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While not new, the "metaverse" recently got a big boost from Facebook, now known as Meta, which is pouring $10 billion into its ambitions there. Other big tech companies including Apple, Google, and Microsoft are working on their versions of the concept.
The vague term refers to a variety of shared spaces and assets that people can access via the internet, sometimes using virtual reality and augmented reality devices, and interact with each other and buy virtual goods.
But Facebook itself says the payoff won't be immediate, and top executives have widely differing expectations of what the metaverse means to them.
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As hype builds around the idea, advertisers and their agencies are racing to benefit from the metaverse, whether that means people exploring virtual worlds, engaging in gaming, or buying NFTs using crypto.
Brands have launched several initiatives in 2021 to stake their claim in the metaverse, minting NFTs — non-fungible tokens — exploring smart contracts, and building metaverse and Web3 experiences.
But with new opportunities also come new challenges, such as high unpredictability, the lack of standardization, and the risk of being inauthentic.
Brands may have to rethink their approach to digital marketing if they are to succeed in the newest version of the web. They're getting bombarded with proposals and need to figure out which tech and ad partners to work with, which consumers to prioritize.
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Advertising companies are increasingly creating gaming and entertainment divisions as a gateway to the metaverse.
They include Vayner Media, which is hiring for metaverse roles for its new VaynerNFT division; and S4 Capital's digital creative and production agency Media.Monks, which is leaning heavily into the metaverse concept.
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Look for interest in the metaverse to drive deal-making this year, too. Metaverse buzz has investors looking at companies that help marketers master virtual reality. Crypto companies could buy ad agencies to build awareness for themselves, now that Facebook and other platforms have relaxed limits on crypto advertising.
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