Our leading contender for 2021’s most overhyped trend is also likely the least surprising: the metaverse.
Though there might be some recency bias at play here (Facebook’s Meta makeover came at the end of October), marketers think talk of an entirely new *plane of existence* feels a bit overblown and misunderstood. Is the metaverse the future? Is it Facebook, or is it Roblox? Do we have to hang out with Zuckerberg and wear that silly headset?
“Marketers and brands are treating the metaverse and NFTs as if they were fully realized technology when both have long ways to go,” Dave Meeker, head of Dentsu’s design and innovation practice, told Marketing Brew over email.
Meta, meta, meta
So, what is the metaverse? It’s the “embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content—you are in it,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge. As The New York Times wrote, games like Roblox and Fortnite, as well as social media, have “metaverse tendencies.” But it largely remains a concept.
Naturally, like the internet, the metaverse will welcome brands whether people like it or not. Already this year we’ve seen brands from Adidas to McDonald’s to Chipotle dip their toes into the NFT and metaverse game to varying degrees of success. But we’re still a far ways off before your mom and dad join the blockchain with your one crypto cousin.
- To be clear: NFTs are essentially digital media with a virtual certificate of ownership.
- They’re often dropped by artists, resulting in a community built around these NFTs. Buying NFTs signals ownership in the metaverse—which, again, is still undefined.
Though there’s been incredible work done in AR and VR, explained Eric Franchi, an ad tech investor and general partner at AperiamVentures, “It’s still quite early.”
“The reality is you need all of these formats to be adopted by the hundreds of millions or billions of people that make a market meaningful to advertising,” he told us.
Same drop, different day
“In rocketing to adopt the newest thing in the fastest way possible, I worry we’re amputating their real creative potential,” Meeker said, noting that there will be “missed opportunities” if marketers don’t “think bigger”—for example, instead of buying an NFT from a cheap beer company, why shouldn’t our next car title be an NFT? What about an immersive holodeck for the next time we shop for an apartment?
More importantly, it’s still only 2021. There’s a long road ahead.
“We’re hearing brands say, ‘What should our position be on NFTs?’” Ana Milicevic, digital marketing consultant and cofounder of Sparrow Advisers, told Marketing Brew. But Milicevic said there’s not a lot of companies that need to have a strategy for the metaverse, at least not in the short-term. “If I’m a farm-equipment producer, do I really need a metaverse strategy in 2022? Probably not yet.”
The best of the rest
The death of the third-party cookie. Uhhh, we’ll take a bit of blame for this one.
- “Google drew a line in the sand, and then simply made a new line for 2023,” wrote Method Media Intelligence’s chief revenue officer, Marc Goldberg, referring to the fact that Google initially said the third-party cookie would be removed from Chrome by early 2022—then pushed the deadline to 2023 over the summer. “Despite all the hype, the impact to a marketer is not as significant. While Chrome has a majority of the market share, they are not the first browser to deprecate third-party cookies. Their announcement, complete with imminent dates, created a sense of urgency.”
The Great Resignation. Yes, it’s a thing. But some marketers think retention is the real issue at play.
- “I do think there’s a lot of emphasis on talent attraction right now because of how competitive the market is. But I also think that’s a short game. It’s somewhat short-sighted. There should be at least as much attention on talent retention,” Sarah Ann McCormick Walters, a VP of client engagement at creative agency Grow, said. “It’s one thing to hire. It’s another to keep them and keep them engaged…I mean, people quit for a reason.”