Is metaverse marketing the future of marketing?

According to Google Trends, interest in the metaverse had fallen a bit. Until Pieter Van Leugenhagen launched his book ‘Welcome to the metaverse‘. Even Gert Verhulst was triggered and asked him for an explanation in his talk show 'De Tafel van Vier'.Boek - Pieter Van Leugenhagen - Welkom In De Metaverse

The same Pieter Van Leugenhagen helped JBC opening a virtual store with his agency 'Yondr'. Even our Red Devils were present in the metaverse. Studious as I am, I also took the first steps in this virtual world. My goal? Exploring the possibilities for entrepreneurs and marketers.

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“Metaverse is the future”

Those were the words of Mark Zuckerberg when he announced the name change from parent company Facebook to Meta in October 2021. From that moment, the subject can no longer be avoided.

The Metaverse is a 3D virtual world where it is possible to play together, communicate with each other and/or work together. In the absence of one universal Metaverse, the term is currently used as a collective name for the range of metaverses.

Most applications are based on Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) or Mixed Reality (MR). The use of a headset is recommended to get an 'immersive experience'. Characters are visualized by avatars.

Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality vs Mixed Reality:

Virtual Reality (VR)Augmented Reality (AR)Mixed Reality (MR)
Virtual worldVirtual layer on top of real environmentVirtual applications on top of real environment
Isolated from the real environmentLink with actual environmentLink with actual environment
Operation via controllersControl via deviceOperation by own hands

Meta Quest 2
Meta Quest 2: example of Virtual Reality

Augmented-Reality-Ikea App
Ikea App: example of Augmented Reality

Microsoft Hololens 2
Hololens 2: example of Mixed Reality

With Extended Reality (XR) as the collective and umbrella name for the three technologies together.

Companies are investing heavily in the metaverse

Contrary to what many may think, the metaverse is definitely not just for geeks. For example, I recently spoke to a 10-year-old girl. Her hobbies were swimming, dancing and gaming. At this last, she spoke enthusiastically about platforms such as Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft. All examples of 'metaverses'.

It is therefore not illogical that large tech companies invest heavily in hardware and software. An overview:

1. Microsoft

Microsoft wants to win the battle for the Metaverse more than ever. With Microsoft Altspace, Microsoft Mesh and Minecraft, it owns some popular metaverse. Moreover, it recently invested heavily by acquiring game developer Activision-Blizzard for a whopping $ 70 billion. With this, the U.S. tech giant is bringing in a lot of additional metaverse expertise.

With tools such as Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Teams in portfolio, it is logical that their mixed reality glasses 'Hololens 2' are aimed at the business user.

Microsoft Altspace VR
Microsoft Altspace VR: from meetings to live events

2. Meta (Facebook)

Facebook's parent company acquired Oculus VR in 2014 for €1.45 billion. At that time, the market leader in VR headsets. In 2022, the company name was changed to Meta Quest. With the Meta Quest 2, Facebook still has the best-selling VR headset in its portfolio. In Q2 2022 it accounted for a market share of +- 60%. For professional users, Meta recently launched the Meta Quest Pro.

Like Microsoft, Meta also invests in software. For example, you can play games in Horizon Worlds and you can hold meetings in virtual reality in Horizon Workrooms. This provided that you use a Meta Quest VR headset.

Facebook-Meta-Horizon-Workrooms
Virtual meetings in Horizon Workrooms

3. ByteDance (TikTok).

The developer of TikTok is competing with the Meta Quest 2 with the Pico 4 VR headset (successor to the Pico Neo 3). With success: the Pico 4 was the second best-selling VR headset in Q2 2022.

Comparison Meta Quest 2 vs Pico 4:

Meta Quest 2Pico 4
PhotoMeta Quest 2Pico 4 VR Headset
Resolution per eye1832 x 19202160 x 2160
Lens TypeFresnel (96° view)Pancake (105° view)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon XR2Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2
Memory6GB Ram8GB Ram
Storage128GB or 256GB128GB or 256GB
Capacity battery3640 mAh (+- 2h)5300 mAh (+- 3h)
Need computer?NoNo
MSRP€ 449 (128GB)€ 429 (128GB)

4. Other VR/AR headsets

For the sake of completeness, I share below a few more companies that have already brought VR, AR or MR headsets to the market:

  • HTC: The once-popular smartphone manufacturer has been investing heavily in VR for years. The HTC Vive was still the second most sold VR headset worldwide in 2021 (3.3 million).
  • Snap Spectacles 3 AR GlassesSnap inc (Snapchat): Snap targets with the Spectacles 3 – just like the Snapchat Lenses – on augmented reality. Undoubtedly the most fashionable AR headset at the moment (see photo).
  • Sony (PlayStation): released the PlayStation VR in 2016. The successor will also be available from February 2023 PlayStation VR2 available.
  • HP: PC manufacturer HP has also been involved in the battle of VR headsets for several years. The HP Reverb G2 must be connected to a PC via cable.
  • DPVR: Chinese manufacturer with a strong focus on virtual education and virtual training. Of ArborXR the company offers a management platform for IT admins.

Sales figures VR headsets up to and including Q2 2022:

Market Share VR Headsets 2022
Analysis of VR Headsets sold up to and including Q2 2022

What does Apple do?

