What it is, put simply:

The metaverse is a manifestation of web 3.0, meaning it's an interface which allows users to experience a new type of reality, digitally.

Web 1.0 = Reading, the emergence of search. It was a read only environment with the internet allowing access to information at speed & scale. Web 2.0 = Connecting, the introduction of conversation. This was the social web with platforms like Facebook enabling conversations online from anywhere. Web 3.0 = Experiencing, ‘IRL’ but online. Bridging the physical and digital worlds, think concerts, travel, land ownership & more.

How it all started:

The metaverse has been around for decades; Zuckerberg didn’t coin the term, but he did make it popular. In the beginning it could be seen in GPS, with a digital map showing your location in real time as an icon: You are here, now, but online. It then evolved into gaming with the release of ‘online play’ on Xbox or PlayStation consoles, allowing users to be present with their friends but in a digital world.

Where we are now:

There are two models of metaverse, closed which is centralised, and open which is decentralised.

A centralised metaverse is a virtual world that is controlled by one entity, think Fortnite. Users log in, have an avatar they can customise, attend events like Travis Scott’s ‘Astronomical’ concert, use the avatars for communication with other users, and buy goods. To buy these goods you need v-bucks, Fortnite’s in-game currency which can be purchased with real-world money. This is one of the key differences between centralised and decentralised; a centralised metaverse keeps your money in-game as profit for a value exchange, a decentralised metaverse allows consumers to trade or sell goods using crypto currency, which has real world value. For clients, the future of the metaverse will live in the decentralised world and will be in the hands of the users to govern.

How you access it:

  1. For most you need a crypto wallet like Coinbase or Binance

  2. Enter through Decentraland, The Sandbox or others

  3. A linked crypto wallet allows users to store virtual currencies and is a marketplace for buying & selling NFTs

  4. For brands, AR is the entry point to the metaverse. Whilst a full metaverse strategy isn’t necessary yet, AR activations today will help build the foundation for MR: Mixed Reality, which use AR & VR tech

The ‘metaverse’ we hear about isn’t quite here yet. Most digital worlds aren’t 100% decentralised, meaning they’re not completely built and are currently operated by a company rather than the people.

Each world is similar, but unique. Axie Infinity is a play-to-earn system where users are rewarded for quests and battles. Decentraland is a social world with a focus on art and galleries where auction houses like Sotheby’s have launched a showroom. And in The Sandbox, celebrities host concerts and creators build & sell NFTs to generate an income from the digital world, that sustains their life in the real physical world. In time, each virtual world will become completely decentralised, will live on the blockchain, and will merge into one digital world – THE metaverse.

How brands are engaging in this space:

  • Gucci launched their ‘Gucci Garden’ shop using Robolox where over a two-week period users could access the digital store to browse and buy limited-edition avatar apparel NFTs

  • Coca-Cola launched a retro style vending machine NFT which sold for $575K in an online auction with proceeds going to charity

  • Nike first entered the metaverse using AR & QR technology to give consumers access to their ‘House of Innovation’ digital experience in a physical store in NYC. Nike has since gone on to create Nikeland where users play esports, adventure and buy NFTs of Nike footwear and apparel

What to takeaway:

While many brands are still getting to grips with their D2C offerings, forward thinking brands are already looking at D2A, Direct-to-Avatar commerce with products like digital skins, apparel, footwear and more for sale. What brands need to consider moving forward:

  1. The metaverse matters

  2. It’s a great place to try new things before they become part of the brands omniverse identity

  3. It’s a place where everyone has an opportunity to create, but also monetize

  4. It’s a place for very intentional spending

To learn more about the metaverse and how Publicis Commerce can help your clients prepare for the future, reach out to our team.