A day in the future
Imagine a rainy February day in the not-too-distant future. You wake up, put on your smart glasses, receive daily weather notifications, meetings, tasks, and the rest of daily to-dos, before the device asks where you want to drink your usual morning coffee. Tired of winter, choosing a nice bay in Ibiza, the sight is realistically unfolding before you. You can even hear the sea.
You manage to recharge a bit on a dark winter day, then ride the indoor cycle in the French Alps. You have your breakfast in Milan and then hurry to join the company’s meeting room for a virtual meeting. For lunch, you call your investment advisor into the virtual work room, where you show off the newly acquired digital artwork on the wall. He presents how the rest of the portfolio is performing, the likes of your digital real estate developments and so on.
Walking through a virtual festival in the evening, surprisingly perfectly targeted commercials appear on projectors and you party with your favourite influencers.
And the carbon footprint remained at an optimal level all day, while you didn’t spend that much money.
This may sound like a futuristic vision, but it’s one that’s very close, very here. And it’s called the Metaverse.
How the Metaverse will shape the future of business, marketing and consequently influencer marketing:
Wrapping your head around the Metaverse
According to Mark Zuckerberg, the Metaverse is an embodied internet (Internet+) in which we don’t only consume content, but we are right in the middle of it. It helps us get away from just staring at phone screens and spend more time with each other again. Even though it’s our avatar that does it all, things could become 3D again. Right now the world is not that different. Most young people spend 8-10 hours interacting with their phone, and we are already living on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, WeChat and LinkedIn, and soon we will be able to be inside of these platforms, the same way we can attend a Travis Scott concert in Fortnite. At online corporate meetings, fifty people would not watch each other on one screen through Zoom, but in a virtual meeting room. We could remember who was sitting to our right, left, or in front of us, and so perhaps, we would also remember who said what. Facebook works in an endless office that allows users to create their ideal work environment in virtual reality. According to Zuckerberg, the potential of education in this form also provides the opportunity for a more equal world, where people from a small emerging market or a village could be admitted to a good school/program (provided they have access to the technology, of course). And it's easier to make friends if the children are visually sitting next to each other.
We can imagine the completely new level of home office model and digital education, as well as the long-term impact on the real estate market.
Matthew Ball, a former Amazon director and venture capitalist, summarized the notion of the Metaverse as the next level of the Internet, a collective virtual space, an aggregation of digital and physical reality. It is the combination of the Internet, augmented and virtual reality, that is constantly online and active, with its own economy, job opportunities, shopping malls and media. In other words, the Metaverse is the “complete interactive reality, the connecting tissue between humanity”.
Perhaps the reader will first think of the Matrix and Ready Player One movies, where the user can communicate, trade, work and attend events by moving into a functioning online world. The WeChat app has been described several times as a 2D Metaverse platform, where users can do virtually everything: socialize, shop, pay for things in the real world and negotiate workflows, etc.
The limitlessness of the online world is well illustrated by the fact that Travis Scott held a nine-minute concert at Fortnite with his avatar, which was attended by 12 million people and made $20 million. It’s hard for anyone to make that much money with a single gig, and it’s even harder to run a 12-million-people event. Most likely, the parents also preferred to let their children attend a concert from their own room.
Another forerunner of Metaverse is a 3D virtual reality called Decentraland, built on a decentralized Ethereum cryptocurrency (MANA), where users can buy land, develop real estate and organize art exhibitions. Several companies have already appeared on the platform and are trading digital artworks through NFTs. You can visit events and exhibitions with friends, see the cities built by others and much more.
On the Decentraland interface, a parcel of virtual land could be purchased for an average price of $7,000 in June, and that same piece of land cost only $1,800 in April. The platform recently posted a job ad in its digital casino, paying $500 a month in cryptocurrency for four hours of work a day. As the Metaverse grows, so will the number of job opportunities.
Everyone wants a piece of it
At the birth of the Metaverse, almost everyone is trying to be there and to be a pioneer. Coca-Cola is the world leader in launching blockchain-based, unique, collectible content on Decentraland. Within the framework of an online event, it was possible to partake in an NFT auction, and obtain things such as a friendship card or a sound player, which simulates the opening of a Coca-Cola can.
Gucci announced on a site called Roblox its presence in the Metaverse and sold its digital bags for $4,115, the owner of which was certified by NFT. We should mention that the bag was even more expensive than the physical version of the bag, which costs $3,400 in stores. This seems to be the reality of today, even though probably not many women would fancy an NFT bag for their birthday.
RTFKT (artifact, creating virtual devices and securing ownership through NFTs) sold 600 digital shoes worth $3.1 million in seven minutes in February. Anyone who buys a digital shoe can add it onto themselves in their existing photos on Instagram.
