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A meaningful metaverse is not easily understood

Matt Horobin

Published: Updated:

So long as leveraged with precision and, most importantly, purpose, the technology around the metaverse is a potentially powerful tool that all businesses and brands should be evaluating.

Given all the noise around it today, it’s impossible to ignore the metaverse and web3. But it’s difficult for businesses and brand leaders to know whether they should jump into this space or let the hype blow over. Many ask if they should put on their blinkers or straps on their headsets.

With the investments by those that already control our everyday technology and media ecosystems, be they Facebook (sorry Meta), Google, Microsoft, TikTok, etc., it is likely to enter our everyday reality over time, one way or another.

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But as business and brand leaders, perhaps running at break-neck speed to embrace it isn’t necessarily the best route to develop product awareness from consumers. With all the excitement, it is vital to remember one fundamental premise: that all technology is just a means to an end, which applies to all technologies.

Any product shaped by a meaningful intent or outcome brings a tangible benefit that will lend a purpose to applying technology and inspire customer interaction.

This point is well illustrated by US Investment bank Piper Sandler’s recent research finding that 48 per cent of American teens stated they are either “unsure” or “not interested” in the metaverse. It is not because the metaverse and its multiple future use-cases have fallen short of their expectations. It’s simply because, in this question (as in reality), the metaverse is an undefined technology.

The answer would likely have been different if the question had been reframed and connected to their world with greater relevance. So, people presumably are likely to answer “no” if they are interested in the metaverse. But, if asked if they are interested in exploring the virtual world of their favorite game with their friends and the game’s creators themselves to learn more about how it was conceived, the answer is likely to be an: “absolutely.”

It’s unlikely the metaverse will look like Mark Zuckerberg playing card games with his friends, but instead will look like many things - many things built by many people for business customers to experience Matt Horobin writes. (Stock image)
It’s unlikely the metaverse will look like Mark Zuckerberg playing card games with his friends, but instead will look like many things - many things built by many people for business customers to experience Matt Horobin writes. (Stock image)

Adding meaningful and motivating context connected to a clear benefit makes us far more likely to connect with - and excite - our audience.

It isn’t achievable by copying others. Using that age-old combination of innovation and imagination is the way forward, only less defined by the cutting-edge tech itself and more characterized by old-fashioned creativity.

When leveraging the metaverse and unlocking unique, ownable opportunities for a brand, the tried and tested process to adopt requires an appreciation of the potential of the technology connected to an intuitive understanding of the customer. Then you can start to explore ways to communicate with relevance.

Relevancy is the key ingredient here – not only for the audience but also for the brand itself. The adage “always stay true to oneself” applies perfectly to both. Strengthening the simple idea that sits at the heart of what the brand does is essential because otherwise, it will confuse and weaken the proposition. Only when brand owners are convinced will this add meaning and value should they proceed.

It often feels like technology and culture are moving impossibly fast for all of us. As if, in the words of Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter, ‘It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place.’

There is a different perspective. That is a world where new technologies are constantly whizzing around us; you don’t need to grab them the second you see them. Instead, by taking a breath and figuring out what the customer wants from the brand, it becomes easier to find out what helps build a customer base.

Truer today than ever before, the most pertinent pacemaker for a brand and business is not technology’s bleeding edge but the customer’s needs. If the metaverse can benefit a company’s core audience and, with it, the brand name, then and only then should that company step into this domain.

Often attacked by skeptics as ’a solution searching for a problem,’ I would frame the metaverse as an ample opportunity in front of us - a new set of untapped technologies waiting for their robust customer use cases to be found.

I don’t believe it will look like Mark Zuckerberg playing card games with his friends or some new, more immersive version of Pokémon Go. It will look like many things. Many things were built by many people, for many people. Maybe by you, for your customers.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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