What Role Will Visual Content Play in the Metaverse
‘Metaverse’ is the latest buzzword in the tech industry. Ever since Facebook renamed itself ‘Meta’, there has been a ripple effect, with everyone now talking about metaverse and its implications.
Just doing a basic Google search will throw thousands of articles written around the topic. While Facebook, Microsoft, Snapchat, Epic Games (creator of Fortnite), and Roblox are at the forefront of this conversation, almost every tech company wants a slice of this pie.
Whatever the hype may be, one thing is for sure – Metaverse is going to revolutionize visual content.
Since visual content is at the core of metaverse, we are going to witness its evolution like never before. That’s why we want to use this article to drive conversation around the role of visual content in the metaverse. We’ll not only discuss the role of visual content but also touch upon the ways brands can look at leveraging visual content in the metaverse.
So, let’s begin. First, let’s understand a few basics.
What exactly is metaverse?
Wikipedia defines metaverse as “A network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection.”
The term ‘Metaverse’ doesn’t apply to a single innovation. It’s instead an extension of several existing technologies.
Metaverse refers to the coming together of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), cryptocurrency, cloud computing, 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and social commerce. It can be referred to as an ever-expanding network of real-time, three-dimensional virtual spaces.
Metaverse can also be thought of as a successor-state to today’s internet. Think of it as the next generation of the internet where the physical and digital worlds come together. Metaverse allows digital representations of people (in form of avatars) to interact with each other. Be it playing a video game, shopping for clothes, going to the office, attending a concert, or having an office meeting, metaverse offers endless possibilities.
Just like the internet is a necessity for all brands today, metaverse may also become a necessity in the future.
The building blocks of the metaverse
Let’s now talk about the core building blocks of the metaverse.
• Augmented and virtual reality
AR/VR is well embedded in consumer shopping habits now. People are now comfortable in using AR to check out a product before purchasing it.
Due to the wide variety of applications possible, AR/VR is quickly becoming essential for merchants. The technology is especially popular with home furnishing, cosmetics, footwear, fashion, etc.
Think of IKEA’s app that allows people to see their products in their homes using AR. Or, wearable companies that allow customers to try their products (like spectacles) without actually visiting the store.
Since it allows customers to make better-informed decisions, they feel confident in supporting a brand. Some studies even show that customers are willing to pay higher for a product if it can be tested through AR/VR.
Ever since Facebook’s rebranding as ‘Meta’, there has been an increased investor interest in the AR/VR space. The global market for AR/VR is now expected to reach a valuation of $162.71 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 46%.
It’s clear to see that AR/VR is helping eCommerce brands leverage the power of metaverse by enabling customers to interact with their products more effectively.
Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are cryptographic assets based on blockchain technology. NFTs have a unique identification code and metadata that distinguish them from each other.
Unlike fungible tokens (aka cryptocurrencies), NFTs cannot be traded or exchanged at equivalency.
With so much hype around NFTs, it was even selected as the word of the year for 2021 by Collins Dictionary.
These digital assets offer a foolproof method for authenticating their ownership, thus making them a key building block in the metaverse.
Brands and consumers alike will be using NFTs in the metaverse to facilitate transactions.
Gaming is the first thing that comes to find when we think of immersive digital environments. The techniques used in video games (or gamification) will have wide implications in the metaverse.
Gamification is the process of adding game mechanics to non-game environments with a goal to engage customers.
Brands will be leveraging gamification to entice customers. It will have a major role in the metaverse for not entertaining customers but also engaging them with the brand.
Brands may look at offering loyalty points or tokens for playing brand-focused games in the metaverse.
Gamification, ultimately, will prove to be key in creating more immersive brand experiences.
How can brands leverage visual content in the metaverse?
Let’s now look at a few ways in which brands can innovate visual content in the metaverse.
1. Virtual showrooms
Virtual showrooms and eCommerce stores will just be like real-life showrooms except they would exist in the metaverse. These would allow customers to take tours of the store, interact with products, and even make purchases.
The customers would be able to visualize 3D products like cars, fashion, jewelry. For reference, you can check out this virtual showroom by Toyota.
2. Virtual product demos
Virtual product demos create an immersive and user-led experience for customers to try your products. It can mimic real-world experience for customers using 360-degree video and 3D rendering.
However, it’s not a new technology and many brands are already using virtual product demos. For example, check out this virtual product demo of a Samsung phone.
But, metaverse will take these virtual product demos to a whole new level. Brands will use virtual product demos to massively upgrade customer experience, allowing them to engage with their products as they please.
Additionally, these virtual product demos will come in handy for brands that struggle with employee training.
3. Advanced 3D data analytics
Metaverse can give a further boost to data analytics that has mostly been two-dimensional until now. It will offer users an interactive 3D interface, hand gesture-based controls, and multi-user support for a shared experience. This means multiple people will collaboratively visualize and analyze data in a virtual 3D space.
This can be revolutionary for data science since it will open doors to a wide range of possibilities. Along with various data filtering and data visualization functions, users will also be able to instantly view the changes made by others.
4. Virtual photoshoots
Virtual photoshoots simply mean completing product photoshoots with CGI-generated virtual backgrounds. So, when you flip through a collection of photographs, you see products placed in 3D rendered backgrounds instead of real-life backgrounds.
For example, check out these photographs on the IKEA website. Most of these are not actual backgrounds but 3D renderings.
In the metaverse, virtual photoshoots would be used by brands to bring flexibility in terms of showcasing their products. It would also make the photoshoots more contextual while saving costs.
5. Gamified commerce
As discussed before, gamification would be a core element of the metaverse. Brands will use gamification techniques to engage customers in the metaverse.
Using interactive games in the metaverse, brands will share coupons or tokens with customers that they can utilize to unlock discounts on products.
For example, check out this interactive game by Balenciaga.
Some other innovative ways brands will utilize visual content in the metaverse include social gaming, virtual brand placements, virtual goods, business intelligence, virtual customizers, configurators, etc.
Benefits of leveraging visual content in the metaverse
Metaverse will offer brands and consumers some key benefits including –
- Social eCommerce
- Real-time customer support
- Improved brand recognition
- Virtual try on functionality
- Better customer relationship and customer support
- Interactive content and novel experiences for customers
- Personalized service
- Real-time analytics
Metaverse will bring together a slew of technologies to unlock a potential we didn’t know was possible. It will create value for customers and brands alike.
While we discussed a few ways it will be used, the complete picture is not yet clear. We can only wait and see what the future holds. But one thing is for sure, metaverse will revolve around visual content. So, it’s wise to start investing in creating visual content for your brand.