What can the metaverse offer media advertising clients?

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


Greetings from London.

In this newsletter, I want to focus on a “very much en vogue” topic: the metaverse. Specifically, I want to focus on some insights as to what the metaverse means for our advertisers as we may well be asked about it by them and/or want to include metaverse opportunities for them in the range of offerings we have to entice them with to spend money with us.

Let’s start at the beginning … 

For well over 50 years now, legacy media has been extremely impactful at reaching large audiences. However, in recent times, customer preferences are shifting rapidly, e.g., the rise social media platforms and streaming services, plus digital generally becominghugely important. And it’s not going away.

Advertisers now need to look for channels that aid their need for new platforms and formats. As digital consumption and e-commerce are becoming more dominant, advertisers need to find a way to achieve the same/increased results (and revenue) through these new outlets. This will make sure they not only keep up with consumers but also establish better user experiences for them. 

While there will always a requirement for both a buy and sell side and the relevant technology to enhance the ecosystem, it is important to not forget the customer.

Since the pandemic, when customers had their daily lives refocused onto a virtual space, social and digital platforms marched ahead of the more traditional ones — and advertisers suddenly needed to raise their game and find a new way to connect.

Blended existence

Customers are now emerging from the pandemic and learning to live a more “blended” existence, so it’s true brands must re-adapt again.

Brands have been fairly swift to adjust to the new on-demand and increasingly virtual culture we’re now living in, with many now beginning to experiment with starting their own“metaverses” (more on this later in this newsletter). However, until those ecosystems achieve scale, it’s unlikely we will see ad experiences reach the dizzy new heights that a new XR/VR/AR world promises.

Advertisers need to keep up

For advertisers to be successful, they need to utilise technology that can help them track how they are performing against each platform or channel — and in the process, understand their customer needs better. 

We’re in an unstoppable march forward where advertisers and agencies need to be more empowered from a software/technology point of view, ensuring they construct campaigns with the best mix of traditional and digital media to get the best out of the channels, based on the data available to them.  

With the digital ad industry, everything is changing quickly due to the rapidly changing consumer behaviours and expectations … and the advances in technology.

The forward-thinking advertiser must keep up with these changes. And maybe from a consultative point of view, this is where we, as media companies can win.

I have mentioned before the need to show understanding and industry insights with our advertisers and agencies. Maybe the above can help you add another layer of understanding when dealing with them.

Knowledge, as ever, is power!

Metaverse: How it may change for our advertisers’ focus 

As previously mentioned, the metaverse, very much in its infancy, has yet to achieve scale. But once again, if we show we understand the landscape and convey to our agencies and advertisers that understanding, we can get a closer bond with them. 

Here are my top 10 insights/thoughts on how I see the landscape changing over time, which may serve as a guide for you in certain consultative selling opportunities with (particularly, retail) clients, which is where I think the metaverse will come to the fore first. 

  1. Customer support services will be made far easier through Augmented Reality (AR). Callouts could be done virtually (great for doctors who don’t always need to visit a patient’s home or a DIY store who can advise remotely), and AI assistants will be able to reply to any frequently asked questions whilst getting smarter all the time in terms of capabilities.

    Augmented Reality will give advertisers a tangible way to communicate with customers.
    Augmented Reality will give advertisers a tangible way to communicate with customers.
  2. The metaverse will allow advertisers to view and be able to highlight specific products or objects when talking to their customers. This will make it much easier to give advice if a customer is struggling to, say, assemble (or fix) a broken product or just asking for guidance.
  3. Client advertising should be adapted for the metaverse. Whilst this new world will create many new opportunities, in some cases it’s initially all about taking what they are doing and adapting it to this virtual environment. A toe in the water at first.
  4. From a search point of view, local shops, restaurants, etc., could use AR/VR tech to give consumers a 3D experience of their online listing. There are some commentators who see the metaverse as the future of social media, so we need to keep a watch on social platforms like Facebook/Meta, who are already becoming active in this space and are building opportunities for companies as I write.
  5. Interoperability (i.e., the ability of equipment or groups to operate in conjunction with each other) is an important feature of the metaverse, so any content created will need to work across the whole range of options as customers move between real and virtual worlds.
  6. Advertisers can create an inspirational and totally unique environment. The metaverse allows brands to build virtual environments that can tell their story in a way they never thought possible previously.
  7. Advertisers can build a metaverse “store front,” where consumers can interact with/purchase products or services. It’s only limited by the imagination in that it could be shown as being say, on a tropical beach, in space, in a sports arena (or whatever is appropriate). A virtual showroom could be an enticing, swish place to chat with clients. Headsets and motion trackers will be examining the implications of body language, face expressions, and vocal tones, allowing the advertiser to engage with customers in a truly personalised way.
  8. Advertisers could offer a virtual “try on before you buy.” Within a virtual high street, it’s not difficult to see customers using their digital persona to try on virtual clothing. AR allows people to see what a product will look like on before buying. Brands are already using this technology to allow customers to try on makeup, reading glasses, or place furniture in their house (IKEA has done this for a while now. See here). This tech is applicable to a whole range of advertisers, including retailers, real estate agents, etc.

