Greater consumer interest in virtual worlds will have a very real impact on brands, businesses and future commercial models, but marketers need a compass to navigate those new platforms. This panel of experts offered some advice on what today’s gaming environments can teach brands about how to engage in the metaverse and web3 so they can reach the consumers of tomorrow.
“There's a lot to be learned by first engaging with gaming,” said Gabrielle Heyman, head of global brand partnerships, Zynga. “Gaming is much more evolved as a platform and many brands really haven't taken advantage of that yet.”
Josh Campo, CEO, Razorfish believes both gaming and metaverse have a lot to teach each other. “Experience from a gaming perspective is vast and immersive and games give us more to learn when we start to think about how to engage with the metaverse,” he said. “But you can also look at the metaverse as a testing ground for how you're thinking about games since the metaverse is niche enough that you can do testing on what a gaming experience should be.”
In a marketplace crowded with messaging, gaming and virtual worlds offer brands an opportunity to engage more deeply and continuously with their audience. “Gamifying brands is an excellent way to communicate the brand story. If you can experience it inside the metaverse or inside of a game, it becomes a two-way conversation between the brand and consumer,” said Heyman. “We have to get out of this idea that we’ve got to tell them something. It's the interaction that's really important,” added Campo.
Damian Ferrar, SVP innovation director + global head of Jack X, Jack Morton said connecting with audiences through gaming is a big shift for a lot of businesses and brands, but it offers a way to move “from viewing brands in two dimensions to exploring brands in three dimensions. It’s a shift from just showing up somewhere to actually providing an experience.”
Brands that are most successful creating an experience have “a core mission that everybody is clear on,” said Ferrar. Games should be easy to learn but challenging enough to master that people continue to return. He believes that barriers to entry for early metaverse experiences are currently too high. “You've got to download stuff and create avatars,” he said. “Sometimes it's too much hard work for the payoff. We’re focusing on keeping barriers to entry low and keeping consumers engaged with a brand over a longer period of time. It’s a more entertainment layered approach.”
There’s also the question on how assets obtained in one world can migrate with the consumer to another. “Interoperability is critical,” said Campo. “When you have different metaverse worlds, consumers will expect to be able to bring assets acquired in one world to other worlds. To get to that interoperability, we need standards if the decentralized Web3 metaverse is going to thrive.”
“The idea that you need a single digital identity to move from one space to another is a big challenge,” said Ferrar. One of the biggest barriers is skepticism in the industry around this being a bit of a bubble.”
As clans and communities have evolved significantly on gaming platforms, having a purpose for how you engage with those communities is critical. “Gaming has evolved into the new social channel where younger generations are going to interact with each other. When you're playing a game, whether it's player versus player or a co-op, you have a shared purpose,” said Campo.”
To really reach a gaming audience, brands need to understand them. “You have to play to understand what's going on,” said Heyman. Campo noted that old ways of communicating, or messaging are not appropriate for this new medium. “We have to be careful to not let our clients fall into that trap and make sure they are seizing this opportunity to fully immerse the consumer and engage with them.” If they miss that opportunity, they risk alienating a consumer base “that may not give you too many second chances,” he said.
“It’s important to talk about the brand KPIs and what they're expecting. Look at the opt-in rate to participating, then the opt-in rate for completion to see if what you're doing is really resonating,” said Heyman. Ferrar suggested the need for a “new set of metrics to measure what's working in the metaverse and how people are interacting with your brands.”
When creating activations, brands need to engage with the existing base of creators and the community as it exists. “This notion of shared ownership runs pretty deep into the Web3 community,” said Campo. “We’re seeing porting for metaverse and gaming in general into influencers and content creators. There's a lot of relationship between those two,” said Heyman. Zynga’s Rollick studio, which makes hyper casual games, has a very deep symbiotic relationship with TikTok. “You see a lot of content creators taking content from their metaverse, from their Roblox and putting it on TikTok,” she said.
Panelists shared some examples of how they have used gaming principles in client activations. Razorfish worked with Samsung to debut the Samsung 837X in Decentraland, a blockchain-powered 3-D virtual world browser-based platform. “As we started to understand the consumers better, we realized the purpose element was missing. Borrowing from gaming, we did some questing and created challenges with great rewards, some with scarcity around them. That really amped up the level of engagement,” said Campo. Razorfish also built out Patrón’s metaverse experience using gamification with NFTs given for completed quests. A scarcity element helped draw consumers.
As a company dedicated to gamifying brands, Zenga has seen the success of video ads in gaming platforms. “Video works in games maybe more than in the metaverse but I think that will evolve because gaming is Gen Z's preferred way of experiencing entertainment,” said Heyman.
“We're seeing lots of great experiments, we've seen a lot of a lot of success and a lot of failure,” said Ferrar. He encourages clients to sense check “to determine if this is the kind of thing that is the right for their brand” then experiment to find “what bit of the metaverse they want to be present in because there's a big space.”
Learn more about Jack Morton here.
Learn more about Razorfish here.