. Epic Games recently raised a billion dollars to fund their vision for it. Bloomberg estimates that it is already worth $800 billion.

2. Brands are already using the metaverse to engage audiences
The metaverse signals a move beyond traditional display advertising towards creating brand experiences, which are more engaging and exciting, and less invasive than adverts as we see them today.

Ways of doing this include releasing a digital version of a new product or experience, creating a game or a performance in a virtual space, or inviting audiences into a digital world. For example, Balenciaga has held virtual fashion shows. Gucci has created digital-only products. Star Wars created an island within the Fortnite game which allowed users to watch a film clip; and, also inside Fortnite, DJ Marshmello performed to 11 million virtual viewers.

These digital experiences and items may be free or paid, and people are already interacting with them on digital platforms. Not only is the digital world providing a potential new revenue stream, but it can also translate into real-world sales and revenue.

3. Extended reality makes the metaverse possible
Extended reality (xR) is an umbrella term for real-time, immersive video content that makes the metaverse possible, by combining:

AR or augmented reality – the technology enabling digital graphics, props or characters to sit in the real world from the viewpoints of the camera. 
MR or mixed reality – the ability to blend augmented reality in the foreground with LED backdrops or video content in the background to place people inside digital worlds.

4. The metaverse creates a more personalised experience
Brands and artists in particular can provide more tailored, personalised and meaningful experiences to fans, as the nature of the metaverse is that it is uniquely experienced by every individual user. We saw Billie Eilish performing via livestream last year, making people feel they were “inside the performance”, according to Rolling Stone. The metaverse also reaches across many other industries including film production, TV broadcasts, brand experiences, education and corporate conferences and communication. 

We’re already seeing AR and digital graphics taking over our day-to-day experiences – for example, broadcast events are using AR to hype up the crowds and bring performers into the space. Even if people aren’t entering the metaverse as a conscious choice, virtual content is already becoming a fixture of branded experiences.

5. Technological innovation will power the future of the metaverse
The disguise software is designed to help creators plan, design and sequence immersive worlds. It automates many of the tricky nuts-and-bolts elements like colour and spatial calibration to ensure accuracy and to realise ambitious creative vision. 

Coupled with other key technologies like Unreal Engine’s ability to power real-time graphics projected onto LED screens, as well as camera tracking technologies’ ability to send camera tracking data and allow for real-time graphics updates all means the cost of creating these experiences is going down while the quality of the experience is going up.

It’s important to remember that, as we’re still at the very beginning of this technology, it will be essential to work with technologists and futurists who can create the vision: a deep and ingrained understanding of what’s possible will be key to unlocking its power for branded experiences as we enter this new era.

As Doyle said in the virtual event panel, “much like the internet and mobile technology were major transformations and major technical ages, now we’re about to hit a 3D, interactive AR technical age. It’s going to be awesome.”

Questions?

Mellissa Flowerdew Clarke

Marketing Director UK

Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke

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