Should I Be Including the Metaverse in My Digital Marketing Plan?

By Jim Foreman| 9 Min Read | March 28, 2024
Metaverse Marketing | Marketing in the Metaverse

The metaverse is such a common noun these days that spellcheck doesn’t even give it a red line anymore. 

But that wasn’t always the case. The metaverse as a concept is as old as computers, but the word–and some would argue, its aspirational form–began with Neal Stephenson’s classic novel, Snowcrash.

Stephenson imagined that we would all be strapping on virtual reality gear and having all sorts of fun in an interactive, 3d landscape where anything was possible. Not just fun, either–business, too, with companies and businesses using virtual storefronts to entice their metaversal customers. 

Marketing in the metaverse was as wild as the artist’s imaginations, with flying, neon ads, and chatbots that could walk up to you and start a conversation.

Not bad for 1992, when the internet still had a capital I and was only known to a few thousand geeks, government employees, and science fiction fans. 

Smash cut to 2024: Two of the biggest, most influential technology companies in the history of the world have gambled a whole lot that you and I will one day soon do exactly what Snowcrash promised, and conduct real business in the simulated reality of a metaverse. Apple released the Vision Pro a scant couple of years after Facebook changed its whole name to Meta, and we’re off to the races. 

This whole thing has marketers wondering if this is the next big thing and, if so, should they be planning on moving some or any of their marketing budget to it?

Should we be buying ads in the metaverse? 

Should we be optimizing our websites for 3D? 

Let’s get into it.

The Problems With Marketing in the Metaverse

Before we even get to what kinds of marketing you should be doing right now for the metaverse, we should talk about the issues you’ll be facing before you even get to the point of buying ads or optimizing your pages. 

Problem #1: There Isn’t Actually a Metaverse (Yet)

This is the number one issue that we have to contend with, and it’s kind of an important one. There is no metaverse, at least not really. 

So the instant answer to the question: should I be marketing for the metaverse is a flat no. 

There’s nothing to market for! It would be like asking if you should be marketing for the moon colonies. Sort of. 

There are experiences that feel like the metaverse as it was described in Snowcrash. 

You can buy a Quest and log in to a VR Chat that has 3d avatars from all over the world interacting with each other. There are games you can play, and experiences you can have, all through some fancy 3d goggles. 

But not if they’re made by different companies. 

The Internet We Have, Not the Internet We Want

The metaverse is an aspiration, one that is understandable from the point of view of a writer in the early 90s. 

We thought the internet was going to be the easy integration of a vast network of interconnected, decentralized devices that were beholden to no government and no single vision. We had big dreams for an egalitarian web of people all over the world able to talk to each other and share information. 

But that’s not the internet we have in 2024. Instead of a decentralized network, we have huge nodes with big bottlenecks. Entire nations with billions of citizens have erected firewalls between them and the rest of the world. Companies have their own sandboxes and don’t play nice with each other. 

Have you tried sending a text from an iPhone to a Samsung? 

Which Garden Will You Water? 

We have a few walled gardens owned by a few big companies and we have to play by their rules

Until there is one single metaverse (which doesn’t seem likely), you get to pick the metaverse to market in. 

Luckily, each of the metaverses represents a different target market because, after all, there are flesh and blood people behind every one of those avatars. Let’s look at some numbers. 

The Metaverses of 2024

Okay, so we’ve acknowledged it’s not one harmonious metaverse yet – more like a bunch of competing islands.  But some islands have more inhabitants than others.  

