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What does the Metaverse mean to consumers and marketers?

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What does the Metaverse mean to consumers and marketers?


A new study from Gartner found that consumer opinions about the metaverse are vague and largely uncertain. Marketers should keep this in mind as they look at new ways to engage consumers in virtual spaces.

Only 6% of consumer respondents told Gartner that they were “very familiar” with the metaverse and that they “understand and can describe it to others.” And only 21% said they were “somewhat familiar.”

That leaves nearly three quarters of consumers who have murkier ideas on the subject. 38% have heard of the metaverse, but aren’t sure what it means. A full 35% percent have never heard of it.

Why we care. Talk of the metaverse came almost out of nowhere last year when Facebook’s parent company changed its name to Meta. Since highs in September 2021, the company’s stock valuation has been cut nearly in half.

But there is more to this meta-talk than just saving an ailing tech giant. Marketers are always looking for new ways to connect with consumers meaningfully and deeply. Here’s a look at where marketing opportunities exist now, or in the near future.

Metaverses and other virtual experiences. Generally speaking, “Metaverse” can mean any number of ways that brands provide VR or interactive 3D-image experiences.

Read next: Marketers look to upgrade their 3D digital experience

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“From the onset of the pandemic, companies have worked to aggressively reshape the digital experience for browsing and discovery, but also virtual try-ons and augmented reality furniture-buying experiences,” said Kyle Rees, senior director analyst in the Gartner for Marketing Leaders practice. “These are the companies that people today expect [to be involved in the Metaverse]. If it’s not Facebook, it’s a big retailer. Virtual shopping is not necessarily surprising, but it’s a signal to marketers – to what level should I pay attention to this?”

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Trusting the metaverse. With all these different virtual experiences, and many more on the horizon, the association with Facebook might not help an early adopter brand.

In the Gartner survey, only 18% of respondents said they are “primarily excited” about impacts the metaverse may have, while 21% said they were “primarily concerned” about the metaverse. 60% had no opinion.

If consumers associate the metaverse with Mark Zuckerberg’s company, that opens a lot of negative associations pulled from recent headlines about the toxic effects some social media platforms have on impressionable minds, as well as public discourse and even democracy.

Adding to the distrust are reports of new poorly regulated virtual environments that cast all the evils of the old Internet into stark 3D.

The metaverse, or metaverses, have to define themselves outside of the company Meta, and they also have to demonstrate that they are safe and secure spaces.

“I think Facebook rightly or wrongly made a very deliberate trademark grab [by changing the parent company’s name to Meta],” said Rees.” There are a fair amount of consumers who associate Facebook with the metaverse. And a corollary to that, and they’re open-ended associations, is that ‘I don’t trust Facebook,’ or they think it’s more isolated and that the metaverse is just another way Facebook is trying to make more money off of them.”

He added that the association with Meta is not necessarily a positive one, and that there’s a great need for a massive learning and education initiative to help clear the air and build trust.

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Gaming. If in the early stages, most consumers are confused, out-of-the-loop or distrustful, there is a cohort primed for metaverse adoption among the gaming community. Gamers have been interacting in virtual worlds with each other and with brands for years. 

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“Gamification is already built into the metaverse,” Rees said.

The question for the future metaverse, and for marketers looking to get involved, is can this acceptance scale to an even larger audience of non-gamers?

Rees says a crucial feature that will have to be a part of this growth is interoperability. If a brand in retail, or in any other industry, builds a storefront in the metaverse, consumers will have to be able to access it with a number of devices in a seamless way.

Ads in the metaverse. A busy street in the metaverse won’t resemble the IRL world unless it has billboards and other branded environments.

London-based ad platform AdRunner is looking to help monetize the virtual real estate in the metaverse using a decentralized community-led ad interface built on the Ethereum blockchain.

“We are building a decentralized ad architecture that can best leverage the protocols used by dominating platforms,” said AdRunner’s CMO Chris Rios. “The metaverse landscape will take time to create a cohesive and shared experience across all platforms.”

Read next: Marketers – the Metaverse is coming

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Tied loosely together with NFTs. “Until then we will see a set of disparate ‘intranets’ that are loosely tied together, similar to the late 1990s when pockets of interaction occurred in chat rooms and one-off websites until companies like Google, Facebook, and YouTube shaped the Internet into a cohesive social space,” Rios explained. 

He added, “We see the development of the metaverse happening in a similar way. There is huge value addition in spaces already leveraging internal payment structures, like Roblox’s Robux, as these will likely be tied to NFT marketplaces and provide users with customized experiences or abilities. NFT marketplaces will likely be critical to the adoption of Web3 and will work akin to certificates or “passports” within the metaverse.

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update

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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update

Old Navy will update its yearly Fourth of July promotions by saluting the metaverse with an NFT drop, going live June 29.

In honor of the year they were founded, the retailer will release 1,994 common NFTs, each selling for $0.94. The NFTs will feature the iconic Magic the Dog and t include a promo code for customers to claim an Old Navy t-shirt at Old Navy locations or online.

“This launch is Old Navy’s first activation in web3 or with NFTs,” an Old Navy spokesperson told MarTech. “As a brand rooted in democratization and inclusivity, it was essential that we provide access and education for all with the launch of our first NFT collection. We want all our customers, whether they have experience with web3, to be able to learn and participate in this activation.”

Accessible and user-friendly. Any customer can participate by visiting a page off of Old Navy’s home site, where they’ll find step-by-step instructions.

There will also be an auction for a unique one-of-one NFT. All proceeds for the NFT and shirt sales go to Old Navy’s longtime charitable partner, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Additionally, 10% of NFT resales on the secondary market will also go to Boys & Girls Clubs.

Support. This activation is supported by Sweet, who’s played a major role in campaigns for other early NFT adopters like Burger King.

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The Old Navy NFTs will be minted on the Tezos blockchain, known for its low carbon footprint.

“This is Old Navy’s first time playing in the web3 space, and we are using the launch of our first NFT collection to test and learn,” said Old Navy’s spokesperson. “We’re excited to enable our customers with a new way to engage with our iconic brand and hero offerings and look forward to exploring additional consumer activations in web3 in the future.”

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Read next: 4 key strategies for NFT brand launches

Why we care. Macy’s also announced an NFT promotion timed to their fireworks show. This one will award one of 10,000 NFTs to those who join their Discord server.

Old Navy, in contrast, is keeping customers closer to their owned channels, and not funneling customers to Discord. Old Navy consumers who don’t have an NFT wallet can sign up through Sweet to purchase and bid on NFTs.

While Macy’s has done previous web3 promotions, this is Old Navy’s first. They’ve aligned a charity partner, brand tradition and concern for the environment with a solid first crack at crypto.


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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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