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Opinion

The Metaverse is Coming – Are You Ready?

Today we explore the next big thing on the internet - the Metaverse, and how those that adopt it early could be the real winners.

What is the Metaverse? 

The Metaverse is the next big thing in the online world. Literally meaning ‘beyond universe’ the term is used to describe the future of our online life which is essentially a shared virtual space. It combines an enhanced physical reality with a virtual space and encompasses these using augmented reality and the internet. 

Still with me? Maybe an easier way is to think of examples of the Metaverse. Remember Second Life? That was the first mainstream iteration of the Metaverse. A virtual world where people could ‘live’ in a world purely hosted on the internet. It had mixed success at the time but perhaps the concept was a bit ahead of its time and needed to be better supported with physical technology and a more online savvy audience to help people see the real value it would bring to them. 

Today the Metaverse concept is starting to increase in frequency and we mainly see it in gaming such as Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite. But the likes of Facebook are also starting to develop their virtual world and we can expect to see many other platforms creating these accessible worlds to users. 

In a similar way to social media, there will be a number of different ways we can access the Metaverse and it may depend on people’s physical tech and their savviness. 

The future is the Metaverse

The possibilities for the Metaverse are hugely exciting. Innovative new technologies mean that in time we will be able to seamlessly access the Metaverse from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to sleep – or as much as we want and need it. 

Let me give you an example. You wake up and put on your smart glasses. You instantly see notifications such as your day’s meetings or tasks, weather forecast, and messages. Your voice assistant then asks ‘looks like you’re getting up now, shall I boil the kettle?’. You jump on your spin bike and you’re suddenly in the French Alps for your morning ride. At work, you’re able to walk through your event set up weeks in advance, all thanks to the Metaverse. 

This may be a few years off for the majority, but companies are starting to plan for this alternative way of living. 

How will this affect the marketing world? 

Certainly, the pandemic and subsequent requirements for physical distancing have accelerated the Metaverse’s growth. People are now using it to meet co-workers, catch up with friends or even see concerts. In April 2020 rapper Travis Scott played a concert in Fornite all through his avatar. 

Like social media did before, we anticipate the Metaverse having a huge impact on marketing activities. As people migrate towards online life for more products and services it’s inevitable that it will open up opportunities for brands to exploit. 

The creator community is already growing in its importance thanks to social media. Influencers are now hugely influential on consumers and whilst I don’t see this changing, I do think that the platform it’s conducted through will alter. It’s inevitable that current social media platforms will see a decline in popularity. Remember MySpace? And audiences will grow fatigued and look to the likes of virtual spaces as a new way to interact and discover. 

Soon we can expect online and offline to merge even further as companies get on board and create spaces such as stores, pubs, and theatres. Here we will begin to see opportunities for companies to start raising awareness or selling products and services to audiences in the virtual world. 

How to create an appealing world 

The real winners in the Metaverse will be the influencers and brands who craft a virtual world that isn’t just a ‘flat’ surface. It offers layers through avatars, visuals, and music. 

Music will be a great way to do this as it can bring so much to an immersive experience. Creating a world that people will want to come to will only be possible through crafting an atmosphere like the ones we experience in real life. This is where sounds and music play a huge part as they can create a mood, tone, or theme. 

Of course, hosting a concert with a renowned artist is one way to gain traction, but there are lots of other ways to make the world inviting and engaging. A fashion influencer or brand creating a ‘catwalk show’ showing off the week’s hottest trends and using light effects and a soundtrack to bring the event to life. A food company could host a ‘Friday night cooking session’ and use electric beats to create a similar vibe and a Sunday morning yoga session using calming music to create a zen atmosphere. 

However, just as it is for social media users, it’s not possible to simply use our favourite commercial tracks to do this. Metaverse users will have to respect the highly regulated royalties that come attached to tracks. This is often very expensive and complicated. And for many, creating your own music just isn’t a possibility. 

However, this is where AI music can come into play. AI-powered platforms such as Loudly provide royalty-free music that is accessible and instant no matter what the user’s ability and we see it being a huge partner for those entering the Metaverse world. 

This means all users in the Metaverse can use platforms such as this to create their own ‘world soundtrack’ helping entice friends and visitors to their worlds as well as using music to personalise the space. 

The Metaverse is a hugely exciting prospect for both audiences and brands. In years to come, the Metaverse will transform our lives in many different ways. But to start with these virtual worlds will help us all create and interact with online worlds, communities, friends, influencers, and brands.

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