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One in Three Marketers is Metaverse-ready as New Insights Emerge Supporting Investments in Virtual Environment Technologies

Most business leaders are asking their CMOs: “Are you metaverse-ready?” A majority of the marketers are either planning to invest in metaverse-like technologies or building a foundation to become metaverse-ready in the next 2-3 years. According to Sitecore’s latest report, 31% of the marketers already have a metaverse-ready strategy in their existing marketing campaigns. 56% of the marketers are investing in similar immersive content capabilities such as augmented reality or virtual reality (AR / VR). For marketers who are aware of metaverse’s immense capabilities in their digital environment, early investments into mixed reality technologies could become a game-changer. These are a strategic investments into metaverse that target and influence consumers who have an access to a virtual reality console (47%) or gaming console (33%) already. 87% of the consumers understand that the metaverse will play a significant role in the way that they shop and interact with brands.

That’s why, marketers should waste no more time in analyzing where is metaverse heading, and immediately start their groundwork toward becoming savvy with metaverse-ready planning and executions. Although the technology is still evolving, the metaverse is a new frontier for marketers, and recent data shows consumers are eagerly anticipating brands’ entry into virtual environments.

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According to the 2022 Perceptions of the Metaverse Report released from Sitecore®, a global leader in end-to-end digital experience software, nearly half of all U.S. consumers (42%) say they’re metaverse enthusiasts and when it comes to experiencing these digital environments, they’re most excited about the opportunity to attend virtual events, pursue thrill seeking adventures, tour homes, try on clothes, buy cars and explore places before traveling to them. With a bucket list this extensive, it’s no surprise that four in five consumers (79%) polled expect to spend more time in the metaverse than other social media apps, like Facebook and Instagram.

How much could CMOs be spending on Metaverse campaigns?

According to Sitecore, two-thirds of the marketers who have a metaverse-ready strategy could be investing more than 10% of their total marketing budget on metaverse alone. 71% of the marketers might choose to work with influencers within the metaverse space, even as a very high percentage of marketers said they would likely go with a human-only influencer to create a brand image in their metaverse-ready campaigns.

Gartner defines a metaverse as a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. It is persistent, providing enhanced immersive experiences, as well as device independent and accessible through any type of device, from tablets to head-mounted displays.

As consumer interest in the metaverse continues to grow, they are also eager for brands to join the metaverse. In fact, most consumers in the survey (88%) expect to see brands selling and advertising in the metaverse in the next one to two years via direct messages (59%), pop-ups (52%) and influencer marketing (52%). This consumer expectation, coupled with the fact that most marketers polled (90%) believe that the metaverse – if built correctly – can help solve unique business challenges, has captured marketers’ attention with nearly three in four marketers (69%) saying they plan to build metaverse experiences in 2023.

“When it comes to consumer interest and the need for marketers to start planning for and building metaverse-like experiences, the moment has arrived. Our 2022 metaverse survey reports that consumers expect marketers and brands to devote significant budget and time to creating metaverse experiences that live up to their expectations, are inclusive, unique and personalized,” said Paige O’Neill, Sitecore CMO.

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Paige added, “The metaverse presents a new marketing frontier to engage and connect with consumers. Brands and marketers who understand and are starting to embrace and explore this new frontier are already ahead of the game.”

For brands looking to understand how they can drive consumer engagement in virtual environments, it all comes down to exclusive access, diverse representation and a sense of community. Half of consumers (47%) in the survey say getting access to new products and exclusive releases before their real-world launch would encourage them to engage with a brand in the metaverse. But for more than one-third of consumers (38%), a key driver for engagement is representation as consumers admit that seeing metaverse users or avatars who look like them represented in a brand’s experience would encourage their engagement. This sentiment also holds true for non-virtual experiences with Sitecore’s Brand Authenticity report revealing that 81% of consumers want brands’ marketing and communications to be representative of customers.

Metaverse in the era of Hyper-personalization, CX and Community Management

Sitecore’s report on the future of metaverse revealed a strong correlation between various important aspects of IT management and metaverse realities. It found that more than half of consumers (51%) will use the metaverse to escape the reality of the rising cost of living (60%), threat of viruses (46%) and risks associated with climate change (41%).

While it’s true that metaverse empowers brands to create a real-life experience with their audiences, there is still a huge gap between expectations and actual virtual experiences. This is preventing marketers from testing fully-virtualized influencer avatars for their marketing campaigns.  As many consumers are looking forward to being what they consider a better version of themselves in the metaverse, half of consumers (50%) want their metaverse avatar to look like them. And, nearly two in five (38%) would create an avatar that looked like them with a few “improved physical features.” Those who plan to enhance their avatar say they’re uncomfortable sharing their true identity (35%) and don’t want to be stereotyped in the metaverse (25%), making it imperative for brands to create diverse, inclusive experiences that encourage avatars of all walks of the metaverse to engage.

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When it comes to building a community of connections and influencers, metaverse-ready plans become vital for marketing success. Beyond using the metaverse to shop and test a product or service, the concept of community excites consumers. They’re eager to meet new friends (79%), spend time with friends and family (79%), learn about new cultures (87%) and even make a love connection (54%). Nearly two in five consumers (38%) say they’d be more encouraged to participate in a brand’s experience if they were able to join and connect with a community of “like-minded people” who were just as passionate about the products, services and brand as they are. Creating a sense of community, connection and belonging is key for brands who are building in the metaverse.

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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