This month, McDonald’s is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the McNugget by opening McNuggets Land in the metaverse. Includes nugget games and coupons for free nuggets. The biggest possible nonsense, or great marketing? Most organizations currently experimenting or already active in the metaverse and targeting consumers are doing so primarily for marketing purposes. Recently I have had the opportunity to work on various projects in this area and in this article I share 3 ways to set up your own marketing in the metaverse.

Meta has already managed to do it a number of times, causing an ‘innovation trigger’. According to the Gartner Hypecycle this is:

A possible technological breakthrough that gets things going. An early proof-of-concept story, which generated a lot of media attention. Often no useful products exist and commercial viability is unproven.

After the name change of the old Facebook, we saw that the world was suddenly introduced to author Neal Stephenson’s concept: ‘metaverse’. Every professional you ask will have a different definition of the metaverse. For me it is a collective virtual 3D space, where physical and digital reality come together. Where a virtual economy emerges and is no longer dominated by a handful of technology companies, but the collective.

Even though the metaverse is sometimes declared dead, the same happened with all kinds of other technologies. Such as electricity, mobile phone, computer, internet and Bitcoin. However, it will certainly take another 10 years before such a world emerges in my opinion.

Yet there are plenty of organizations working to gain a place. There are now 148 virtual worlds active and the number of VR glasses sold has increased sixteenfold in recent years. According to McKinsey, a quarter of executives believe that more than 15% of their companies’ revenue will come from activities in the metaverse.

Virtually already fully proficient

Leaving aside the trillions of euros that American investment banks expect to handle in the virtual economies when the metaverse is fully operational, there are already a lot of consumers secretly walking around in it. On an average of 400 million on a monthly basis, more than half of whom are under 13 years of age and 84% under 18 years of age.

You also see this in the approach of many organizations in the metaverse. Focus on Generation Z. These young people, the oldest of whom are now 20 years old, are by far the most aware of virtual worlds, transactions and assets within them. They can often deal with this fluently and flawlessly. This is largely due to the gaming sector. Here you see, for example, on the largest gaming platform Roblox, that two-thirds of the 50 million daily users are younger than 16 years old.

This too will pass. Or not?

Do I find it strange that many organizations are not yet doing anything within the metaverse? Certainly not! But I do assume that the research from parties such as Gartner is correct. Within 10 years it will have an impact on 95% of organizations. In my opinion, Metaverse is one of the most prominent examples of the impact of digital transformation.

We saw with web1.0 that online marketing was mainly focused on showing a company’s contact information. With the current Web2.0, countless new possibilities suddenly emerged, such as interacting with (potential) customers and using personal data for targeted marketing.

Within web3.0 (which I wrote about before) we go a few steps further. As a user you can really immerse yourself in the virtual world. Complete immersion, or make a nice mix between our existence in the real world and the virtual one.

From nuggets to Nike

The thing that always causes the most resistance when I talk about the metaverse is virtual properties. This has been the most normal thing in the gaming world for years. Virtual swords and shields sometimes change hands for thousands of euros. Due to the NFT hype, many non-gamers have also come into contact with this. From virtual works of art to concert tickets, various assets have been and are being ‘tocanized’ (the proof of ownership is placed on blockchain technology).

The easiest way to get started with the metaverse is to create your own virtual items. You can then give these away or sell them to interested parties. You see all kinds of brands doing this: Heineken is giving away a virtual can of Silver beer, McDonald’s a virtual burger, Coca Cola special virtual goodies.

These are things that are often incomprehensible to generations born before ‘Z’, but are in great demand among ‘Z youth’. With the DressX platform you can fully set up and distribute these types of giveaways.

New business models

Should you give everything away for free? Certainly not! There are already many companies that have developed completely new business models around this.