 

Despite Apple's lack of involvement in the battle for the metaverse until now, there are plenty of signs that the American technology company will soon change this. For example, several VR start-ups have already been acquired (e.g., Spaces VR and NextVR) and there are hundreds of open positions in the "AR" and "VR" categories.

Production of Apple's first AR/VR headset is rumored to start in March 2023. There is also a lot of speculation about the name, with 'Reality One' as the biggest contender. Apple is expected to launch its own virtual world at the same time.

Speculation Apple VR AR Headset 2023
Can we expect Apple VR/AR glasses soon?

“Metaverse is a hype”

 

A big announcement by Apple would give the metaverse a huge boost. Just like this happened before with the smartphone (iPhone), tablet (iPad), smartwatch (Apple Watch) and the earbuds (AirPods). According to the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Tech 2022 the potential is obvious, but it would take at least another 10 years for the technology to become 'mainstream'.

What the future brings is looking at coffee grounds. However, the signals are favorable:

1. Gen Z's are joining the workplace

Gen Z people were born between 1996 and 2015. In other words: the generation that is used to 'socializing' via video games in virtual environments such as Fortnite or Roblox. They are currently entering the labor market in full force.

2. The emergence of 5G

The roll-out of 5G is a positive development, especially for business applications. There are numerous use cases where an excellent mobile network connection makes the difference (eg remote support).

3. VR Headsets have never been so popular

In 2021, 11.2 million VR and AR headsets will be sold worldwide (Source: IDC). That is no less than 92.1 percent more than the year before! Fun fact: half of these headsets were sold during the Christmas period.

4. “Metaverse Worth $800 Billion By 2024”

According to the American Bloomberg, the various metaverses would generate about $ 800 billion in revenue worldwide by 2024. In addition to online gaming (50%), turnover is mainly expected in 'live entertainment' and 'social media'.

Metaverse: potential as an enterprise

After the theory part, we can now move on to practice: where does the potential lie as a company? I share below 5 inspiring examples:

1. Virtual (web)shops

A first interesting target group are retailers. Almost all major fashion brands are currently exploring the opening of a virtual store. Logical: because we also want to look good in the metaverse! We also want the brands we walk around with in 'real life' to be available for our avatars. As a representation during virtual meetings, events, games or even a job application.

For the purchase of virtual products, so-called NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are used. A blockchain-based technique for trading digital goods. A kind of virtual notary.

Of course it's not just about sales. You can skate in Vans World and work out in Nikeland with your friends. In JBC World you can - in addition to viewing her own clothing collection - also dance and sing with singer Camille. All this in order to be seen in a positive way by the young audience. Literally then.

JBC World Roblox Camille
JBC World: dancing and singing with Camille

2. Virtual training

At the 2018 Digital Construction Fair in Brussels, I was already behind the wheel of a virtual forklift truck. Pilots have also been flying for years via a lifelike flight simulator before they actually take to the air.

Thanks to VR, we will only see this kind of virtual training increase. A good example of this is the warehouse builder by Thomas More, where Supply Chain Management students can gain practical experience in a virtual warehouse.

Thomas More Warehouse Builder VR
Thomas More Warehouse Builder

3. Virtual meetings via Microsoft Teams

Microsoft launched major news last month (October 2022) which "Mesh for Microsoft Teams' Re. This highly anticipated feature will soon be available on the Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro headsets.

With 270 million active users Microsoft Teams ubiquitous in business. The launch of Mesh for Teams could well give a big boost to the 'metaverse'. Especially now it turns out that others too Microsoft 365 apps such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint become available through these VR headsets.

Mesh for Teams Microsoft Teams Meeting in VR
Mesh for Teams: VR Meetings via MS Teams

4. Digital Twins & Industrial Metaverse

At the beginning of 2021 I visited the Microsoft Innovation Center in Brussels. This is where I first got a demo of 'Azure Digital Twins'. With this, Microsoft offers organizations a ready-made platform to perform digital simulations of machines, buildings, stadiums, etc. This, for example, towards a better or more efficient operation of a product.

For example, Imec created a digital twin of the city of Antwerp, fed with real-time data such as air quality, traffic information and noise pollution. This is to enable rapid simulations of the impact of infrastructure works on the living environment in Antwerp.

In addition to Microsoft, Siemens and NVIDIA are also active in this market – also referred to as 'industrial metaverse' or 'virtual prototyping'.

Azure Digital Twin City of Antwerp Imec
Azure Digital Twin: example city of Antwerp

5.Metaverse Marketing

For most marketers, the metaverse is still a far-off show at this point. Yet you notice an increasing interest. For example, you will find more and more providers of 'in-game advertising' online. The Dutch Azerion, for example. An interesting way to possibly reach a new target group and/or increase your brand awareness. Because gaming is something for all ages: in Belgium it is half the gamers between 25 and 40 years old.

HP in-game advertising example
HP in-game advertising example

 

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When Microsoft also officially announced 'Mesh for Microsoft Teams', I had enough triggers to explore the possibilities for companies in the metaverse.

Tom Hufkens

Tom Hufkens

Passionate about marketing & founder of this blog .

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