As artificial intelligence (AI) continues its evolution — it’s predicted that the AI market will keep growing by at least 120% annually — it’s not surprising the metaverse came to fruition. As it quickly enters the B2B space as a way of enhancing events through immersive and interactive experiences, experts agree that, despite some growing pains, the metaverse is well on its way to becoming a permanent fixture.
Ashley Crowder, CEO and Co-founder of 3D and augmented reality E-commerce platform VNTANA, drew a line to the early days of the internet: As organizations in the late 90s and early aughts created websites for the first time, “they were terrible, but we didn’t know that” — so while the metaverse and 3D arena will change a lot, it will become a force in the industry.
“The metaverse is here to stay,” explained Crowder. “Just think about how 10 years ago, video became an option for standing out on the web. Now, it’s almost a business imperative to have videos incorporated into your marketing strategies. Same thing with mobile: If your website doesn’t work on mobile devices, you’re done for. Understanding what a ‘good’ virtual experience looks like is where we’ll see the ebbs and flows.”
With the global metaverse market predicted to attain $678.8 billion by 2030, it’s imperative that marketers work to fold the medium into their big-picture event strategies even though the metaverse still holds some unknowns.
“The metaverse is the next evolution of digital platforms — it’s the successor to the mobile internet,” explained a Meta spokesperson in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “Even though businesses in the metaverse still have a long way to go, the mobile internet has shown that when we level the playing field, we see increased economic opportunity for everyone. The last 10 years have enabled a new way to personalize experiences and meet people's growing expectations for how they want to engage with businesses, and the metaverse will only enhance this trend.”
Understanding The Metaverse
So, how exactly is the metaverse applicable to B2B? While it seems like a virtual world for escapists (admittedly, I initially equated it to Dwight Schrute’s second life), it’s nowhere near as intimidating or disconnected from reality as it seems.
While that’s not to say the metaverse isn’t used for gaming or virtual worlds (see: Fortnite and Decentraland), B2B marketers can take notes from the gaming space and leverage the space for hosting events and creating more immersive experiences, whether it’s through a digital store front at a trade show or talking “face to face” with a customer on the other side of the world.
“The metaverse is made up of virtual spaces, including immersive 3D experiences, that are all interconnected so you can easily move between them and engage with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you,” explained Meta’s spokesperson. “Our philosophy has always been that technology is a tool for fostering connection. As tech improves, so do the possibilities of connecting with people and things you care about in more compelling and more immersive ways. It’s not about replacing in-person experiences; it’s about making what we do online better and more meaningful.”
Bringing The Metaverse To Event Marketing
For B2B technology, specifically, the metaverse holds the highest potential for virtual events. While the B2C side has the advantage of allowing shoppers to virtually try on clothing or place furniture in their homes, B2B typically has less tangible elements, so marketers can rely on it to bridge communication gaps.
“One of the most promising features of the metaverse is its ability to enhance the feeling of being close to one another, regardless of physical distance,” explained Meta’s spokesperson. “That foundation unlocks countless opportunities for people and communities when it comes to virtual events — from live concerts hosted in Horizon and virtual branded workshops and trade shows to branded live events bringing together brands and creators alike.”
Events in the metaverse are designed to deliver human-to-human connections that transcend geographical and financial barriers, which is especially important as 61% of marketers plan to increase their investment in digital events.
“We believe that the possibilities of live events expands far beyond flashy functions — being able to offer immersive and engaging experiences means more people will be able to choose to study in, train in and experience places that felt off-limits because of where they live or what they can afford,” said the Meta spokesperson.
Designing The Digital Experiences
VNTANA’s Crowder cited her experience attending a VR event, and explained that, when orchestrated correctly, events hosted in the metaverse emulate the feeling of walking around at a conference and engaging with peers. She explained that she experienced two types of virtual events: Those in immersive platforms and their web-based counterparts.
"There are typically platforms like Rec Room and VRChat that are open and anybody can hold an event there,” she explained. “But there's also a web-based version where you click a link and it's more spatial, interactive 3D objects. It’s still just you on your laptop, but you can walk around and it's a little more engaging and interactive. So there's kind of a spectrum of what's possible.”
As marketers strive to engage remote attendees and connect with distant prospects in personalized ways, it’s clear event marketing in the metaverse holds seemingly endless opportunities. And, given the relative infancy of the medium, it’s poised to expand its reach and become all-encompassing as people become more comfortable interacting in the metaverse.
“For those who are hesitant about embracing the metaverse, we’d recommend to stay focused on the smart strategies you’re using today to reach customers and grow — this will help prepare you for the metaverse of tomorrow,” explained Meta’s spokesperson. “While the medium might change over time, your marketing objectives often stay the same. You must remain committed to achieving your objectives by reaching the right people and engaging with your customers — today and in the future.”