Let’s look at the major players, where their strengths lie, and the kind of audiences you’ll find within:

  • Meta (formerly Facebook): Horizon Worlds & More
    • The big gorilla in the room. Meta has immense resources, but their rollout of Horizon Worlds has been… rocky. Graphics are often compared to early-2000s games, raising questions about mainstream appeal.
    • Strength: Sheer numbers. Meta’s reach is still massive, making it the ‘safe bet’ if you aim for broad demographics instead of niche audiences.
    • Who you’ll find: A wide mix, but skews older than some rivals due to existing Facebook user base.
  • Decentraland
    • Built on the Ethereum blockchain, Decentraland is big on user-generated content and ownership. Think of it as buying digital land and building whatever you like. 
    • Strength: Freedom and potential for true ‘digital landlords’. If your brand is about customization or user participation, this is the sandbox you might want to play in.
    • Who you’ll find: Tech-savvy early adopters, investors, crypto crowd. Not yet for the mass market.
  • Roblox
    • Often mistaken for a single game, Roblox is actually a massive platform for user-created experiences. It exploded during the pandemic and maintains popularity.
    • Strength: Dominates the younger demographic. If your brand caters to teens or even pre-teens, Roblox is worth serious consideration.
    • Who you’ll find: Kids, young adults – it’s a hyperactive, virtual playground.
  • The Sandbox
    • Similar philosophy to Decentraland, but leans more towards gaming experiences and recognizable brands partnering up.
    • Strength: High-profile collaborations (Snoop Dogg in 2021) maybe get media buzz, offering access to an engaged audience.
    • Who you’ll find: Trend-conscious, those into pop culture moments, and again, a younger demographic.
  • Niche & Emerging Platforms
    • It’s a land rush out there! Smaller metaverses focused on specific interests – music, fitness, professional networking – are popping up all the time.
    • Strength: Hyper-targeted audience, potential for low-competition environments if it aligns perfectly with your brand.
    • Who you’ll find: Depends entirely on the platform. Do your research to ensure a good fit.

A Note on Apple Vision Pro

Apple, as usual, plays by its own rules. 

There’s no dedicated Apple “metaverse”, but the Vision Pro headset focuses on Mixed Reality (MR). This blends digital elements with the real world. This is less about chat rooms, and more about overlaying shopping info onto a physical supermarket. 

Marketing applications are still developing.

For Most of Us, We’re Just Not There Yet

It’s in the nature of digital marketers to be curious about the future. Some of that curiosity comes from fomo–nobody wants to venture into a new platform or market with exciting ideas and plans to find that their competition is already there. 

For those of us old enough to remember when we suddenly had to have a website on something called the world wide web–and figure out how to advertise on it–we never want to be left behind.

Unless your brand is marketing specifically to the NFT or crypto crowd, or you’re making games for the Meta platform, your marketing budget is better spent somewhere else. 

To put it simply, if your audience isn’t either VR gamers or crypto folks, then the digital channels you’re used to are still the best bets for a solid return on investment. 

If you’d like to know how, specifically, a digital marketing agency can help you spend those marketing dollars in ways that can make a significant impact on your business’s bottom line, then you should give us a jingle. We’ve helped hundreds of clients get pretty great results and we’d love to help you, too. 

Contact us today for a free consultation and let’s see what we can do.

Key Takeaways

  • The “Metaverse” is Still Fragmented: There’s no single, unified metaverse in 2024. Think of them as competing islands, each with its own rules and audience demographics.
  • Target Audience is Paramount: Understanding who is already actively using each metaverse platform is crucial for deciding if it’s worth your marketing investment.
  • Mainstream Appeal is Limited (For Now): While VR/AR tech is growing, most consumers aren’t yet engaging with the metaverse on a daily basis. This means your current marketing channels likely have better ROI.
  • Innovation & Experimentation Have Value: Even if large-scale metaverse campaigns aren’t wise yet, smaller experiments can help brands stay ahead of the curve. This is especially true for those catering to young, tech-savvy audiences.
  • It’s Not “If”, But “When”: The metaverse, or something like it, will likely become more integral to our digital lives. Keeping an eye on its development and understanding its potential is a smart long-term strategy.
  • Traditional Digital Marketing Still Reigns: Investing in proven channels like search, social, and content marketing will likely yield the best returns for most businesses in 2024.

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