Digital Marketing in a Mixed Reality, NFT-Centric World (AR/Metaverse)

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Jason Wurz
January 12, 2022

As the Founder of a Creative Digital Strategy Agency, clients often ask me: What should we be doing to prepare for the Metaverse?

And there’s plenty of follow on questions from this too…
1. How can we launch our own NFT?
2. Should we start accepting crypto currency?
3. Do we need a virtual storefront?

These are all great questions to be asking but in most cases they’re usually a bit ahead of the game.

Right now marketing in the Metaverse is a smart play for big brands or artists trying to reach a younger demographic or digital technology natives where they are hanging out.

We’ve seen the wild success of virtual concerts like Travis Scott in Fortnight and Lil Nas X in Roblox.

And of course record breaking NFT sales from digital artists and artwork teams such as Beeple and Bored Apes.

In just the last couple months we’ve also seen large entertainment companies breaking into the space with The Matrix, Space Jam, the NBA and Disney being among some of the earliest adopters.

Beyond this the digital wearables market is exploding with the likes of Nike building its own mini-metaverse on the Roblox platform and both them and Adidas entering the wearable NFT market particularly with their shoe offerings.

The slow moving nature of these big brands has even caused a loss of first mover advantage as companies like Space Runners was on the ball launching the AT/Metaverse sneaker market ahead of the these top two brands dominating the multi-billion dollar physical sneaker market.

So what does all these mean for your business?

Preparing for the Metaverse

For most businesses we love to see that they’re on top of these trends but generally it doesn’t make sense to be positioning for the Metaverse at this time.

Their highest value target audiences spend their decision making time searching for solutions on Google meaning that their best existing opportunity today to grow their business and acquire new clients is through creative content strategy and SEO marketing.

It still barely makes sense for many of our partners to put budget towards Social Media marketing where audiences tend to skew too young to drive much conversion.

The Metaverse audience is even younger than TikTok, so if you’re still not yet rolling out a TikTok social media strategy then it’s probably way too early to be preparing for the Metaverse.

If you ask Mark Zuckerberg, the Metaverse doesn’t even properly exist yet but we’re seeing the proliferation of more rudimentary variations that maybe fall somewhat short of a true Metaverse but can also fairly be considered as such.

Launching Your Own NFTs

If you’re an independent artist or a company with latent design capacity especially with 3D talent then absolutely, you should be directing some time towards understanding and launching your own NFTs.

NFTs are the physical goods of the new virtual economy. The very building blocks of this universe people will increasingly be living their lives in. Not unlike how physical products are the basic building blocks of this current reality we all know and love.

If you are an entertainment company with a repository of collateral then it’s even more of a no brainer to re-publish your assets in NFT form, very little work even required for this to be a success, especially if you have an existing fanbase.

Everyone else? Maybe NFTs don’t make the most sense.

But hey any brand that has diehard fans can readily make a play in the space. Even something as simple as a 3D metaverse compatible Starbucks mug could potentially raise tens of millions of dollars overnight.

If you have enough brand evangelists in the world, you can really make a killing selling just about any kind of virtual collectible.

And while it might seem crazy, people’s Metaverse characters will almost certainly be wielding Starbucks mugs if they make it available to their raving fan community.

Add in real world benefits such as product discounts or monthly real world coffee sample shipments and this kind of NFT project would be guaranteed to sell out fast.

Accepting Crypto Currency as Payment

Absolutely 100% yes. 

Every business and brand should at least be open to accepting payment in the form of cryptocurrency.

Why? Unlike fiat currency dollar bills that will deflate in value over the coming decades. Cryptocurrency is an appreciating asset.

Now not every business can readily make this jump especially as the vast majority of their customers are largely accustomed to only making transactions in cash and credit cards but business-wise it’s a no-brainer to accept appreciating assets such as crypto as a form of payment if your customers want to pay this way.

