The Alternate ‘You’ In the Metaverse (Part 2)

Published on February 23, 2022

In Part 1, we explored how content creators will drive the metaverse. Dividing content creators into two general buckets, we focused on one-half of the audience, including influencers, VTubers, and streamers. But it’s essential to explore how larger, brand-based content creators will drive the metaverse and how they can utilize digital personas.

Large brands have already begun to invest in the metaverse in different ways. But, much like individual content creators, it’s all centered around the experiences they are offering as part of their metaverse content creation efforts.

Nike’s acquisition of RFTK, an NFT studio that produces digital collectibles, in addition to its recent trademark filings, highlights the commitment of some of the most recognized brands. In the case of Nike, retailers can leverage the metaverse to sell virtual apparel, which can help bolster the sale of its physical products as well.

Nike isn’t alone. Hyundai launched their Mobility Adventure on Roblox, featuring their products. Taking it a step further, Disney shared its ambition to build its own metaverse. They submitted a patent to create a virtual amusement park in a 3D environment.

However, these experiences right now exist in disparate worlds that are not interoperable and seamlessly integrated. One way you can think of the metaverse is a collection of digital experiences that live on their own islands.

On the one hand, this decentralization makes it easier for a brand to enter a specific world and start making an impact with less noise and competition. At the same time, they also must stand out in a way that will attract people to their little space in the metaverse—that’s where brand digital personas can play a role.

Digital Personas as part of the brand experience

Brands looking to enter the metaverse need to consider their identity and what sort of experience they will offer to attract more users, and in turn, smaller content creators. Brand identities in the metaverse can be informed by the experiences they want to provide.

For example, Disney already has an upper leg on other brands in that they already have a collection of characters they can populate into a metaverse experience day one. For other brands, they might have a couple of options:

Utilizing NPCs (non-playable characters) to represent the brand

Build their own synthetic brand mascot(s)

Create synthetic versions of their CEO or other notable faces within the company

Work with content creators already in that space

Work with influencers, celebrities, or other well-known characters to insert a synthetic version of themselves as a brand representative into the metaverse

Most brands will eventually opt to do a combination of these different options. However, to start, most brands who aren’t going it themselves and don’t have an extensive IP base to pull from will want to minimize effort and cost to test the waters.

What I think we’ll see most brands do is take something that already exists in the real world and enhance it in the metaverse (Like Disney taking the amusement park and Nike doing store walkthroughs). But then, to attract people to this experience, they can leverage a well-known character or celebrity.

For example, Nike could have the synthetic version of Snoop Dog walk people through a store collection unique to the metaverse. For Disney, they could use characters as docents for their amusement park and make them interactive to give out quests to help users further explore the park.

Striking that balance of what brands are already doing with influencer marketing and combining it with a unique metaverse experience will be the standard approach in “phase one.” But if the metaverse does take off, the possibilities are exciting.

Commerce in the metaverse

Commerce is already happening in metaverse environments. Crypto and NFT trading are two that most people are familiar with since they aren’t necessarily exclusive to the idea of the metaverse. But many brands have also been buying a lot of real estate in different metaverse environments like Decentraland and Sandbox.

Brands can take this real estate and build brand centers on top of it to offer more of a stacked

experience rather than limited to space and time in the real world. For instance, a person could walk into a Nike store and tour their virtual apparel line, then step next door and watch live gaming, sport, or music events virtually in-person.

Naturally, there will always be things to keep users quite busy. But suppose brands take extra care to formulate a fun and engaging experience, from their digital identity to a repeatable experience (like Nike’s collectible approach or Disney’s 3D amusement park). In that case, they will find a more direct path to achieving success. At least in the infancy of the metaverse.

If the metaverse remains decentralized (and as it stands, it probably will be for the near future), brands will have to pay attention to what content attracts users and constantly evolve their metaverse identity and experiences accordingly.

Fisher Robinson is the Sr. Product Manager of Veritone Synthetic Voice. He has been immersed in the AI space for six years. During that time, Fisher has a record of accomplishments in building products from initial idea to mass market adoption. He specializes in designing, building, and operating machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions for key industries including media and entertainment and state and federal government agencies.

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