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Industry Contributor 25 Jul 2022 - 5 min read

How not to be a metaverse noob – a marketers' guide to getting started, part two

By Ben Cooper - Founder, Tricky Jigsaw & Group Innovation Director, M&C Saatchi

To a “noob,” Web 3.0 might look like an 800-pound bored ape that nobody can touch for fear of losing a financial arm or leg. But it’s really not that dangerous. Reading between the hyped headlines, says Tricky Jigsaw founder Ben Cooper, agencies and their clients can perform simple metaverse market testing. UI design does not need to be sophisticated to deliver a good experience. Nor do the creators need to be sophisticated (tech skills wise) to deliver that good experience.

The metaverse feels a bit like an exclusive bar that nobody can get an invitation to.

The cover charge is $1 billion in new Web 3.0 infrastructure and hardware. Not-to-mention a dress code whereby if you don’t front with a $500K NFT of your space-yacht just arriving from the planet of the bored apes, seriously don’t bother. That rope across the doorway is staying closed.

Metaversaphorically speaking.

Its apparent perceived inaccessibility makes the metaverse simultaneously repugnant and fascinating. The hype is as incessant as Sydney’s rain, so clients are naturally becoming curious about what it all means. Should they get involved, and if so, how?

It’s all very confusing, particularly when the digital news cycle hardly has time to sensationalise a story, let alone describe any utility to readers (present publisher excepted, of course). One example is the cost of buying metaverse real estate and creating a presence in one of its many worlds. Reports make it out to be eye-bleedingly expensive. And unlike a tangible investment in bricks and mortar, trying to decide which virtual property to buy appears more like investing pixels-on-a-prayer.

Remember how Web 1.0 was an “information superhighway” consisting simply of static text and flat images?

Well, Web 3.0 is the information superhighway rendered in virtual reality with real time language translation and where you can turn up as an auto-airbrushed VR version of yourself and teleport between platforms at will. Or it will be. One day. We haven’t missed the blockchain bus. We’re only just driving up the on-ramp with a loooooong road ahead.

Again, metaversaphorically speaking.

The read-time translation of that simply means an entry-level opportunity for marketers to get involved in Web 3.0’s burgeoning tech and grow in lockstep with the metaverse.

The company formerly known as Facebook (now Meta obvs), and its significant competitive others, are spending the necessary billions to build metaverse platforms for our virtual pleasure. Very kind of them, don’t you think?

Meta’s metaverse (deep sigh), Horizon Worlds, is entirely VR and has launched publicly in the US and Canada. Australia can’t be too far behind. To access users need an exclusive $479 VR headset which adds to the hoops-la. However, some clever brand experiences are already being created.

The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has launched a Fender “Stratoverse” with a Stratocaster-shaped island for music fans who want to get their virtual rock on. Still in Horizon Worlds, the BMW Group has launched a “MINIverse” racing game for MINI fans and pretty much anyone else who literally want to digitally drive small British cars over gravity-defying jumps and through flaming hoops.

Awesome. If you’ve got a large digital marketing budget and can find VR developers underneath those piles of hens teeth that are cluttering up the place so much these days.

Start simple

Reading between the hyped headlines, agencies and their clients can perform simple metaverse market testing. Starting now. The complicated bit is our creative palette is expanding to such an extent that the limits of imagining can really be stretched. So, where do we start?

As I write, the answer is lying asleep at my feet in front of my office heater.

First though, perhaps a pop-culture example? Some of us might be old enough to remember the wireframe computer graphics from the 80s. In Top Gun (1986), Maverick and his fellow cadets reviewed their missions watching wireframe replays. In Top Gun (2022), Maverick instructed his cadets with wireframe graphics overlaying the cockpits as they flew. Today, real world pilots use this same technology to practice dogfighting against AI enemies.

UI design does not need to be sophisticated to deliver a good experience. Nor do the creators need to be sophisticated (tech skills wise) to deliver that good experience.

My family has a dog (the one in front of the heater), not yet 12-months old, who arrived via a combination of daughterly-pestering and brilliant technology available via the touch of a button in Google Search. Many of our daughters and sons have toy pets they can play imaginary games with, but it absolutely amazed me when my daughter created an augmented reality (AR) labrador on my iPhone and began walking it around the house.

Using the keyword “labrador” and clicking “View in 3D” on one of the search results, she used my iPhone camera to map our floorspace on which the AR tech rendered a cartoony canine. The pixellated pooch then smilingly followed her through our home while she patted it along the way, she aptly called it ‘ARie’.

Absolutely stunning really. Accessible. Simple.

Self-build

You might have noticed via the Top Gun and labARdor (couldn’t resist) examples, that we’re back in the familiar Web 2.0 realm, just with a 3D overlay. What’s cool is that we can create those experiences ourselves. Right now.

Today, Statista estimates there are 1.1 billion mobile AR-enabled devices worldwide. And Meta, at its Connect conference late last year, shared that 700 million people now use Meta’s AR effects (their term for lenses, filters) monthly across Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. Any casual scroll of Reels and you’ll see them at work. Meta also offers Spark AR, a kit to get started in AR. Apple (ARKit) and Google (ARCore) provide similar offerings. And using AR kits as a starting point, marketers can immediately create 3D experiences for consumption on handheld devices. Learning along the way.

To a “noob,” Web 3.0 might look like an 800-pound bored ape that nobody can touch for fear of losing a financial arm or leg. But it’s really not that dangerous. Metaversaphorically speaking. The platforms, they are a changin’ but not so quickly that we can’t keep up. Or even get ahead. Seriously, there’s really no excuse not to start experimenting now – in readiness for whatever is next… whenever it is next. So as the metaverse becomes ever more sophisticated, so will we.

Read part one, 'Meet my meta half', here.

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Ben Cooper

Founder, Tricky Jigsaw & Group Innovation Director, M&C Saatchi

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