It's a question asked at every level of the advertising and media business: What is the metaverse?
Most of the time, the answers are incorrect, Wiktoria Wójcik, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of inStreamly, a company connecting streamers to brands, says in a guest column for AdAge.
“To put it simply, the metaverse does not exist yet,” Wójcik says. “While VR, Unreal/Unity engines, and 5G will be used in creating the metaverse, none of them are the metaverse itself. The same is true for Gen Z’s and millennials’ acceptance of digital identities, online friendships and spending time in digital space.”
Further clarifying, Wójcik breaks down and defines the key terms. “A metaplatform allows you to create your space, like a Facebook fan page or Wordpress blog. A metaspace or metaworld, like a profile or website, is your space in 3D. The metaverse is like the internet, the universal standard and network connecting metaplatforms. It is confusing because while websites and platforms came after the creation of the internet—worlds, games and platforms are preceding the metaverse.”
Therefore, Wójcik says, neither virtual reality, gaming and virtual spaces or Web3 are the metaverse. “The metaverse is about spatial internet, a second universe. Both are branches of the future of the internet, can coexist, and will intertwine. However, they are separate ideas. The metaverse will emerge from these platforms and the way people use them. It’s ok to say they are the proof of concept of the metaverse, but selling them to clients as the metaverse is dishonest.”
Wójcik points out that many buzz-generating concepts, while important for brands to know, are not the metaverse themselves. “Communities and fandoms, interactive experiences, appreciating niche creators and fandoms, freedom of creation and monetization – while still new for brands and most consumers, these are all part of a cultural shift that brands need to be aware of,” she says. “As a representative of Gen Z that is targeted by most of [your marketing campaigns] — and cringes a lot because of it — I want to ask for one thing: the buzzword can’t come before the value and quality for the audience.”
According to Wójcik, the evolution of the metaverse has begun. “Games will evolve into metaspaces. Platforms will become more open and decentralized, allowing for independent creation. VR hardware will be cheaper and easier to obtain. And we will make a massive leap in haptic devices and networking speed and reliability. It’s up to us to educate clients on this journey.”