In fall of 2021, Facebook revealed its new name as Meta, which kicked off a rebrand of the company along with its commitment and vision to bring the “metaverse” to life over the next several years.
The metaverse is the next generation of the internet where Augmented and Virtual Reality are key components of the ecosystem and consumer experience. To better equip advertisers and businesses for this new generation, Meta kicked off a three-part webinar series earlier this year to help partners better prepare for this shift while also exploring what brands can begin doing today.
Part 1: The Metaverse: Accelerating Businesses’ Leap into the Future
In Part 1 of the series, Meta explains the marketing opportunities that the metaverse will offer today and in the future. Stacy Malone (Director of NA Marketing) and Caitlin Lacy (Head of AR Business Marketing) review what this new frontier means for advertisers and business while providing an overview of solutions that will help prepare for the shifts from online to offline and beyond.
The first step to get brands ready for the metaverse is to begin pivoting how we think about the consumer journey overall. Meta highlights the need to shift focus from the “real world” to a more virtual experience. Right now, consumers don’t see a difference between online and offline channels–it is just “shopping.” The goal as a business should be to provide the best overall experience, whether that is in-store, online, or virtually. Meta points out that we have officially entered an era of hybrid shopping where we advance beyond the concept of brick and mortar stores.
In this hybrid shopping era, the lines are blurred between online and offline, creating a need for a more interconnected consumer experience. Solutions that offer efficient ways for consumers to pay and checkout, including facial recognition or mobile based digital wallets, make for more customizable experiences. According to a Facebook commissioned study by HarrisX called the “Transformation of the In-Store Experience,” 1 in 4 shoppers surveyed already use automatic checkout with facial recognition, while 68 percent of shoppers said mobile-based payment methods within stores would make them more likely to return.
When thinking about how to support this hybrid shopping approach, technology will play a key role. Consumer behavior is already driving this shift to lean into technology, and brands will need to be wherever consumers want to shop and adapt quickly so they are not left behind. The easiest way for brands and advertisers to lean into this notion of a customizable consumer journey with technology is through Augmented Reality (AR).
Meta’s approach to support this next generation of technology and connection will be to work with leaders in the space to help accelerate the tools needed to bring the metaverse to life through four innovation principles:
- Never surprise people: Provide transparency on how products would use data and clearly lay out what data is being collected from users.
- Provide controls: Build things in a way that puts users in control of their individual experience.
- Consider everyone: Develop products that are inclusive for a diverse community.
- Always put people first.
The defining attributes of the metaverse, from Meta’s POV, are to focus on providing users with the feeling that they are there, whether through Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR). Allowing for persistence gives users the ability to have continuity between experiences. And lastly, provide interoperability to allow for varying levels of entry points across devices in consumer and businesses moments of need. Adopting these core principles will allow brands to act faster when new tech becomes available.
Part 2: Augmented Reality: Beyond the Face Filter
In Part 2, Meta dives deeper into Augmented Reality. They outline how AR is the first step towards the metaverse bridging the gap between online and offline connections. In this session, Meta’s Gabe Reilly (AR creative Product Lead, Creative Shop) explains how brands can go beyond the face filter and begin to discover and explore all AR has to offer through Meta’s current and future solutions.
To begin, Meta grounds us in the difference between AR and VR technology:
- Augmented Reality (AR): when information is overlaid on top of the physical world usually through a phone or a tablet
- Offers two different experiences: “People Effects” to enhance a person’s face or body or “World Effects” which transform the world around you
- Virtual Reality (VR): a fully immersive experience provided by a headset, surrounding your senses in a virtual universe
Through both technologies, Meta would like to find ways to enhance meaningful connections and make us feel that we are present no matter the circumstances. AR is the most assessable entry point given that we can access and utilize it through a mobile device.
For brands to begin engaging with AR, Meta encourages focusing on three main principles: people, purpose, and craft. You first need to focus on the end users to build something of value that people want to engage with. It is also recommended to always think of the overall purpose of the experience and how it ties back to your brand’s marketing objectives. Meta discusses ways brands have been able to tie AR into each stage of the marketing funnel to drive successful outcomes. Lastly, Meta explains the importance of building an effective experience that leverages the best creative practices for AR. The main callouts include building for mobile, being aware of load time, and making sure the experience is intuitive and simple for anyone to use.
While brands begin to think of ways AR can enhance their consumer experience, Meta is also placing bets on three main areas when it comes to AR technology. The first area is World AR solutions, which enhances objects and environments. The second is Social AR, which is person-to-person connection through video calls. Finally, we have Commerce, which will change our overall shopping experience over time. Meta feels these are the three big areas where they can help the metaverse come to life now and in the future.
Part 3: Augmented Reality Creators: Builders of the Future
In the last installment of the series, Meta explains their commitment to invest over the next three years to build an ecosystem to support learning in the metaverse—including developing skills for the next generation of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality creators.
Many brands today already work with influencers, but Meta is bringing to light how this role will also need to evolve to thrive within our new reality. Their goal will be to focus on a new type of creator called a “Technical Creator” to help support the development of more immersive formats using advanced skills to develop AR content. The role of a traditional creator or influencer will remain important, but this new role will help brands evolve further.
Dan Moller (Creative Strategist, Creative Shop EMEA) discusses the Technical Creator landscape where Meta is committing to provide “Meta Immersive” learning for partners and creators through a $150 million investment. This program will kick off AR/VR ecosystem learning and career development over the next three years to create more immersive experiences for brands so they can succeed.
To date, Meta has over 600K technical creators based in 190 countries and have created over 80 billion effects per month across all Meta technologies. The best way for brands to access these technical creators today is within Meta Business Partner resources to find a creator best suited for their brand’s needs.
Takeaways For Your Brand
Experimenting with AR and VR opportunities will be the first step for brands to provide the immersive shopping experiences consumers are craving. While Meta works to build a solid foundation of new technology through communities, creators, commerce, and computing platforms, their first priority will be to get this ecosystem right for people and then create an ecosystem for partners.
Incorporating AR and VR into current media plans may feel daunting, but these experiences can be used to enhance trusted tactics throughout each stage of the funnel. As marketers, our job is to determine which types of tactics resonate best with our audience to drive business results. Therefore, testing will be the key factor to finding out what works best for your brand. We as consumers also need to think about how we would like to see things evolve, as our needs will dictate how new solutions come to life. Right now, Meta offers a certification for AR, which will be a great resource for marketers moving forward to ensure they have the ability to translate an idea to an AR experience from creation to publishing to management. This is a new frontier for us all, but it should be an exciting time to see how things evolve within the metaverse, taking our everyday lives to a new level.
- “Transformation of the In-Store Experience” Study by HarrisX (FB commissioned online survey) – 43,863 retail shoppers (18+) AU, BR, CA, FR, DE, IN, MX, KR, TH, UK, US) Aug – Sept 2021
- Source Facebook IF, “AR/VR: New Dimensions of Connection,” June 2021; Meta data October 2021 (of those surveyed)