Second Life in the mid-2000s, pokemon go in 2016, Animal Crossing in 2020…and now Facebook’s announcement of creating 10,000 jobs in Europe to develop the Metaverse. Virtual reality and augmented reality are entering our daily lives through devices like the Oculus Quest or the defunct Google Glass, as well as branding in the columns of our favorite media. For many of us, however, this near future has never taken on the trappings of a tangible reality. However, it seems that this new turn of the Internet, even a revolution, is now visible on the horizon. And before determining the interest (or not) for the markings, it is advisable to define the contours.
In the world of technology, the Metaverse, contraction of “meta-universe” in English, is similar to “the next big thing” according to Mark Zuckerberg. It is a virtual environment that the user can access as an avatar through virtual or augmented reality glasses to chat with friends, play games, work, create, consume, earn a living. In short, a form of real -world stunt double in digital format. The field of possibilities is therefore infinite, with all the positive or negative aspects that this can entail. Those of you who could see it Ready Player One from Spielberg have had a chance to make this happen… Moreover, Facebook is far from the only one working on the Metaverse and has acknowledged that no company will own and operate it. Notably, Epic Games (Fortnite) has raised $1 billion to participate in the construction of the Metaverse. At the same time, all the major tech companies (Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, etc.) are working to create compatible devices to form a connection base to the Metaverse. Snap, for its part, has already deployed augmented reality lenses to develop advertising opportunities there. So we see a real shift for all players in the digital chain. With the development of augmented reality and virtual reality, marketing and advertising will also evolve.
While we can now see display ads or videos on our screens, we will definitely see new formats in the Metaverse. It could be a virtual salesperson trying his luck to offer us the latest toothpaste, product placements on virtual supermarket shelves, billboards as we know them in the real world… The Dunlop gateway of the 24-hour circuit Le Mans better keep an eye out! However, a number of questions remain unanswered. Which company will position itself in these new markets to host these new ads? Who will be able to create the best technology or the best ad formats in this parallel universe? Will the ad industry giants of today be giants of the Metaverse tomorrow? Will agencies outside the Metaverse be able to market locations or create innovative formats? Will interoperability between different Metaverses be effective? Will the market for digital objects surpass that of physical objects, as the British Museum has taken over the wave of NFTs and put two hundred of Hokusai’s digital works up for sale? No one can say that yet. However, we know that promoters of physical products will always need new audience hubs.
So to ensure that products or services are offered in this parallel universe to consume them in the real world, to give users the opportunity to live alternative experiences that will last in the physical world, this will certainly be the goal. from a large number of players, as Longchamp has already done in pokemon go. Create breathtaking events, virtual art galleries… The Metaverse knows no boundaries except those of our imagination. They will nevertheless have to remember that they are talking about avatars and remember that if reality can sometimes go beyond fiction, then virtual reality must naturally glorify reality.
This technological wave can therefore pose a real danger in his relationship with himself but also with others. If the Metaverse lays the foundation for an expansion of itself into the virtual, one of the main challenges will be to find harmony between the different identities, as an actor sometimes has to do at the end of a performance. On the other hand, some people could quickly fall into the trap of addiction by rejecting the reality of the physical world and embracing that of a virtual world that they prefer. This common behavior would mean the end of social relationships as we’ve always known them…
Ultimately, this technological revolution is not without danger. However, all players in the ad chain may be more concerned than ever. Positioning yourself on the starting line to dig your hole and be one of the winners on the finish line is now akin to a legitimate question. “There are no precursors, only laggards.” – Jean Cocteau
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