Imagine a day in the not-too-distant future.
You wake up, put on your smart glasses and head to work in your company’s virtual meeting room. You sit across the desk from your colleagues and this quarter’s sales figures materialise in front of you – you interact with the graphics, model changes, interpret analytics, build campaigns and project forecasts in real time.
At lunch, you step back to the real world, and an advert for a solution to next quarter’s challenges catches your eye. You focus in on it and the graphics sprawl into the street beside you. It’s exactly what you’ve been looking for.
Welcome to the metaverse.
If that sounds like hell to you – and to many, it does – then allow us to humbly introduce our hot take. (Because the internet needed another.)
The metaverse signals a move beyond traditional advertising towards new brand experiences that are more engaging, more immersive and more targeted than ever before.
B2B is the only ethical application of the metaverse
As Mark Zuckerberg’s most ambitious fever dream becomes reality – or augmented reality – we, like many, have been pondering the ethics involved.
Facebook has been a *thing* for 18 years. Eighteen years. Once you’ve got your head around that mildly alarming fact, consider this... Eighteen years, and we still have relatively little idea of what it’s doing to our minds. Throw Instagram, X, TikTok, LinkedIn into the mix… and we’re performatively documenting every aspect of our lives for the dopamine hit of approval from others.
The human brain isn’t wired to digest the amount of information we already take on on a day-to-day basis. The updates, the notifications, the endless scrolling. We’ve reached a point in history where we have to actively take steps to turn a device off so that we sleep. Sleep!
We know that social media has shortened attention spans, simplified arguments to binary opposing thoughts, made us more insecure and just generally wasted a lot of everyone’s time.
But it’s not going anywhere. And as a bunch of digital marketers, we don’t really want it to. So, how do we make it more ethical?
Here’s where we posit that b2b marketing is actually the metaverse’s only ethical application.
Every buyer’s a human, yada yada
It’s trite, but true. Every b2b marketing agency worth their salt has spouted the ‘business buyers are also human’ line, and yes. They are. But they’ve mainly got their professional heads on.
Betty Blue-Sky, CMO of MoonCorp (please note, made up), isn’t going to spend her annual budget on your latest SaaS solution just because your subject line made her smile. Yes, it helps. And yes, the devil must always be buried in the detail to create campaigns of any quality – but rational, strategic decision making closes the deal.
So while our most human needs, social lives and familial interactions are increasingly commodified for the sake of our personal brands, and often at the expense of our personal lives, perhaps we should start to consider digital primarily a place for professional communication and information sharing – and the metaverse the next iteration of that.
The personal as physical, the professional virtual. Next level LinkedIn. Because in the business to business context, the efficiencies and opportunities of digital are unquestionable.
So what does the metaverse mean for marketers?
The metaverse signals a move beyond traditional advertising towards new brand experiences that are more engaging, more immersive and more targeted than ever before. It’s packed with innovative marketing potential – from virtual product launches to immersive demos – that will allow B2B marketers to take their ideas to the next level.
People will exist physically and virtually, giving brands the opportunity to reach their audience in totally new ways. Brands will have free rein over their virtual space, able to create immersive experiences people can interact with in the metaverse – anything from virtual showrooms, interactive demonstrations, or even avatar experts. Augmented reality will allow brands to push the boundaries of creativity in the real world, too, providing an opportunity for more engaging, less invasive advertising to exist all around us.
Just as digital marketing has exponentially increased access to audience analytics and insights, the metaverse will take targeting to the next level. Much more data will be available - biometric, health, evermore nuanced preferences - and it’ll be more precise and more valuable. Advertising will be able to pop into our space in a much more sophisticated way than Instagram stories – which is already much more sophisticated than TV advertising. Mass marketing will be a thing of the past.
Marketing in the metaverse is participatory rather than passive; open-ended not scripted.
The possibilities are endless.
Making the move to meta
Transitioning your marketing to the metaverse may sound like an impossible task, but if you think creatively, keep your audience in mind, and always stay true to your brand, you’re on the right track.
ABM on acid
In the metaverse, your target audience isn’t limited by geography or budget, but by creativity. You can access more people, tap into different audiences and occupy alternative spaces. If you build it, they will come.
Keep in mind the value of millennials and Gen Z as a target market. These digitally literate generations are already avid users of virtual reality in the gaming space, and will likely be the first to make the move into other realms of the meta world. They’ll make up the majority of your market in the future, so it’s worth bearing them in mind now.
Don’t get giddy
Whatever your plans for the metaverse, make sure you stay true to your brand. Create marketing experiences that tie in with real-world experiences, or mirror what you already do in the real world. What might be right for one brand may seem totally misjudged for another.
People are paying serious money for NFTs, but jumping on the bandwagon to sell expensive collectibles could be seen as exploitative or damagingly off-brand if not done correctly.
Cool your servers
At the moment, the data-centre processing, cloud services and energy consumption necessary for the metaverse to run come at a huge environmental cost. It’s taking its toll on the environment, so think creatively about how you can use existing platforms to make your virtual brand stand out in a sustainable way.
Expand to fill the space available
Marketing is all about thinking creatively and telling stories your audience can’t help but engage with. The same stands in the metaverse. Ideas are currency, so encourage your creative teams to expand their minds and push the limits of every medium available to them.