According to Google Trends, daily searches for the term “metaverse” have increased 25x since Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook, Inc. formally changed its name to Meta. You might be wondering (like I was about a week ago) – what exactly IS the metaverse? And what does its creation mean for us as marketers? 

Well, the origin of the term comes from the 1992 novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, in which the metaverse was “where humans, as avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional virtual space that uses the metaphor of the real world.” Meta’s version isn’t too far off from how it was depicted in Snow Crash, with their official website stating “3D spaces in the metaverse will let you socialize, learn, collaborate and play in ways that go beyond what we can imagine.”

The early iterations of the Metaverse already exist today in places like Horizon, Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft, League of Legends and more. These spaces host numerous ways to interact, socialize, and build within a digital space. The next iteration, according to Zuckerberg, will be accessed via AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), which Meta has already been popularizing through their Oculus platform. 

You can also look at the metaverse as a shift away from devices that have been used for decades to access the internet. At first it was desktop computers that ruled the space, but now it’s mobile phones – and Meta is betting on AR/VR as the future of the internet. To not only interact through a screen, but to interact physically with a digital environment.

The Metaverse from a Marketing Perspective

From a marketing perspective, many of the same tactics could, theoretically, be applied in the metaverse. Imagine driving down the highway with a pair of AR glasses on. Advertisers could purchase space on digital “billboards” only viewable via AR, with no need for physical billboard real estate. Digital and traditional advertising channels would be blurred in the metaverse, with both channels having more interactivity within the space. At MHP/Team SI, we already deal in Tradigital marketing, but the introduction of the metaverse would elevate that to a new level.

The economic impacts of the shift toward a metaverse have already been emerging, with cryptocurrency and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) taking the mainstage in recent months and years. Earlier this year, Beeple’s “Everydays — The First 5000 Days” NFT sold for $69 Million via a Christie’s auction, placing Beeple among the top three most valuable living artists. As NFTs and cryptocurrency become more mainstream, so will their applications in the metaverse.

Zuckerberg estimates 1 billion users in his metaverse in the next 10 years – a lofty goal considering the technology needed to build his vision. Maybe one day he’ll replace keyboards too, and then I can write posts like this with my thoughts.