Metaverse Marketing Unpacked, with Seth Godin, Steven Bartlett, Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose

Who's doing the meta better than meta? Who's more versatile in the verse? Well, according to a few top marketing geniuses - everyone.

Virtual Reality Reaction GIF by inwendo

There are predictions out there that the Metaverse could reach the $800B mark by 2024, as it is already sitting at around $47B thanks to a surge of interest in 2020 when the pandemic peaked. So, theres could be plenty of potential for marketers; but is it shiny new thing syndrome, or a chance to get ahead of the game? 

Meta itself has said it would spend $10B over the next year to develop the technologies required for building its metaverse. “Our hope is that within the next decade, the metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers,” said Zuckerberg in his founder's letter. 

Basically, the idea behind the metaverse is to create a space similar to the internet, but more tangible, so that users can interact with the world via digital avatars.

Plus, unlike the modern internet, metaverse users experience environmental changes in real-time. If a user makes a change to the metaverse, this shift is visible to everyone. 

In theory, you could sit around a virtual meeting table with colleagues from around the world, then break for lunch and head to a virtual art expedition, and then meet up for dinner with your friends when work ends. 

"We will see a shift in the way people play, work, learn or simply hang out in 2021," says David Bazucki, CEO and Founder of Roblox. 

Some big names are starting to see the marketing and business potential in the space:

  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has recently said that his company is working on building the "enterprise metaverse."
  • Epic Games reported a $1B funding round to support metaverse ambitions, pushing the Fortnite founder's valuation to nearly $30B.
  • Mark Zuckerberg has expressed his vision for turning Facebook into a "metaverse company," even stating that he began thinking about the concept in school.
  • Venture capitalist Matthew Ball helped launch an exchange traded fund so people can invest in the metaverse space, including companies like Nvidia and Roblox. 

There seems to be three categories of metaverse marketing:

  1. In-game products. These might be re-creations of real-world items, like a can on Monster Energy in 'Death Stranding'. 
  2. Integrated Ads. This'll be adverts taking spaces where they wouldn't look out of place in the real world, such as using billboards.
  3. Experiential and Events Marketing. Think Marvel and Fortnite's collaboration. 
    This partnership saw Thanos turn up as a playable character within Fortnite. Thanos was integrated into a specially designed game mode, and given a unique set of abilities within the game. Events might even look like a virtual art exhibition, like the one hosted around Metapurse, who purchased the Beeple 20 Collection for $2.2 million in December 2020. This led to Metapalooza – the virtual metaverse art and culture festival.

So, what do the biggest names in the industry think about the (potentially) biggest disruptor in the industry? Let's find out.

Seth Godin on The Metaverse: Overrated or Understated?

Seth-Godin-Headshot-Hex"Okay, so it's really important if you haven't read Snow Crash by Neil Stevenson, that you go read it. It's 25 years old. And he described the whole thing," said Seth at the #MarTechFest Dial Up.

It will help you become intuitive about what is actually being built here. And it's unclear whether it's a natural monopoly, the way Zuckerberg thinks it is that if someone builds one, they will win everything. I think that's unlikely."

Right now, the Metaverse is underdeveloped. Seth thinks what is being offered at the moment isn't attractive to customers. The fact is this: most people can live without it. 

A technology really thrives when someone thinks "I can't go without this. I don't want to live without this". 

However, that doesn't mean the metaverse wont get to this point. "That doesn't mean it's not gonna happen very soon, but it's not there yet," Seth says.

"And what we learn from this as marketers is, human beings are all different, but most of us want a very small basket of stuff. And that basket of stuff is emotional. It's not physical. And if you can figure out how to give People that feeling they are likely to respond to you.

So when Starbucks came along, there wasn't a coffee shortage in Singapore or Australia or North America. That's not what they sell. They sell a feeling that costs way more than coffee. And what the metaverse is going to sell to probably a billion people is just a straight up feeling."

Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi on The Metaverse: Digital Property and Tokenisation

For Joe: “the metaverse is a thing”.

There’s a whole movement around digital property. Communities are being built up, and brands are buying out property. It's likely you’ll soon have someone on your team focused on tokenisation and web 3, and what experiences your company is going to offer there.

For Robert: it's about one word - de-centralisation.

Everything will become decentralised. Fin-tech, de-fi will disrupt so much of what’s going on. Retail, supply chain, marketing all will become decentralised. The question people have to ask is "How are we, as a business, reacting to the disruption of decentralisation?" It's all about what results from the disruption of web 3.0 – and as a result, everything is becoming peer-to-peer.

Steven Bartlett on Web 3.0: Decentralised World, Decentralised Brands, Decentralised Creatives.

“Web3 is where everything becomes decentralised. We don’t need to rely on Amazon. We don’tSteven Bartlett need to rely on banks”

But Steven’s big prediction is around blockchain and NFTs.

But why does he think web 3.0, blockchain, and NFTs are so interesting?

We're seeing this tremendous desire, and opportunity, to shift to a more decentralised world for brands a creatives

So, this decentralisation isn’t just a case of cutting out harmful algorithms or middlemen, but can offer an entirely new economy for creatives.

There's an opportunity to bypass the traditional ways creators and influencers have made money in the past i.e., brands, agencies, and advertisers.

The reason digital creators haven't been in full control of their careers in the past is due to this; creators have often had to represent brands, or act in certain ways, to maintain their income.

Content creators may have millions of followers, and plenty of influence, but they'd still have to bend to the companies that fund them. This means they're not fully in control of their own image, brand, or personality.

Challenges in the Metaverse

As the Metaverse is new, the challenges are unprecedented. So, marketers have to be prepared. Striking a balance between prepping for this new frontier, and jumping in feet first is important. What should marketers look out for, then? Well:

  • Accessibility. Not everyone has access to the devices needed for the metaverse, such as higher-end computers, and VR lenses. So, this limits the ability for brands to reach entire groups, and hinders efforts for mass marketing.
  • Data Privacy, This is a big one. Data is a hot topic at the moment; people are becoming more and more aware of how brands utilise their personal information. So, with this new technology comes the need for more evolved security, built specifically for the metaverse. Spaces like IoT and the Metaverse will be a well of data, so marketers will have to be prepared to deal with this influx.
  • Image protection. Because the metaverse is (currently) free for everyone, and relies heavily on UGC. As a result, brands need to be prepared to keep their image PG. The more control users have in the metaverse, the higher the likelihood that your brand might appear next to questionable content.