To say that the term “metaverse” has quickly entered the lexicon of the marketing community in record time is an understatement. In fact, when Mark Zuckerberg announced on October 28, 2021 that Facebook was rebranding itself to Meta and fully committing to the metaverse as a business priority, Google searches for the term “metaverse” up more than 2,000% from the previous week.¹
All of this excitement over the burgeoning possibilities the metaverse offers brands was quickly brought back to reality when discussions pivoted to “But what can we actually do today?” »
The most practical barriers to entering the metaverse are the technological requirements for fully immersing your audience in virtual experiences. Artificial Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) can be expensive and have relatively low market penetration that doesn’t seem to be improving any time soon.
But what if the only thing people needed to engage with brands and each other in the metaverse were near-ubiquitous technologies like headphones or smart speakers (Alexa, Google Home, etc.) .)? The most recent Infinite Dial study estimates that 94 million households have a smart speaker at home and that number is growing year on year.² The future of the audio-only metaverse is bright and far more immediate.
That’s why we believe that one of the best opportunities for brands to enter the metaverse may not be through non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or the purchase of expensive VR/AR gear, but rather via all the potential that audio in the metaverse currently holds.
At Ad Results Media, we see the following predictions coming to fruition over the next 6-18 months.
1. The sound identity becomes the new visual identity. One of the critical aspects of communicating to consumers what your brand stands for and remembering them has always been the careful development of a visual brand, including colors, fonts, photography, etc. While visuals are just as important in the Metaverse, there is also an opportunity to develop your audio identity or sound branding.
We all know, and most of us can mimic, the voice of Alexa or Google Maps. But what if the voices of other brands (the ones we don’t rely on for utility services on our smart devices) were just as memorable and recognizable? We anticipate brands will spend time expanding their brand guidelines to include an audio identity, with preferred voice, sounds, haptics and music.
2. Brands will need to become great conversationalists. Everyone loves a chatbot, right? Bad. They are almost universally looked down upon by customers looking for real help or valuable, personalized information. We anticipate that chatbots will be all but eliminated by the superior immersive experiences of the Metaverse.
Customer service representative avatars will provide sales and product support to their customer avatars. This will require brands to really invest in their conversational skills so that their real customers can engage with them in meaningful dialogue through voice commands only. This effort could include adding sound designers to your creative teams, significantly increasing your investment in artificial intelligence, and constantly iterating and improving your algorithm.
3. Podcasts get a virtual live audience. It’s no secret that many of the best podcasts started in someone’s basement (and in fact, some are still around). And for obvious security and logistical reasons, podcast hosts don’t invite live audiences to witness the taping of their shows in their basements or even studios. Now imagine avid podcast fans being able to send in their avatars – safely and with all the social distancing they want – to enjoy the live taping of the show? We anticipate that to happen.
And we are here for that! This will expand the podcast advertising opportunities available to brands and also help them identify the most engaged audience for each individual podcast. This could lead to intimate seeding of products, real or virtual, which in turn will build brand loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.
4. Spatial audio will be integrated with traditional audio ads. Spatial audio, or 3D audio, is one of the elements of Metaverse that makes it truly immersive. Instead of feeling like you’re watching a movie as an observer, spatial audio makes you feel like you’re there. The sound design replicates what and how the human ear experiences sound in the real world, going far beyond the limits of surround sound.
The use of spatial audio will be ubiquitous in the Metaverse, and consumer expectations will begin to change based on their increased exposure to a more sophisticated and realistic sound experience. We predict this will be a trend that begins in the metaverse but then transcends into other aspects of our lives. Brands would be wise to create more immersive audio ads across platforms to help engage audiences and keep them actively listening.
As pioneers in the audio industry, from radio to podcasts and emerging audio platforms, we pride ourselves on spotting trends that we believe will impact our customers, partners and audiences. For more information on these predictions or how you can take advantage of them, please contact the Ad Results Media team. _______________________________
¹ google trends
² Infinity Dial 2021