New business models

Should you give everything away for free? Certainly not! There are already many companies that have developed completely new business models around the metaverse, inspired by the gaming industry. There are already 75 billion euros per year spent on virtual properties. In the beginning, mainly unique items were sold (where only one was offered), such as a virtual Gucci bag or crisp coat, but nowadays entire virtual clothing collections are marketed. Tommy Hilfiger, for example, launched the Tommy Parallel jeans collection.

To make this sale easier, retail chains such as Bloomingdale’s and Walmart have already opened virtual stores. Not only as a marketing campaign, but also very practical for taking the next step in e-commerce. I see really cool possibilities here, just like Google currently does within search, for example.

Virtual stores will soon be able to automatically adjust the selection of products, offers and the design of the store in a split second, based on, for example, the age and purchasing behavior of the visiting virtual customer. Personalization top.

Experiences over possessions

Collect experiences instead of possessions, I learned this from my parents and I also see this reflected in the metaverse. Virtual items are already very good to give away, but offering a real virtual experience has even more positive effects. Research shows the following:

Brand experiences have very positive effects on brand satisfaction, trust and loyalty. Subjective consumer responses that are evoked by specific brand-related experiential attributes in such settings. These subjective experiences are connections, experiences, memories and all the things that consumers feel about their products.

I previously wrote about the many tourist destinations worldwide that ensure that you can enjoy a holiday from the couch at home. I see most organizations mainly focusing on a game element. Small games, where you can win a virtual goody or, for example, receive a coupon to collect a prize in the physical world.

For example, Brewery InBev sponsored a virtual riding school, where you can breed, raise and sell virtual horses. Some horses are now selling for as much as $165,000. Clothing brand Vans has set up a virtual skate park ‘Vans World’, where visitors can skate with each other virtually and buy virtual sneakers with points earned. You can also completely customize your own virtual skateboard. The virtual world already attracted 100 million visitors at the time of writing.

Car makers are also opening virtual experiences one after another. I previously wrote about Ford, which not only opened a virtual garage, but even applied for patents on virtual cars. Skoda recently went one step further by developing a true virtual cycling paradise around the Tour de France in its Skodaverse.

According to the studies, consumers are mainly active within the metaverse for entertainment. We also see this in many metaverse developments at the moment. Disney has already been awarded patents to set up virtual theme parks. With one of its latest films ‘The Flash’, Warner Bros offers a film experience based on NFTs and AR.

They are not only completely unique worlds or completely virtual experiences, but also increasingly innovative combinations. For example, Deliveroo has developed its own game in the popular Nintendo game ‘Animal Crossing’, with which you can deliver virtual meals as a virtual delivery person. Within the first hours of launch, there were already more than three million player interactions.

Nike offers buyers of its HO20 collection an AR experience, which allows you to enter an interactive environment with all kinds of wild animals. In addition, the brand recently sold virtual shoes within one of the largest games in the world; Fortnite. And this before the physical variants were even in stores.

Unilever is also already active in the metaverse with its brands in all kinds of ways. From the first metaverse marathon, sponsored by Rexona deodorant, to the Magnum metaverse museum.

The billboards remain

Advertisements remain an important marketing tool. We are now used to targeted advertisements as part of social media. This will continue to develop within the metaverse.

You can already see the rapidly increasing size within games. For example, if you walk through GTA, you will be greeted with McDonald’s and Pepsi advertisements everywhere. In-game advertising now generates $32 billion annually. However, in-game advertisements are often not yet targeted, such as on social media. Just like with the first metaverse advertisements, you mainly see flat virtual billboards appearing.

You can get started with this yourself by using NFT Plazas, for example. This is an automatic billboard ads booking system, one of the most used

Be subtle about it

Research into in-game advertising shows that aggressively pushing ads on the nose can have a negative effect. According to research, it is precisely the subtle processing of your brand in a virtual environment, for example, that significantly increases purchasing intentions.

Are they just flat ads? No. More and more companies are using virtual influencers. Indeed, the virtual Enzo Knols. They sometimes have millions of followers and an even greater reach. In the United States, more than 50% of consumers already follow at least 1 virtual influencer.