    Ikea is already using AR to allow customers to visualise purchases in their space before they buy.
    Ikea is already using AR to allow customers to visualise purchases in their space before they buy.
  9. We should consider how our advertisers’ products keep value in the metaverse. The metaverse will have its own economy. Indeed, we are now beginning to see high worth examples of this in the likes of NFTs, in the digital real estate market, in gaming, and with brands selling clothes (or skins as they’re known) for people to dress their own avatars in.
  10. So, as an advertiser, your client could adapt their brands’ customers with specific products or services just to be used in the metaverse. Just like a “normal” economy, entertainment, fashion, design, art, and many services will all hold high value in the digital world. 

I spoke to leading XR/VR/AR expert Stephen Shaw about all this recently. His point is: Advertisers need to realise that we are moving to an era where consumers will be able to export their avatar (their online persona) as an Augmented Reality asset. A 3D, volumetric, holographic, video version of themselves as an avatar, which challenges how we will think about who customers really are.

Stephen told me: “Metaverse doesn’t mean escaping out into a virtual world necessarily. Through AR, we can bring the metaverse out into the real world onto our coffee tables, into bars, restaurants, etc., in the real world. The new way of advertising is all about brand experiences, and metaverse allows for this in ways yet to be conceived.”

I recently interviewed Stephen for my radio show (The UK Brand Show). Check it out above for all you need to know about what both the metaverse is and some of issues I have covered today.

6 ways/opportunities to advertise in the metaverse

Having understood what all the above implies, we can then look at the opportunities that exist for (all types of) advertisers in the metaverse to see where client media budgets can be attributed.

Here are my top six:

  • Ad placements: Just think real-world advertising such as billboards, outdoor signage, and roadside/bus posters etc. — except in the metaverse. It’s not hard to visualise. Video game series such as Grand Theft Auto have promoted brands in their games for years already.‍
  • Product placements: Similar to real-world product placements, brands can place their product in fit-for-audience experiences in the metaverse. For example, Hasbro recently partnered with game Roblox (a global platform that brings people together through gaming) to bring “Nerf” guns to life in the metaverse. Nerf guns are real world “blasters” and accessories including darts, water, and lasers.

  • Experience placements: Gucci also partnered with Roblox to launch a Gucci-themed world in its metaverse. Players can enter the world, buy in-game content using real money, and so on. In fact, one player spent US$4,000 on a virtual Gucci “limited edition” handbag. Read about it here.
  • Event placements: The hip-hop performer Travis Scott recently teamed up with Epic Games to perform a concert for Fortnite users. The live concert got over 12 million live viewers. Now, a range of digital Travis Scott items can be bought here.
  • Owned metaverse: Aside from partnering with existing “metaverses” that might only get you in front of a relatively narrow type of audience, you could create your own metaverse to serve your specific objectives — for example, with real estate sellers or car dealers, using to help them market and sell their property via AR and VR tours. Maybe this is a resurgence of our classified ads in the making? See this link (and one below) for how the real estate is now using Virtual and Augmented Reality to revolutionise its selling process.
  • NFTs: Finally, brands are exploring digital products by way of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) that can be purchased through crypto exchanges or within the metaverse. For example, Nike is in the early stages of rolling out virtual branded sneakers and clothing. See link.

Further reading

About this newsletter 

Today’s newsletter is written by Mark Challinor, based in London and lead for the INMA Advertising Initiative. Mark will share research, case studies, and thought leadership on the topic of global news media advertising. Sign up for the newsletter here.

This newsletter is a public face of the Advertising Initiative by INMA, outlined here.

E-mail Mark at Inma.mark@gmail.com with thoughts, suggestions, and questions or follow him on Twitter (@challinor).

About Mark Challinor

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