Any product geared toward technology nerds should absolutely be accepting crypto payments in exchange for their products and services. (Twitch, GoDaddy, Alienware)

And because no one really is at a large scale, everyone is currently leaving vast amounts of future appreciated cryptocurrency on the table for basically no reason at all except for maybe fear.

These companies with a technology forward user base should be hiring crypto currency accountants to figure everything out and start accepting payments ASAP.

For the average business though? Probably it’s not going to make sense but even small businesses who have the right audience could stand to reap massive rewards as we see crypto continue to explode in popularity, application and $ value in the coming years.

Setting Up a Virtual Storefront

Do you need one? Probably not. Is it cool to have one? Absolutely. Does it make sense to invest in one? Not likely.

Currently buying up land in one of the many scattered rudimentary Metaverses and building your own storefront probably isn’t the best use of your capital compared to investing that same money in content strategy and SEO marketing to rank in Google and acquire new customers.

The ROI just won’t be there but as Millennials increasingly transition to life in these virtual spaces and the younger generations increasingly drive the economy, the practical business applications for virtual storefronts are actually not so far off for a lot of the world’s brands.

The Metaverse is a fantastic place for people to easily explore physical environments remotely and experience physical goods remotely.

Are you are car company wanting to make test driving your vehicles easier for high income technology geeks and increase brand exposure to these high value audiences with engaging experiences? (Toyota, Audi, Tesla, General Motors, Lamborghini)

This is absolutely a space you should be investing in.

Are you a toy or entertainment company looking to connect with your audience where they are hanging out? (Nickelodeon/Viacom, Toys ‘R Us, Hasbro)

This is absolutely a space you should be HEAVILY investing in.

Brand experiences are quickly transitioning from the physical world to digital and if your audience is already there, then I don’t know what you’re doing with yourself by sitting on your hands right now.

The Question that’s Always Overlooked: What About Augmented Reality?

I’m glad you asked!

AR is the exceedingly more practical place to start investing resources whether you’re a gaming company or currently have physical spaces that could be enhanced with AR, this is the area you should be focused on much more than the Metaverse.

Augmented Reality will come along with the true Metaverse however the adoption rate will be far more rapid and much more expansive compared to the Metaverse as people transition away from mobile phones and into mobile eyeware.

The pricing models will be similar eliminating any financial barrier there might be. With one low monthly payment to get into a pair of AR glasses,
everyone who currently owns a mobile device will be eligible to make that jump very rapidly.

Apple fanatics will be the first to toss their iPhones in the trash for what I can only assume will be called iGlasses… ? Doesn’t quite have the same ring. Maybe iWear? Hmm… wrong inflection but closer. Maybe something a bit further from the beaten Apple branding path, more in line with Microsoft branding like Apple Lens…

… or they could just call them Face Dongles and get it over with!

Brands that are prepared with engaging AR experiences for their physical world customers will be in position to reap exceptional rewards as the rest of your competitors struggle to adapt to what will undoubtedly be a swift and rapid market inflection point.

What About Paid Ads Though?

I’m sorry to say to all people who rely on advertising to grow their business that this is a dying marketing model.

Will people try to put popup ads in AR glasses and billboards in the Metaverse? You can bet your bottom dollar they will!

Will this engage audiences and be anywhere as remotely as effectively as in the physical and 2D digital spaces we know now? Absolutely not.

Brands need to be innovating and thinking how they can adapt what they do either into beautiful AR experiences or collectible and useable NFT digital products.

The future is much more about branding than advertising.

And since Google and Social Media aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, you have plenty of time to milk the advertising beast for all its worth over the next couple decades.

It certainly won’t be around forever and may even be completely extinguished in our lifetimes as everything becomes purely about whoever can offer the most powerful brand experiences through AR in the physical world and VR in the Metaverse world.

Those will be the brands that will capture and hold the attention of the masses and reap the bulk of the rewards from our new trillion dollar virtual economy.

It’s a wild future in front of us that will completely reshape life as we know it, how will your brand seize your piece of this virtual economy pie?

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