Since I wrote the series, there has been a lot more discussion about the metaverse.
For one, Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth and Nick Clegg defined the metaverse as “a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you. You’ll be able to hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create and more. It’s not necessarily about spending more time online — it’s about making the time you do spend online more meaningful.” They added: “The metaverse isn’t a single product one company can build alone. Just like the internet, the metaverse exists whether Facebook is there or not. And it won’t be built overnight. Many of these products will only be fully realized in the next 10-15 years.”
Wunderman Thompson published a report on the metaverse. From the foreword: “The virtual domain has become an all-encompassing space where commerce, education, entertainment, community-building, wellness, work and more can be accessed. As more people spend time online, digital third spaces are becoming the new hangouts, making this a thriving environment for brands and influencers. But the potential of the metaverse goes beyond the digital domain, allowing for interactions that blur the boundaries of physical and digital.” Their view is captured below:
The report covers an array of themes: MetaLives, MetaSpaces, MetaBusiness, and MetaSocieties. A few interesting ideas described:
- Virtual possessions: Consumers are replicating their physical daily habits in the virtual realm—assigning a growing value to digital assets and giving rise to new direct-to-avatar (D2A) business models.
- Liminal spaces: Blended virtual and physical experiences—are already revolutionizing the culture and art scenes. In future, expect to see similar blurred reality activations in retail spaces, brand hubs and business centers.
- Gamevertising: Bigger than the movie and music industries combined, gaming has become a playground for brands and marketers to connect with an engaged audience.
- New retail frontiers: Digital-twin stores and augmented shopping experiences are paving the way for the next retail frontier—one that is intuitive, immersive and engaging.
Alexander Fernandez wrote about the four key drivers behind the metaverse:
- The retirement of baby boomers and the rise of the digital-first Gen-X, Millennials, Xenial and Gen-Zers who grew up playing video games, surfing the web and traveling the world.
- The digitization of financial assets integrating across all aspects of life (for example, blockchain, smart contracts, cryptocurrencies and NFTs).
- The future of work as the pandemic revealed that most knowledge businesses could function remotely as long as they had transparent cultures, processes and technologies to support them
- The rise of the next two billion people as emerging markets in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa have become sources of raw talent eager to participate in the global economy.
He added: “Whether you’re looking at new ways to maintain brand loyalty, engage new customers or streamline your workflow, video game technology and methodology can be the key to unlocking them. It’s not only creative industries that benefit but also traditional industries like healthcare, transportation and education. Remember when gamification was a big deal? That was just the beginning. The third epoch of gaming has arrived, and it’s bringing the Metaverse with it. “
A column on Nasdaq.com: “The evolution of this metaverse, the merging of physical and virtual realities into something completely new, will usher in an enormously digitized economy. Digital currencies will utterly dominate, and political borders will become increasingly difficult to enforce in a virtual world. Current tax codes and regulations aren’t prepared to handle a virtual designer selling virtual clothes to avatars that can then resell them to others in this metaverse – wear and tear will be a bit lighter than on the streets of San Francisco. What about the virtual architect that designs a virtual home that can then be moved to anywhere in the metaverse … while the world today is struggling with enormous levels of debt, challenging demographics, social strife, and a pandemic, a whole new world is evolving. Within it, the human potential to solve problems, collaborate, create, and meaningfully connect in ways that defy geography and social biases will ultimately result in medical advances beyond what we can imagine today, wealth generation that will overpower today’s global financial challenges, and greater compassion for one another.”
A column from Brookings: “The seminal asset, and thus the seminal issue, in the digital era is access to—and control of—personal information. In the current online world, the digital companies have siphoned personal information and then stored, manipulated, and repackaged that data in order to sell access to targeted users. If the metaverse is moving to a persistent pseudo-world, then the amount of data collected will be immense, as will the opportunity to monetize that data.”
The metaverse action is just beginning and opening a new world of opportunities for brands to engage with their customers. Together with the blockchain, cryptocurrencies, NFT, DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation), Web3 beckons!