With the digitization of our lives, we've become citizens of the metaverse. It's not science fiction; it's the shift of our experiences from offline to digital. Every day we create and share content online. We share our thoughts, opinions, and pictures on social media. We buy and sell goods and services on e-commerce sites. We play games and watch videos on apps and websites. We are moving toward a world where creators can build entire worlds for us to explore, and the digital versions of ourselves can interact in these virtual environments.
What is the metaverse?
The term metaverse was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel, Snow Crash. In the story, humans are represented as avatars interacting with each other and software agents within a three-dimensional virtual space that uses the real-world metaphor.
In the early days of the internet, the term "metaverse," in particular, was applied to a future MMO in which users could "visit" real-life locations by downloading "passport" software. The user would then walk around real-world locations (called meta-universes), interacting with the spaces and objects in these worlds and, as a consequence, perceiving a three-dimensional experience of that location.
These new forms of entertainment, gaming, and online communications would have completely different economies. They would not follow the conventional rules of the existing business models, and they would not have to follow the existing infrastructure of the internet.
That vision has arrived.
The experience of wearing a VR headset isn't what the metaverse is about; it's the experience of choosing and owning a digital avatar, creating original work and assigning it meaning, and finding a connection with virtual experiences that match the emotional value of offline experiences. It's being able to value digital goods and the digital world on a par with the physical.
The metaverse is defined by its ability to connect people with ideas, and blockchain is fundamentally about connection. It's unfortunate for brands who are still skeptical of the tech, but there should be some serious returns for those who are already on board.
Blockchain tech and DeFi (decentralized finance) have created new economies and jobs. The digital world has blurred with the natural world as we oscillate between experiences. We can engage in gaming, participate in commerce, buy land, use digital items for real-world purposes, lend money and spend money, and more. NFTs have shown the path to virtual possessions and ownership. And the movement is just beginning.
The metaverse will be the most powerful marketing channel for the brands of tomorrow. There are trillions of dollars of potential ad spend available to IRL brands in the new metaverse. Entertainment and media are a massive opportunity, with concerts, sports events, and conferences all ripe for disruption.
Even platforms like Discord, a chat and gaming app, have become a part of the metaverse. It's a place where people from all over the world can come together and talk about their passions, their day-to-day lives, or just to hang out. Discord provides an environment that is welcoming to gamers, where the game is no longer the point--the connection is.
Users will create a more intimate and immersive connection with brands, similar to how many shoppers feel when they see the items in person for the first time. As people spend more time online, immersive experiences will continue to improve, and the experience of paying for an in-person experience will change. Soon there will be no physical walls between brands and their customers.
How will it change brands?
The metaverse has increased the power of our digital identities. As we are less concerned with what we physically look like and more about what we think, we will be more self-aware and authentic in our digital lives.
Brands can capitalize on the emerging cultural shift by becoming creators, curators, and producers of the metaverse--as long as they understand that they are now on an even footing with their consumers and audiences.
We have legions of writers, designers, and developers, with access to some of the world's best video game, editing, art, and creation tools, and the technology to deliver unique experiences through platforms like Rarible and OpenSea. Brands will need to find a way to compete with these new indie creators in a world where their offline clout may not be relevant.
As these experiences become more common, the things that can happen in a world of content are endless. Imagine that within the next ten years, we'll be able to find new ways to meet up in the metaverse to share experiences. The community's collective resources and engagement with the metaverse can be used to discover new business ideas.
The future of content, e-commerce, and engagement is in the metaverse. Your job is to prepare for that future today.