Accenture

Metaverse and the future of marketing

Social media moves at a breakneck speed and the latest version of its evolution is being touted to be the metaverse. A virtual environment, the metaverse is viewed as a network of virtual worlds where people can interact with each other in a more real, visceral way than what they do currently on social media. While tech companies are eyeing it as the next frontier for all our interactions, it may take a good amount of time for it to take shape and become the next big thing that it is being claimed as. The biggest companies in the tech world are all routing for this virtual world. Tech giants like Microsoft, Facebook, Roblox and Epic Games are among those trying to be the first in the race and have already made inroads in the space.

Metaverse in India

While India enjoys a high level of internet penetration and the cheapest data rates in the world, a full-fledged metaverse with its own crypto currency, the ability to have NFT, multi-player gaming, shopping and more is still not exactly round the corner. To immerse within the virtual world needs more than just a high-speed internet connection. To seamlessly interact within a virtual 3-dimensional world needs hi-tech hardware, too, like a virtual reality headset. There are several technical challenges to solve in order to get to the level of technological advancement to seamlessly enjoy a virtual experience in the metaverse.

A full-fledged, mainstream adaptation of metaverse is still a couple of years away. A safe estimate for Western countries, which are technologically advanced when it comes to hardware, can easily be calculated at least two years. With VR headsets like the Oculus Quest 2 developed by Facebook that still cost upwards of $300, users can interact with the metaverse, yet there is a lot of ground to be covered. In India though, it is still at least five years away from being adopted in the mainstream.

Where are we at now?

Currently, the metaverse-based marketing that exists is at a superficial level. Take for example the case of ALTBalaji’s metaverse for its reality show Lock Upp. While they do have a marketplace where players can buy and trade tokens for real money, it is only partly based on the blockchain. It does work towards marketing the show, but it is not a true metaverse in the real sense.

Another attempt at marketing on the entertainment front in the metaverse was is Disney+ Hotstar. The OTT platform partnered with Hungama Digital’s Web3 venture – Hefty Entertainment to create a digital avatar of Ajay Devgn to promote its upcoming show Rudra – The edge of darkness.

Recently, a wedding was held at the Indian metaverse platform titled Yug. Brands like Matrimony.com and Coca-Cola and ITC. Even virtual stores were set up inside the wedding venue, a scenic beach, where 400 guests mingled and got a chance to check out the wares and even shop. 

Metaverse and data

The level of data that is generated in the metaverse is of a much superior quality than what is generated today on social media networks. Considering that the effectivity of a marketing campaign depends on the quality of information at hand, there is a lot of promise. Using Artificial Intelligence and NLP, a large amount of data can be streamlined, analyzed and used for a focused, and heavily tailormade marketing campaign. Data ranging from voice, text, browsing activities, our expressions, health information and our interests can all be harvested. Deep learning can then be applied to show targeted ads to specific people. This, however, brings us to the question that whether customers would want to part with their data, what all would they want to share and is there something in it for them?

Privacy in the metaverse

With such humongous amounts of data and the personal nature of it can cause concerns individuals who value privacy. In fact, there have already been concerns around data collection by big tech firms. Almost every social media platform collects data. With metaverse, the data collection will be like it is on steroids.

Currently, there are no such laws yet that have been formed around data protection in metaverse. Identity fraud and theft too pose a risk, considering the intimate nature of the data. If any laws  have to be formed around safety in the metaverse, it will have to be a collective effort on part of big tech companies, civil society groups and the government.

Metaverse and NFTs

Brands who wish to indulge in business in the metaverse can make use of crypto currencies. Users can buy crypto assets advertised by brands in the metaverse. Besides that, brands can also leverage the power of metaverse by turning their products into Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). These tokens can be traded on the metaverse and have a real value.

While Metaverse and NFTs have been hot topics of discussion of late, and that we can see a picture emerge with trade in the virtual economy being conducted through cryptocurrency, there is still time for brands to leverage fully the power of metaverse for marketing.

The author is Poojan Ajani Co-Founder, Director & CTO at Digimaze

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