How Marketers Can Approach Gaming As A Gateway To The Metaverse

Talk of an immersive virtual world abounds, but many interested brands don’t know how to tap in. The answer may be right on their consoles, writes MMI Agency vice president of research and insights Brandi Lalanne.

The concept behind the metaverse has, in many respects, evolved out of multiplayer online gaming. / Adobe Stock

The metaverse might feel like a brand new concept, but in fact the seeds of it have been around since around 1995, with the advent of Massively Multiplayer Online Games, or MMORPGs — open virtual worlds in which visitors can explore, socialize, shop, play, and much more.

Despite the current hype, the metaverse is still very much in its nascent form. It doesn’t even have a clear-cut definition. Many of the the companies that are investing in staking their claim in the metaverse are hoping to shape its evolution. This can be difficult for non-Fortune 100 brands who may not have the technical infrastructure or resources to create a virtual world.

It doesn’t have to be! Because brands at any stage or level can use gaming as their point-of-entry and testing ground for what’s to come.

Pay attention to the data

Consider the data: the 2022 Entertainment Software Association found that the average age of the gaming population is between 18-34 years-old, and that 46% of that population are women. These is one of the most sought-after demographics for many modern brands – which marks gaming as a valuable marketing channel.

When we talk to brands, we present them ideas that are strategic and flexible enough to live in a variety of spaces—including the metaverse. Their questions are often around ROI and how it ladders into marketing objectives along with cost, feasibility and value to the consumer.

How can marketing through gaming – and in the evolving metaverse – provide ROI for brands? What strategies will brands need to adopt in order to effectively engage with their audiences through these channels? Here are three tips:

Create something for players

Brands need to meet their consumers where they are – and give them something they’ll like. In the case of virtual environments, this can be achieved through through downloadable content (DLC), such as skins in Fortnite.

“Loot boxes” can also be a great way for brands to gain awareness in virtual worlds. Dropping in-game special items for players, such as coupons and loyalty points that can be used towards physical products, is an easy way to provide both fun and value to consumers.

Going live (virtually)

In 2020, there was a surge in brands hosting and sponsoring live virtual events – and this has proven to be a trend with staying power. Putting together a virtual concert, for example – such as Blackpink’s 2022 performance on PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) – can be a great way for brand’s to engage with their audiences and boost their reputations in virtual environments.

Partner up

Not all brands have the technical expertise to launch virtual campaigns on their own. And that’s okay! There are plenty of partnership opportunities out there to be had.

For example: If you’re a small consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand, you might consider working with a retailer like Walmart, which launched two branded campaigns on the gaming platform Roblox in September. If you’re in the food and beverage space, it might pay off to, say, partner with Molson Coors, whose subsidiary company Miller Lite launched a bar in the blockchain-based virtual environment Decentraland during the 2022 Super Bowl.

The bottom line

When created with care, branded campaigns in virtual spaces can bring both value and delight to consumers. And while we might have a ways to go before the metaverse – as it’s being imagined by some of its most vocal proponents – is fully up and running, brands have an opportunity now to become pioneers in this burgeoning digital realm.

Exploring the opportunities that are currently available through the gaming industry is a great way for brands to engage with their audiences and fine-tune their strategies for adapting to the future.

Brandi Lalanne is vice president of research and insights at MMI Agency.

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