The idea of a “Metaverse” has been around for a while, but ever since Facebook was rebranded to “Meta” the interest around the idea has skyrocketed.
Big companies like Disney and the NFL have thrown their names into the virtual arena, and the cost of buying land in Metaverse communities has increased dramatically over the past 6 months.
There is also real public interest Metaverses supported by virtual reality. Metaverses like Decenterland have gained millions of users in the past year, and artists like Ariana Grande have hosted festivals on Fortnite servers.
But it is worth questioning: how can an environment hosted by VR/AR support a new market? And what can businesses do to capitalize on this growing space?
The metaverse is part of what experts call “Web 3.0” — the most recent development of the internet. In Web 3.0, individuals actually own their digital assets and can take to the metaverse to socialize, play, create, and trade digital assets like non-fungible tokens (NFT) or parcels of virtual land.
But the metaverse isn’t just a VR-supported stock exchange. At its core, the metaverse is more like a video game that leverages technology like Oculus headsets to immerse users in a virtual reality that is engaging, community-driven, and fun — think The Sims meets social media.
The easiest way to understand the metaverse is to see it in action. Johanna Stern, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, spent a day immersed in the metaverse and was able to socialize, play, exercise, and work within different metaverse software programs.
It might sound like a gimmick, but developments in the metaverse already generate over $1 trillion of revenue and are set to expand in value as technology and law catches up to programmer’s creativity.
The sheer amount of money that flows through the metaverse should get businesses from all sectors interested, as there seems to be a real first-mover advantage emerging from investments into the metaverse — it just takes some creativity.
Capitalizing on the metaverse is all about transferring real-world operations into a virtual platform. This will require ingenuity on the part of business leaders, and will largely depend upon visionary product managers who have a clear understanding of the metaverse, Web 3.0, and the product/service that businesses provide.
Product managers can help businesses pivot towards the metaverse by setting a clear roadmap that lays out a businesses’ journey from its current operations into the new metaverse market. This requires strategic thinking from product managers, who will have to gain a deep understanding of the metaverse, and must be able to communicate clearly to employees who do not understand the potential of an online, virtual reality market.
Being an early adopter in the metaverse will also give businesses the freedom to explore or expand the scope of their offering. While many existing markets are oversaturated with competition, the metaverse is relatively new ground for most industries. This means businesses can take time to find a niche that works for them and can gain a massive market share before competitors catch up.
Marketing in the digital space is being revolutionized by VR and AR services. Marketing campaigns in VR create immersive experiences for users, and virtual events are being used to launch and promote new products. These exciting developments are only enhanced by the adoption of the metaverse.
Marketing in the metaverse is incredibly efficient compared to marketing in the real world, as businesses can target their campaigns towards more specific audiences.
Compare, for example, the effectiveness of a billboard advert in the real world compared to in the metaverse. In the real world, businesses have no way of knowing who will see their billboard advert and can only estimate the revenue that the advert generated. In the metaverse, different billboard campaigns can be shown to different users who are navigating the virtual space. This means businesses only advertise to their best leads and can track the efficacy of a campaign directly through analytics.
The metaverse looks like a good business opportunity right now, but emerging markets are always volatile, and changing laws or regulations could turn the metaverse from a profitable utopia into a cash-guzzling dystopia for business.
Some even feel that the hype around the metaverse is about 10 years too early, as the content creation tools available to users are not sophisticated enough to build an immersive experience.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that, in web 3.0 (which will support the development of the metaverse) businesses own their content and investments, and these assets are secured by blockchain databases that store and track transactions on a peer-to-peer ledger without the need for a centralized third party like a government or a bank.
Even with the security of a blockchain, companies who invest in the metaverse opportunity must employ or subcontract cybersecurity professionals. Cybersecurity experts can ensure that businesses’ information is stored securely, and can help prevent security breaches or theft while businesses transfer their operations into the metaverse. This will give business leaders peace of mind and will ensure companies’ important data stays safe.
The metaverse isn’t new, but it is gaining traction at an incredible pace. Big-name brands are piling in and getting their corporate elbows out, and small tech businesses are finding ways to explore and expand their operations through the VR spaces.
As more users spend more time in these virtual spaces, businesses can create bespoke VR business plans that capitalize on the emerging metaverse market. However, these businesses should be careful to ensure that their data is protected by leaning on cybersecurity experts who are working at the cutting edge of VR, Web 3.0, and cryptocurrencies.