Event and Marketing Professionals | 7 minutes
Everything you need to know about immersive virtual events and the metaverse
The metaverse is a hot topic in the tech world, promising to transform the way we connect and shape our online lives. Now, forward-thinking businesses can get a slice of the action by creating custom virtual events as an entry point to the metaverse experience. To help you better understand the benefits of being an early adopter of metaverse events, we’re breaking down everything you need to know and how to get started.
The new internet? A virtual simulation? A convergence of the virtual and physical world? Everybody seems to be talking about the metaverse. But what exactly is it and how can it be used to reach new clients and customers?
The word ‘metaverse’ was first coined in a 1992 science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson and refers to an online, digital arena that is widely considered to be the next iteration of the internet. It’s not just an extension of the current way we use the web, it’s a whole new virtual landscape.
Essentially, the metaverse is a virtual world where individuals adopt a unique avatar that enables them to interact in real time with the digital environment, including other users, communities, shops, events, and meetings. In this new online universe, users experience a totally immersive world in which anything is possible and almost everything we do in the physical world can be translated into the metaverse. From shopping and socializing to working and creating art.
In the metaverse, companies can design their own environments that allow visitors to go beyond the simple act of searching for a product on their website. The metaverse empowers visitors to step into a company’s space and interact with it in a similar way to visiting a physical store—but with limitless possibilities for engagement and interactivity.
This takes digital engagement in the metaverse from passive consumption to active creation. In this new arena, digital consumers and visitors will be able to intuitively engage with companies’ bespoke metaverse spaces in a way that opens up opportunities for both companies and consumers.
The metaverse and business: a new market opportunity
The metaverse represents a market opportunity on a stratospheric rise that is predicted to reach nearly $800 billion by 2024. As the market grows, the technology underpinning the metaverse is becoming more sophisticated. It has evolved to represent digital spaces in immersive 2.5D and 3D graphics comparable to the real world, but with the ability to defy the laws of physics and include fantastical elements.
The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of immersive tech and the metaverse for both companies and consumers. People are placing a higher value on their digital selves. So much so that their in-person lives are merging with their digital lives. This has been the case for a while for online games in which a gamer’s avatar represents an extension of themselves and can be customized with in-game purchases of digital clothes and items. But it’s now becoming part of other areas of people’s online lives. In this way, the metaverse could be seen as a natural progression of the convergence of physical and digital lives.
In terms of features, gamification – adding interactive gaming elements to online spaces – is a key pillar of the metaverse. It has become an increasingly popular element in the way people network, socialize, study and do business. In fact, the metaverse represents a whole new interactive digital economy, one that is global, immersive, and designed for visitors and customers to step into and be a part of. The engine that drives this digital economy is the 3D-rendered virtual spaces that make up and provide an entry point into the metaverse itself.
The benefits of 3D-rendered virtual communication spaces
3D-rendered virtual communication spaces are the first step into the metaverse. The metaverse is the new marketplace and companies’ virtual spaces are the new shop within this marketplace, opening up new marketing and sales channels. Using their phones or computers, visitors can interact with different elements of the 3D-rendered space, including articles, videos, product images, or games. This takes online business interactions to the next level, creating discovery-driven experiences rather than just transactions.
What’s more, virtual spaces are a more intuitive way to digitally shop, generate business, and host client meetings. They are easily accessible with a web link, don’t require an app download, and can sometimes be accessed by wearing a Virtual Reality (VR) headset for full immersion.
To fully reap the benefits of the metaverse, companies need to establish a strong presence within it. Not having a virtual space will be like not having a website. The metaverse will be the virtual 3D embodiment of a company, and how consumers of all generations experience the identity of companies, brands, and products online.
But what exactly are the benefits of creating a virtual environment for companies?
Firstly, 3D-rendered formats are much better suited to represent tangible products online. It gives customers a chance to view a product ‘in action’ visualized in a 3D space that they are grounded in, rather than as a flat image on a screen. Future-proofing sales this way is a significant edge on competitors as it’s expected that future generations will use metaverse technology as their default communications platform. So, it’s best to make an early mark in the industry.
Aside from sales opportunities, virtual spaces and event environments are immensely valuable for providing analytical data and insights into the user’s behaviour online. These virtual spaces can generate a huge amount of insight and data that will help all kinds of organisations with a virtual presence to understand and serve their communities better.
