Digital Marketing Trends 2022 (Part 3 – Metaverse)

This outtake focused on digital marketing trends 2022 is taken from an hour of discussion recorded exclusively with Mike Berry, marketing consultant, MSc in Digital Marketing trainer and published author and MMC’s own Rene Power.

In this third part, 14 minutes long, Mike and Rene talk all about the rise of the Metaverse, Facebook’s move towards to it and the pros and cons for businesses seeking to ride the train.

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Origins of the Metaverse

Mike Berry:

Let’s talk about the M word, shall we? (Meta)

Opinions vary. It’s very early. I have to confess that in the 20th century, I did read this book at the time it came out, shows how old I am, or gives you some idea. I thought it was great. It was actually, as it turns out, prescient.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson was a, whatever you call it, science fiction, science fantasy, but very much looking ahead to something after the internet.

At that time, the internet itself was only just being invented. They were already looking to this thing, which literally Neal Stephenson did call the Metaverse.

To my knowledge, that was the first mention of it.

Rene Power:


Second Life to Third Life?

Mike Berry:

Also in the 20th century, I worked in something called Second Life, which is something to admit, isn’t it? Wasn’t actually in Second Life. Although obviously, had to go on the platform “into the space”, to explain it and to discuss it.

We were a consultancy that helped companies get into Second Life. I will happily admit that that one didn’t work very well, because it was just too early. Bleeding edge and leading edge. I think it was the former. It wasn’t quite good enough. The technology wasn’t quite good enough.

In a different field at that time, there was a company called BOO, and the fantastic book about the experience of BOO, which was a early version of ASOS, I would say.

It was a clothes retailer. It was at the height of the first dotcom boom. It was crazy times. I wasn’t involved in it and I’m not blaming anyone, but money was thrown at ventures, which were never going to work.

Rightly or wrongly, people were just drunk. They were crazy. Business models seemed to go out the window. Okay, it’s the internet, everything’s free. Let’s just get into it now.

Investors did a lot of rash things. Second Life was a bit like that. Second Life was a scramble. It had pains that I remember to point out, that we’re not a game. This is a place, it’s a space.

I’m ready to concede that it was 20 years too early, maybe, or 15, and that now maybe, the technology has advanced to a level that we can actually have a good experience in a place that feels real, but which is effectively virtual reality. I think that’s what Facebook is planning for. It doesn’t have to happen this year or even next.

You could call it Third Life. Maybe I should copyright that, or at least write a blog. Are we ready for Third Life?

The Metaverse is not clearly defined. What Neal Stephenson visualised way back could be how it turns out. Facebook have their own ideas about it, and Facebook have said, we are now called Meta, and we are going to be ready for the Metaverse, as it is created.

It extends computing ability way beyond what’s available today.

“It’s a persistent immersive environment with decentralised collaborative interoperable digital content. It’s the next evolutionary stage of the internet.”

This is according to Gartner, but everyone admits, most people admit that it’s going to be a while.

While the benefits and opportunities are not immediately viable, there are potential use cases, and Metaverse experience will not replace current digital interactions, but they may displace some of them. This is again, according to Gartner’s insights.

We were talking earlier, weren’t we, Rene, about the Metaverse and the fact that some companies are already dipping their toe in this growing field.

Rene Power:

Yeah. I came across something on LinkedIn, again, at the time of recording this.

Real brands like Gymshark are working in the Metaverse

If you look up Gymshark, which is one of the sports retail brands, real success story, the last few years, young entrepreneur that set that up, a chap called Ben Francis, he was talking on LinkedIn with his social media person, and they shared some footage from a team meeting that they were having in this place, presumably with their Oculus Rifts on and the like. Whilst it looked very impressive, it did look a bit Second Life.

They were talking through, sitting opposite the table from each other, and how you have true 360-degree vision. You could run screen shares live in the app. It was taking the notion of virtual interaction on quite a few steps, because given where we are at the minute in quite, staid, Zoom, Microsoft Teams-style environments like this, where we can run some polls, we can do this live. We can pre-record, we can break out, we can do some chats.

It’s very one dimensional, isn’t it? We’re looking at a screen, and it’s not particularly … What’s the right word?

Mike Berry:

Yeah, engaging, immersive.

Rene Power:

Yeah. Immersive is the right word. I think you’re right.

I think the technology has caught up with the concept now, such that we can deliver more ready experiences. I remember having one of these headsets that you … I think I put my iPhone in it, and then the kids would play silly 3D games on it. Oculus and the like take it to a whole different level, don’t they? They are, in some instances, probably 4K, very, very high-def, very rich environments. There’s quite a lot going on.

I think that’s where, with concepts like this, you want the big boys to go and get busy with it, and populate it, and make it work. Then, we’ll all follow later.

This is definitely one for the deep pocketed, early adopters, isn’t it?

Ready Player One is already a reality

It reminds me of the recent Spielberg film, Ready Player One, where people are living a quite dispirited existence. Then, they pay to go into this game with the headsets, where they are somebody else. It’s a very different thing, but they’re spending more time in there playing the game, if you like, than they are actually in their real life. You wonder, is that some kind of parable for a future to come? I don’t know.

Mike Berry:


Rene Power:

Yeah. When technology catches up with quite crazy ideas, that’s where the sparks start to fly, isn’t it?

Mike Berry:

We’re going way beyond present-day marketing, aren’t we? Into this world that Facebook envisage. My take on it, for what it’s worth, is that Facebook’s just putting a marker in the sand and saying, okay, we’re even called Meta.

We obviously are a Metaverse company, and it means they can do stuff like their acquisition of Oculus, and they can acquire other businesses, and hire 10,000 people to work on the Metaverse in Europe.

It’s as if they’re growing up or want to be seen to be growing up beyond just being a social network, or two or three social networks, or two social networks and two mobile apps.

This is allowing them to be a much broader company. It’s also saying the Metaverse is going to happen, it’s going to get bigger, and we’re going to be right in there in the middle of it. I’m sure Google have other ideas, and Amazon.

Rene Power:

I’m sure they do. I think from a business perspective, it makes sense, because it makes the world smaller, and we’re all interlinked now, anyway.
We’re all working on a global level, and we’re all equally reliant on each other from a business perspective.

I think the really interesting thing that might drive this is the social side, and the fact that we’re already spending hours every day, looking down into our phones and engaging with stuff that we’re seeing there, and not looking up as often as we should. You just think, some of this stuff is the next iteration of that, isn’t it?

You think Ready Player One, and it might come around a lot sooner than we think. There will be these commercial opportunities there, and there will be social opportunities coming out of that as well, I’m sure.

Mike Berry:

Yeah. Also, it may get to the stage where marketers can’t afford to ignore it, which has happened with social media.

If you think how different today’s social platforms are from bulletin boards and the things we had in the 1990s, this may be as different from our current social media again.

Mark Zuckerberg from Meta, practicing saying that, I nearly said Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg of Meta said it’ll take five to ten years before the Metaverse is real. Whatever, however you define that. Some of it’s already here.

We’ve got ultra-fast broadband speeds. What’s ultra? We can always use more speed, can’t we? Like we can always use more bandwidth, et cetera.

Compare with what we had. I remember someone saying a two-meg pipe is pretty exciting. We’ve got massively improved speeds, at least we can say that. We’ve got less clunky headsets, and the revisions o