One of Boson Protocol’s technology chiefs claims the metaverse has reached the point of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ it will dominate the future of commerce.
Holly Atkinson, Head of Metaverse Technology, has been researching what mainstream use of the metaverse could mean for advertising and marketing.
Recently, Boson Protocol announced it had built Boson Portal – a sort of ‘virtual mall’ for Decentraland users to browse virtual items in the metaverse and have the physical item delivered to their door.
Atkinson told Coin Rivet the metaverse can be viewed as a new iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.
“It has often been defined as an alternate digital reality where people can socialise and play,” she explained.
“The term originated in a 1992 science fiction novel titled ‘Snow Crash’, but its meaning is evolving far beyond the initial notion of the convergence of physical and virtual realities.”
She said that, 20 years ago, it was unlikely advertisers would have believed you if you told them they would be spending such a significant amount of their budget on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Yet in the last decade, online platforms have become the lifeblood of countless companies, allowing them to reach much wider and targeted audiences than ever before.
“Projected global social media advertising revenue of $153.7bn in 2021 is expected to grow to $229.6bn in 2025,” she said.
“It might seem like a pie in the sky notion when we hear people saying how the metaverse will change the way companies and consumers interact.
“However, in the past few months, we have already reached a point where the question is not whether the dominance of the metaverse is going to happen, it is a question of when that is going to happen.”
Atkinson further stressed that great examples can be seen in everyday life.
“Fashion conglomerates such as Gucci, Vans and Ralph Lauren have each already demonstrated their commitment to the metaverse via their respective entries into the space,” she described.
“Gaming platform Roblox, seen as darlings of the metaverse, are valued at a whopping near-$50bn.”
She also added that near-million dollar virtual land purchases in the likes of Decentraland – an open metaverse – were on the rise, while the company’s market cap increased five times in the wake of Facebook’s Meta announcement.
Atkinson also stressed that if companies want to be prepared for the future, they will need to adapt their businesses to take advantage of the metaverse sooner rather than later.
Metaverse enables new experiences for buyers and sellers
Atkinson said around 86% of Gen Z members nowadays use their mobile devices as gaming platforms.
“In addition to this, an estimated 18% of people in the United States will be users of virtual reality (VR) technology in 2021,” she added.
“Gaming and VR industries are rapidly on the rise and will give way to even more immersive experiences within the metaverse, presenting new opportunities for marketers and advertisers. ”
Atkinson also pointed out that the metaverse enables new and exciting experiences for both buyers and sellers that have never before existed. In-store retail allows customers to visit a shop, outlet, or a fashion show to participate in or experience any brand activation or a related event hosted by the brands themselves.
“The advent of the metaverse removes the need to go in store and allows brands to have direct contact with their customers without requiring intermediaries,” she explained.
“Virtual fashion shows within the metaverse are already a reality, but they are by no means the extent of what the metaverse makes possible.
“For example, companies can now advertise within the metaverse by working with a company called ‘Metaverse Billboards’.
“The composable nature of the metaverse means that any sort of advertising campaign or activation activity is possible – all we need is to bring together the brightest minds in creativity and technology.”
She also suggested that, within the metaverse, items could be displayed in an entirely new and immersive way.
“Imagine being able to try on outfits at a virtual store before you buy them for both your avatar and your wardrobe, or complete an in-game quest to win a unique pair of highly-sought-after shoes,” she elaborated.
“All of these monumental advances towards bridging the gap between the digital and the physical can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home, which is particularly relevant in the times we live in where travel is still restricted in many parts of the world.”
Atkinson argued that the version of ourselves we present in traditional social media is somewhat rooted in reality.
“Within the metaverse, consumers can present a version of themselves that is not constrained by physical boundaries but only limited only by the boundaries of their imaginations,” she says.
“The technology now exists to allow individuals to buy a virtual product for their avatars within the metaverse, and then purchase a physical representation of that item in the real world.
“Brands that offer consumers the opportunity to make such in-game purchases redeemable in store have a unique chance to create new, lasting brand relationships with digital citizens never experienced before.”
Lessons to be learned from Facebook
The convergence of massive fashion and technology companies moving into the space will, said Atkinson, undoubtedly have a profound impact on the space itself.
“For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s rebranding announcement saw a massive uptick in searches of the term ‘metaverse’, and his entry into the space will have reverberations for some time to come.”
This has, according to her, evoked justified concerns; the idea of creating a limitless world merging the digital and the physical should be actualised openly, free from the domination of big tech companies, lest this alternate reality becomes controlled by centralised oligopolies, similarly to the world of social media.
Still, she stressed, there are lessons to be learned from Facebook’s successful experience in transforming digital advertising and offering companies an opportunity to vastly increase ROI and communicate with consumers in new ways.
“The metaverse is already upon us, and for brands, retailers and consumers alike, there is an immense opportunity not to be missed,” she concluded.
Holly has been working in the blockchain space as a developer for a number of years with companies such as The Sandbox, Tracr, and Ørsted.
She is also a physicist and member of Meta Gamma Delta DAO which supports women-led projects in Web3.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.