For example, Samsung used virtual influencers Shudu and Miquele to promote their new Samsung Galaxy Z.

But marketing is more than just advertising. You can also achieve great results in terms of brand experience with sponsored content or even adopting entire virtual environments. The example remains Nike’s Nikeland, where you can practice 11 sports and view products. But also mayonnaise brand Hellmann, which has sponsored a virtual game about food waste. Players were able to donate their virtual food waste, which resulted in the donation of 50,000 meals to the physical food bank.

This is just the beginning. With the rapidly developing technology, I expect that you will soon be able to advertise specifically based on demographic characteristics, for example. Maybe even more; on emotion. Something that VR glasses can already read and with which you can therefore conduct even more targeted marketing, according to research. The latest VR glasses track pupil size, heart rate and muscle movements.

Talking is also allowed!

Do you serve a special community with your organization, which you can certainly bring together virtually? In addition to games and a virtual counter, you can also create a virtual meeting place where your (potential) customers can come together. Something that all kinds of major football clubs such as FC Barcelona and Manchester and clubs such as Amnesia Ibiza are already working on, but also more and more companies.

For example, auction house Sotheby’s launched the ‘Voltaire Art District’. This is a replica of the physical auction house in London. In this virtual auction place you will be welcomed by a virtual auctioneer and you can chat with all the other virtual visitors. The first results are above expectations. The reason is that the auction house was able to welcome many new target groups that it normally never receives in its physical buildings.

Spotify has set up such a virtual world to bring musicians and their fans together.

How to get started with the metaverse

Before you start giving away virtual nuggets or lighting a virtual campfire, it is important to first do extensive preliminary work.

Analyze what similar organizations are currently doing in terms of marketing in the metaverse and what is not going well here. There are already good use cases available in almost every industry. Companies often blog about their experiences on their own website.

Analyze the target group(s) you want to address in the metaverse. How far have they gone on their own ‘metaverse journey’? Are they already metaverse-native, or can they just put on VR glasses? Or not yet? What interest do they have in virtual activities? Why would they come at all?

Should there be a link to something in the physical world? What possible impact does virtual marketing have on physical promotions, products and services?

Not to start from scratch… See if you can embed a metaverse marketing campaign into an existing, physical marketing campaign. For example, if you sell clothing, create virtual variants that you can give away or sell. Are you organizing a launch event? Then try to offer a virtual variant (and I really mean 3D, no Zoom / Teams!), with additional options.

However, do not copy the existing marketing KPIs 1-on-1 from the existing, physical actions. You really enter a completely different playing field, with different channels, expectations and possibilities.

Take a closer look at the story you want to tell. What works on video and in a podcast must be told in three dimensions in the metaverse. Is that possible?

It is and remains completely uncharted territory for most organizations, so ensure a rapid, continuous testing & learning approach in the beginning. Learn from the numbers and responses every week by experimenting to immediately adjust possible actions. Technology is changing rapidly, so your metaverse marketing plan should really be a rolling strategy.

Crowdsource ideas! Don’t just rely on the brainfarts that you or a consultant come up with, but also open up the question within the entire internal organization or even your community. Car manufacturer BMW, for example, does this with its Metaverse Supplierton.

Unfortunately, also metaverse abuse

The metaverse offers unprecedented opportunities for marketers to better reach their target groups in completely different ways. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of challenges. Not only are there still many obstacles to overcome on the path to mass adoption, criminals are always super innovative (and often the first users of new technologies, such as email and Bitcoin) and are now also carrying out all kinds of crimes in the metaverse .

The misuse of user data is also a major concern for most users. Unfortunately, only 1.3% of the metaverses are actually Web3.0, the rest are only Web2.0 based.

But just like the early days of social media weren’t perfect, you can’t expect the metaverse to be perfect from the start. We don’t know what exactly the metaverse will look like, but I’m confident it will drastically change the way companies interact with their customers. It’s better to think about this today than tomorrow.