The Metaverse: From PR to Long-Term

10/19/2022 15:14

As of today, the Metaverse is largely seen as a PR stunt for big brands. From opening Gucci Gardens in Roblox to Snoop Dogg's Mansion in The Sandbox, these moves are interesting, but often leave users wondering about long-term evolutions of these spaces.

These exploratory moves have had some short-term return on investment (ROI) in terms of NFTs alone. But, many legacy brands are struggling with committing to a long-term Metaverse strategy. Just look at how CNN closed their Vault earlier this month, just a year after launching it. 

Lessons from the Past

While the Metaverse is new, investing early in a space or business opportunity that has yet to fully shake out is not. Marco Giacalone, former Procter & Gamble, pointed to "when P&G were doing the very first experiments with Facebook in 2006." At the time, ROI for social media was unclear. Brands were testing to see how they could interact in these new environments.

But, now, it's nearly unthinkable to run a brand — and entirely unthinkable to run a major global brand — without a social media presence. And this is not the only case. Only slightly before the shift to social media, we saw the emergence of eCommerce. The choice was extremely costly for many brands who steered clear of this as an early strategy.

While you don't want to bank your all on a trend that may not actually turn into the future, it's also too risky to be left behind as markets change and evolve. It's no longer enough to just carry on with business as usual.

Investing in Data

One thing that the shift to digital brought was unprecedented amounts of data. Data regarding user activity, that allows direct correlation between activity and sales. And, this has fundamentally changed how businesses operate. But, also the types of services customers can expect.

…it's also fundamentally changed how we look at data, making it one of the world's more precious resources.

The Metaverse, as a nascent space, still needs a lot of work to make that same sort of data available and usable. But, it also needs a lot of testing to see which types of products, services, and experienced users actually react to in the Metaverse. While some of the data from digital spaces can be applied, it will take a lot of texting to see exactly what we can expect in the Metaverse. 

This is also definitely a different path for different companies. While some companies are arising as Metaverse-native, their direct user data can only be pulled from the Metaverse. But, for legacy brands, especially brands with the revenue to invest, this journey will look different. 

Looking at the budgets of these types of companies generally have, Ondrej T. of Boring Labs lays out how this might look: 

"If they spend a few $100,000 on a Roblox activation, the data they get from over a decade of test-and-learn and the learnings they get out of it is much more valuable that maybe a few $100,000 of the investment." 

By investing in the data, companies can begin to paint a real picture of what they might have to do to make real, lasting moves in the space.

A Mixed Approach

Any good investor…or business mind… will tell you not to put all of your eggs into one basket. And while the same is true for the Metaverse, there is a significant lack of this in the strategy that many companies are applying to this space.

If your strategy is just to use the Metaverse as a PR stunt, then you're not thinking long-term enough….and you might be looking at just pouring some money down the drain for a few headlines that never pan out into anything more. Or worse, a big investment for a few headlines just to shut the project down a few months later (*cough, CNN, cough*). 

This space needs more long-term oriented investing, especially from some of the biggest players. But, that investing can look small at first. Simply trying out a few things to see what data you can collect. AND get your headlines while you're at it. But, with the understanding that this is not the end. The products that you build and launches should lead to longer road maps and clearer pictures of user activity and engagement.

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