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How Mobile Ushers in the Metaverse for Marketers

Posted Feb 16, 2022

If there’s any one word on marketers’ tongues these days, it’s “metaverse.” While the concept was gaining traction amongst gaming and esports experts for years as games like Roblox and Epic’s Fortnite brought gamers into worlds populated with characters from multiple IPs, the term leveled up with Facebook’s announcement last year that they would instead become Meta, and focus on building the metaverse. 

What is the Metaverse? 

To some, the metaverse is a single shared experience that anyone can access and blends seamlessly with reality. To others, it’s the end-state of the Internet-of-Things, together with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), like a big pool with a Pokémon Go-style shallow end and full immersion of haptic bodysuits deep end.  

There are two key ideas that many takes on the metaverse miss though. The first is that by definition, like Christopher Lambert in Highlander, there can only be one. While Roblox and Fornite might compete and be expansive universes, they are still not “Meta.”  The second is that it will, as predicted by Ready Player One, be driven by gamer adoption, and like with the inclusion of ads on mobile, gamers can be picky. 

(The third is that the concept pre-dates most of the fiction around it and a large portion of most people’s vision for the metaverse is actually just a multi-user dungeon or MUD.)

As users already go to mobile games for fun, entertainment, and to catch up with friends, how can brands reach these users in an authentic, meaningful way that won’t take away from the game environment? Charles Hambro, CEO of a gaming consultancy platform, Geeiq, emphasizes the importance of enriching the user experience and “value-add over the advertising opp, cultivating experiences that bring users together and speak to the platform.” 

With more consumers than ever before not only playing games but also making purchases and socializing in this medium, brands have an opportunity to reach a wide range of diverse consumers. Some major brands have already jumped on the bandwagon, like Gucci and Nike, but more and more players are figuring out how they can also enter the gaming ecosystem. 

When it comes to making an impact within the metaverse, brands must think strategically about how their content fits into the atmosphere of the game and how users will interact and react to seeing the brand in this space. 

Consumers don’t want to see just an ad within the gaming space; they are looking for content that will allow them to expand on gameplay and bring something new and unique to the game. If done correctly, brands have a massive opportunity to reach mobile gamers in a space where they are engaged and ready to interact with quality content. 

The Future is Now

One aspect of the concept of the metaverse that adtech pundits may have missed is an important one: It may already be here. It’s just called “The Internet.” 

The Internet has grown A LOT, especially over the past 20 years since Web 2.0 became a thing. While some have begun referring to metaverse concepts as “Web 3.0,” the distinction is becoming somewhat moot — without the Internet as a backbone, none of these concepts can exist. IMDB moves along the same pipes as Halo, and Clash of Clans uses the same cell signals as YouTube and Spotify. Instead of the Internet being purely iterative, it is now evolutionary, and the evolution to the metaverse has already occurred, though it’s not yet over, either. 

Thanks to the ubiquity of mobile devices, especially amongst Millennials and Gen Z, there are few moments today where people aren’t connected. Smart wearables like watches take this to another level. Gaming on mobile devices continues to look more and more like AAA gaming and consoles and PC, and with 5G and eventually 6G, the game’s streaming space will blur that line even further. 

The metaverse may not be a singular event where consumers unplug from reality or begin to have difficulty separating the real from the virtual, but instead a continuum or a spectrum of connectivity, one we are already well down the road of. 

For marketers wanting to make their mark in this space early, now is the time. With rumors of AR’s inevitable (Google Glass where art thou?) wearable explosion tied to portability and also likely tied to the processing power of the most intimate devices in peoples’ lives, having your brand leveraging mobile is the first big key to success in “The Metaverse.”

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