How your business can get the most out of the metaverseBy Lawrence Chia
From the MTR’s launch of a ‘Web3’ (an internet service using decentralised blockchains) metaverse partnership with The Sandbox platform to K11 MUSEA’s METAVISION NFT showcase on HSBC’s Main Building façade back in June 2022, signs of metaverse are proliferating in our lives, and proliferating fast.
It seems only yesterday that ‘metaverse’ was just an ill-defined buzzword mostly used by tech giants and innovators. Now metaverse is a real, blossoming ecosystem that is a must-have for the MICE industry and many others.
While doubts and hesitancy about its longevity and potential have largely dissipated, the urgent question remains: ‘How can we actually create value from the metaverse?’. With many different versions now available, businesses might ask ‘which metaverse?’ as well.
Having recently launched our own metaverse platform, I can share some tips from experience on how to find ‘real business’ in the virtual world.
It’s now or never
Let’s start with the obvious: The time to enter the metaverse is now, if you haven’t already. The market has already started to transition from theorising to actively exploring the metaverse, and more shilly-shallying will only result in being left behind.
According to PICO's annual market survey released in August, less than 30% of businesses have yet to even consider metaverse activity. Being among the first companies in the metaverse does not necessarily mean profits; but being late to the party will likely make profits harder to achieve.
What’s your ultimate purpose?
Your business’s metaverse goal might be to stimulate demand across new and existing market segments, for which you will need engaging content. Or you may be aiming to build brand experiences and communities, for which an immersive experience is necessary.
In short, whether you are attempting to create experiences, foster interaction or spur engagement, you must clearly identify your goals and develop a value-focused strategy.
Some common business opportunities in the metaverse include sales of products and spaces, creation of experiences and events, provision of distance work and training, or marketing services.
For example, The Sandbox, one of the most popular metaverse platforms, launched with the clearly defined goal of serving as “community-driven platform where creators can monetize voxel ASSETS and gaming experiences on the blockchain”. The Sandbox have since found great success via cryptocurrency and land transactions by corporations and other users.
The China-based YAOLAND metaverse platform, on the other hand, has positioned itself as a marketing and NFT platform for brands. It generates revenue by offering a virtual marketing platform and services to corporations, and has launched NFTs in collaboration with museums and artists, including the National Gallery in the UK.
Find your place
Some of the more common business activities surrounding the metaverse ecosystem involve delivering immersive content and experiences in existing platforms, and developing a proprietary comprehensive platform for marketing, entertainment, etcetera.
By building your metaverse presence around your business’s strengths, you are taking a cost-efficient shortcut to capturing value.
YAOLAND is a good example: Its founders – China Unicom subsidiary Shanghai Wocheng, Net263 Ltd, and Pico – have contributed their respective expertise in experiential marketing, 3D virtual streaming, cloud gaming and rendering, along with a large existing mobile user base. Capitalising on this know-how and array of resources, YAOLAND positions itself as a HTML5 immersive gamified virtual marketing platform, providing both engaging content to users and brand activation platform for corporations.
Steps to success
There can be no one-size-fits-all solution to your metaverse ambitions. Finding what will work in relation to your company’s strengths, market trends and audience preferences is to some extent a matter of trial-and-error, testing and adaptation.
That doesn’t mean launching new initiatives with a reckless abandon; instead, develop your new ideas thoughtfully to explore opportunities such as NFTs, immersive experiences or native advertising, and to establish a solid yet flexible metaverse presence.
All your activities should contribute to understanding your audience. Data gained from users will enable you to analyse their behaviours and experiences and further narrow down what works, what doesn’t, and what might hold potential. Creating or adopting an effective data-driven analytics solution is therefore essential for business in the metaverse.
Finally, be prepared to scale your metaverse capabilities, as market conditions there can change fast. Source the talent you need and establish the technology infrastructure and tooling in advance, whether through expanding your talent acquisition and development programme or by establishing a partnership with a technological powerhouse.
By following these steps, you can form a clearer picture of your place in the metaverse and where the monetisation and business opportunities lie.
But this is far from being the last word on the metaverse. It’s early days yet, and we have barely scratched the surface of its full potential. My best advice is to dip your toe in now; the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll find what awaits you.