Virtual worlds offer users, visitors and participants an immersive highly visual and sensory experience, which studies show has positive impacts on memory. Inviting clients into the metaverse is a way to literally make your brand more memorable.
One significant benefit that is often overlooked is the sheer accessibility of the metaverse through 3D-rendered virtual communication spaces. Almost anyone - regardless of location, ability or economic circumstance - can attend a virtual event without any physical or geographical limitations. Teams that work globally can be in the same room, music lovers can attend a digital concert in the metaverse without having to travel and product launches can be held in a conference space that is uniquely designed and resides in an easy to access digital location. This has the potential to make doing business in the metaverse more inclusive, more diverse and able to reach a broader audience with relative ease.
Boundless opportunity for metaverse businesses
All the evidence and digital forecasts point to the metaverse becoming a transformative technology. A lot of technologies create the foundation of this new digital landscape, which makes it impossible not to wonder what new possibilities businesses can explore in the new virtual space.
Many tech companies are already claiming that they are metaverse companies, while some - most notably Facebook parent company Meta - are developing metaverse platforms for enhancing the virtual and physical realities of their current users.
There are a number of activities already emerging as use cases within the metaverse that support new business opportunities. Metaverse malls, for example, offer shopping and retail stores with immersive e-commerce, buying accessories and outfits for digital avatars.
NFTs and digital art, assets and collectibles are already positioned as a strong market in the metaverse, with some projects already selling digital real estate and development of virtual homes.
While other services underpinned by interaction and participation rather than sales transactions are also gaining popularity. These include virtual classrooms, participation in social experiences, customer services, employee onboarding, board meetings and many other business communications. It’s these interaction-based immersive metaverse experiences that MEETYOO excels in providing to transform the way businesses run events and day to day activity.
Introducing the MEETYOOVERSE for business to business immersive environments
Many of the previously mentioned use cases of the metaverse are primarily directed at consumer interactions, and the branding opportunities they can build. But business to business opportunities are also endless and will play a key role in the future of work. Tech savant and Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, has voiced support for the transition of virtual meetings from two-dimensional camera image grids to three-dimensional spaces with virtual avatars and Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg has hailed the metaverse as the new frontier of global and remote business.
Despite this, it’s likely that, in a business to business context, the metaverse might not find its place so quickly. One of the reasons is accessibility. In offices around the world, there are limitations like business networks, VPNs or the lack of VR / AR gear, that will hinder accessibility. Besides that, the metaverse is slow moving when it comes to knowledge transfer and avatar-based environments could require users to “walk” for minutes and hours before finding their spot in virtual venues.
In addition, although shifting to cloud services can have potential environmental benefits, the energy consumption of data centers is still set to swell significantly. Today, IT-related services - including cloud services - account for around 2% of global carbon emission, roughly equal to the aviation sector. In 2020, Amazon emitted around 60 million metric tons of CO2, a 15% increase from 2019 mainly due to the increased usage of digital services in the pandemic.
This could be problematic, clashing with the goal of zero emissions by the year 2030. This data-driven energy usage phenomenon needs to be tackled, if the metaverse is to become the new technology and medium of the digital and virtual generations whilst being sustainable.
One compromise is 2.5D immersive environments, that recreate physical environments, and allow navigation through point-to-click functionality. This environment still creates emotive, sensory and immersive experiences, but is completely owned by a business that can create the space for the individual purpose of the event or use case - rather than a centralised company that requires vast cloud storage services.
Businesses that want to use immersive virtual events for knowledge sharing, employee interaction and lead generation can leverage the benefits and features of 2.5D immersive events. For example, virtual trade shows offer an unforgettable experience, while facilitating global connections of experts on a digital conference space.
In this way, MEETYOO can provide businesses with their first steps into the MEETYOOVERSE with tailored immersive experiences. From virtual award ceremonies, conferences and board meetings, to seminars, product launches and gamified team building participation-driven spaces, there are countless ways to explore and work together that are already being used by future-thinking companies.
While the full rollout of the metaverse’s possibilities may yet be some way off, companies can experience custom immersive events today, and prepare for the future of total digital immersion, with the MEETYOOVERSE.