Fashion shows are also held in cyberspace, with some collections selling for over $130,000. Both Sotheby’s and Christie’s have opened their digital headquarters at Decentraland. CNN has a presence as well, as they sell their best moments in NFT form and Lionel Messi launched his NFTs on the “Messiverse”. Online adult entertainment has a huge potential to elevate their business to a new level. The gaming world is already there, with billions pouring into their companies in order to help their virtual transition.
“We are grateful to our new and existing investors who support our vision for Epic and the Metaverse. Their investment will help accelerate our work around building connected social experiences” – Tim Sweeney (CEO and Founder, Epic Games), after announcing $1 Billion funding round.
From the investors’ POV
From an investment perspective, Metaverse brings an array of new opportunities in the digital real estate market, increasing the value of existing tech companies who navigate well in the environment (Facebook, Tencent, Microsoft, etc.). But also non-tech companies who can monetize on sales and marketing opportunities (Coca-Cola, influencer marketing companies), or the resource needs of the infrastructure (Nvidia, Qualcomm, etc.) will find opportunities within Metaverse. New companies can grow from the ground up and do successful IPOs in the future (Decentraland, etc.). Metaverse will probably raise the value of some cryptocurrencies, as well as the NFT market in its entirety. It can cut costs and help companies operate more efficiently. NFTs, blockchain systems, cryptocurrencies, all directing to a place called Metaverse. Naturally there are many more investment opportunities of the Metaverse that are less visible today and will come to light as the future unfolds. The Metaverse may have its own capital market within the digital world.
Angel investors, venture capitalists, SPACs, funds and retail investors will seek Metaverse stories and investment opportunities, probably with high valuations and high potential returns.
The most common idea about the Metaverse is for it to be a decentralized, interoperable platform. It’s like the internet, where a lot of companies are present. However, this requires that the acquired goods (land, property, art, currencies) are convertible between different surfaces. The NFT and blockchain systems can support this.
Based upon how things are looking, the marketing activity of companies will be taken to a whole new level, by being in our room and from a world where constant targeted advertising can be pushed into our face, in a much more sophisticated way than an Instagram story (which is already much more sophisticated than a TV commercial).
The Metaverse effect on Influencer Marketing
As the Metaverse could totally change the life we live, it's needless to say, it will reshape the landscape of social media.
“And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company” - Mark Zuckerberg, (CEO & Founder, Facebook).
One of the most interesting and high-potential fields of the new world is marketing and the creator economy. Much more data will be available for advertisers than ever before and sophisticated targeting will be driven to a completely new level. Data will be even more precise and valuable. Brands will have to create their digital twins and follow or dictate the new trends in the Metaverse. Some of them have already started it and influencers will need to think about creating their avatars and working with brands in the Metaverse.
Post For Rent is already acting with huge trust in what the future is about to bring. The company has ‘built’ a digital influencer HQ in Decentraland, hoping to become a ‘bridge’ for influencers between the physical and virtual world.
The Metaverse provides creators with a whole new aspect of interaction and communication, not only with their fans but also with their fellow influencer peers. Food influencers can cook together; travel influencers can share experiences together; sport influencers will have their fan base in the crowd, and much more. It’s a playground that practically has no limits at this point and allows all players, be it influencers or businesses, to be pioneers, innovators, and creative geniuses. Moreover, are we going to need real people behind metaverse influencers, or can they very well be just simulations?
Influencer marketing is quite a young industry, where surprisingly, still many brands and agencies are lagging behind. But with the Metaverse in play it has high potential to take off quickly and become a multibillion-dollar economy in the virtual world. And this can happen quicker than most people would think as Facebook is planning to sell Oculus glasses for as little as $100.
The market still focuses heavily on 2D NFT marketplaces - the current hot topic, and the newest way to trade collectibles that have value (and sometimes a whole lotta value). Continuing the virtual journey, Post For Rent is set on a mission to provide creators with a one-of-a-kind platform to trade and sell their digital artwork. The platform will be released in October 2021 and will build upon the Metaverse mission, allowing creators to showcase their art in the virtual world to virtual audiences, rising above pure platform listings and auctions.
The question today isn’t whether the Metaverse is coming or not, the question is whether companies and creators have a plan on how to be a part of the new era of the internet or they will miss out on this like they did on the crypto boom.
The possibilities are endless if recognized on time
The possibilities that Metaverse opens for marketers across the globe are endless and applicable to practically any industry. As for influencer marketing, it’s looking like it’s going to thrive in the developing digital age. As saturated as influencer space is, the metaverse now offers an opportunity for anyone to start their influencer journey, while it gives already established personas a chance to build their twin personalities in the digital space, where brands will look to cement their status of innovative and trendy companies, looking to stay ahead of the game.
With Post For Rent’s influencer HQ built recently in Decentraland, the company is trying to open the door for creators and marketers to a world which allows for innovation unlike anything seen so far. Many companies have already jumped on the wagon, and how things are looking the rest will have to follow. But the later they join, the costlier it’ll be.