By Mohammed Mohsin, experience optimisation director, Reprise Digital
If there is one trend that dominated business conversations in 2022, it has to be the metaverse. While many people still struggle to define exactly what the metaverse is, there is no escaping its growing impact with more than 500,000 searches per month and an expected market size of $800bn by 2024, projected by Bloomberg.
In a nutshell, the metaverse is a sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality and the internet. It is a shared virtual space where megatrends converge, with the user experience augmented with the help of technology through avatars, shared screens and space or remote education and meetings.
Mark Zuckerberg famously calls it the ‘next internet’ and rebranded Facebook to Meta, stating that the metaverse would be his company’s focus. Devices and experiences will soon follow in the form of augmented reality, virtual reality and smart glasses. Microsoft recently acquired Activision Blizzard, a developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and products on consoles, mobile and PC. While Microsoft claims it was not a metaverse-focused acquisition, it will surely provide the company with metaverse opportunities. Google, Apple and many more tech brands are considering how they can take advantage of this intriguing new space.
Dubai’s race to the metaverse
As ever, the UAE is at the forefront of new technological advancements. Just recently, the Dubai Metaverse Strategy was launched with the goal of making the emirate one of the top 10 metaverse economies and aims to build on Dubai’s success in attracting more than 1,000 blockchain and metaverse companies. It also promotes Dubai’s goal of supporting more than 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030. Thus, metaverse marketing has become a hot topic in the digital marketing world in the UAE, particularly when it comes to e-commerce and SEO.
The rise of the metaverse has also given digital marketers a lot to think about. Staying updated with the latest technological advancements is crucial when competing in today’s marketplace. The potential for digital marketing in the metaverse is limitless as it offers new and unique opportunities for brands looking to promote, market and sell products and services and raise awareness. More than 95 per cent of Fortune 500 companies already rely on at least one social media platform to market their business, but there is scope to go much further when entering the world of marketing in the metaverse.
E-commerce and SEO in the metaverse
Ever since the term ‘omnichannel’ became a key concept in the retail industry, brands have been pushing to create cohesive experiences between e-commerce, stores and social media. That is why the metaverse is so enticing. It has the potential to improve current practices and create unique experiences for customers.
Creating a true customer journey in the metaverse is not a matter of duplicating a brand’s retail or online store into a virtual store. Instead, leaders building this new form of commerce need to be innovative and seize the opportunity to create a brand experience with their communities. It will also provide opportunities for brands to offer their customers hyper-personalised experiences without worrying about the boundaries of the physical world.
Additionally, with the advanced product visualisation capabilities in the metaverse, consumers can make more informed purchasing decisions, which could lead to increased profits. Indeed, studies show that consumers are willing to pay up to 40 per cent more for a product that can be tested in 3D – that is a serious incentive for brands in these challenging global economic times.
When it comes to SEO, just like when they transitioned into optimising to get found in search popular engines such as Google and YouTube, marketers now need to start analysing how to get found in the metaverse. Using keywords like ‘metaverse’ while optimising content will help attract the relevant audience via organic search results. Optimisations will still have to be domain-targeted and handled case-by-case. For Facebook (Meta) and the main search engines, it will be important to have optimal social pages and directory or location pages if companies have retail or office locations on each platform. Brands’ SEO strategists must stay up to speed with webmaster blogs and venue announcements for new guidelines and algorithm updates. The current algorithms reward brands for having more complete and accurate information. Expect this scoring pattern to continue and to be increasingly emphasised.
With the extraordinary revenue opportunities offered by the metaverse, competition for user attention and engagement will be fierce. Hence, the time for digital marketers to get familiar with this brave new world is not sometime in the next 12 months; it is right now.