A look back at the metaverse in 2022: Hype, investments and marketing moves
This year, 2022, can be considered a fruitful year for metaverse investments, though doubts about the viability of the virtual world still cross some stakeholders’ minds. Last year, companies and venture capital firms pooled $57 billion in stakes, but that amount has since been surpassed by the $120+ billion recorded this year, according to a report by McKinsey. Despite the tragic outing of Meta in Q3 2022, the computerized reality remains a mystery that plenty of businesses want to unravel and commercialize.
In an always-on environment where events occur in real-time, Gartner expects 25% of people to be in the digital space for at least one hour daily by 2026. The metaverse symbolizes a new way for individuals and companies to interact with technology. Its use cases stretch from the usual culprits like blockchain and gaming, to the rehabilitation of patients, digital fashion and much more. Some of the popular industry leaders actively involved in unlocking the metaverse’s seemingly limitless potential include Twitter, Microsoft and Spotify.
Although Web3 awareness is at an all-time high and translates into serious competition, Asaf Fybish CEO and cofounder of GuerillaBuzz, a Web3 marketing agency, believes there’s much to unravel in the next few years. Although Fybish admits that budgeting and strategy for short-term metaverse goals have recently changed due to the ‘bear market,’ he says, “marketing in the metaverse will become increasingly prioritized over the next two to four years ahead.”
On top of that, Fybish told VentureBeat that, “More [marketing] dollars would go into the metaverse in the next coming years as major brands continue to shift their marketing spending toward the emergent metaverse space.”
While allocating a sizable amount of an organization’s marketing budget to metaverse efforts might seem frivolous, the ability to develop and personalize new worlds for customers is a hill many are willing to die on.
Controversial, but growing
It’s not uncommon for new ideas to get fiercely contested, and that’s largely been the case for the metaverse in 2022. The blazing buzz about the metaverse seems to have divided many experts. Mark Zuckerberg’s explanation in 2021 described it as the next stage of technology where “you’re in the experience, not just looking at it.” However, respondents to a 2022 PEW Research study consider the metaverse to be the crop of marketing hype.
To Steve Wilson, one of the survey’s participants and founder of Lockstep Consulting, the metaverse “ is not well enough defined for us to make predictions about a fully immersive experience being more important by 2040.” Wilson believes it should be allowed to evolve naturally, noting that “digital renditions of reality may convey excitement, but then the risk of adoption isn’t receiving adequate consideration.”
Meanwhile, the differing opinions on what the metaverse is and should be hasn’t stopped its growth. Findings from Statista in 2021 revealed a market revenue of $38.85 billion and estimated the figure to hit $47.48 billion. In 2030, the segment is predicted to be worth at least $678.8 billion.
Just as different opinions of the metaverse’s capabilities exist, industry players have also unveiled varied purposes for it. And while opting to build virtual environments or enabling team collaboration using a digital community are two interesting — yet separate — paths, what should any brand expect from the virtual world next year?
Forrester predicts that many businesses will transition from employing customer-centric NFT art to providing extraordinary customer experiences. Hang, a business-to-business (B2B) startup, aligns with the research firm. Currently, it is focused on using NFTs to redefine loyalty programs for clients like Budweiser, Bleacher Report and Superfly.
As previously mentioned, some brands may leverage the artificial universe to elevate employee engagement. Workplace collaboration can increase productivity, raise the problem-solving rate and reduces the workload. One way to keep the team happy is to integrate metaverse-driven technology in the office. Forester also anticipates that frequent encounters with such tools will build familiarity, leading to widespread adoption for personal use.
Last year, Microsoft announced Mesh, a Teams feature that blends existing modes “Together” and “Presenter” to make remote meetings more immersive. Google, Slack and Zoom are expected to roll out similar offerings in the next year.
On another side of the coin, security concerns about the metaverse deserve serious considerations. Given that data collection in the virtual world is automatic and steady, the odds of these assets being stolen are great. Additionally, aspects of the metaverse like blockchain, AR and VR, are considered likely targets for hacks. Therefore, data security should be accounted for in the yearly budget to help teams truly scale in the relatively digital future.
Beyond its conceivable advantages and incredible market potential, it’s smart to question whether to invest in the fulfillment of a virtual realm. Despite a looming economic recession, corporations have sunk billions of dollars into this venture. However, spending on the cause isn’t enough; you need direction, too.
Partnering with trusted specialists in the industry gives companies access to proven techniques, as well as the guts to execute them. One of the outlets providing businesses with the much-needed focus on metaverse strategy is Invisible North. Similar to what Hang is doing, New York-based Invisible North aided the emergence of an on-site NFT experience at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this year. This is one of its many projects.
Apart from collaborating with creative agencies for long-term metaverse projects, businesses should also set realistic goals and be open to consistent iterations. One of the downsides to experimenting with a simulated reality is that it’s evolving, meaning that nothing is certain and that frequent innovation is needed. Perhaps this is why organizations looking to assume leadership in the metaverse must now consider appointing a chief metaverse officer — someone who can effectively serve as the conductor in the metaverse’s royal orchestra.
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