Over the last decade, marketers have spent a lot of time talking about through-the-line.
First, that meant from offline to online, and the industry created a dozen different types of agencies to fill this need. We talked about above-the-line and below-the-line, and the industry created a dozen agencies to fill that need.
But in both instances, the industry realized that dozens of specialty agencies are problematic for integrated thinking and ineffective for scaled execution — so it consolidated.
We are now standing at the edge of another through-the-line moment: the metaverse.
I do believe that brands need to think about the metaverse and how it fits into their product development, customer service and marketing and communications. But we must think about the opportunity through an integrated lens — not a specialty one.
The metaverse is different from a brand's owned digital experiences and separate from media and earned activation. It represents a hybrid — experiences that are not owned (so no need for lots of IT work), but that are customized and go beyond what we see on most media platforms. It looks and feels like your store, restaurant or office. It 'feels' physical.
So how should brands approach the metaverse?
We recommend beginning with the audience: With this <audience>, I want to move them to do <more, less, different> of <this objective> in the metaverse. That exercise can help lay out the experiences to create and the goals to be achieved.
First, look at the audiences you have or want, and ask: Are they currently in the metaverse, or are they going to be there? (This question is more nuanced, as you need to decide which metaverse experience to build within.)
Next, ask: What do we want to accomplish with the audience — customer acquisition? Deepening existing relationships? Rewarding loyalty? Maybe you are engaging with an audience that will not or cannot be customers for a few years, but you are beginning to cultivate a brand connection.
With the audience and the objective, ask: Is this something that can be executed in the metaverse?
If yes, finally, and most importantly — be ready for the investment. Be prepared to build an experience that does not suck. Make it excellent and manage it like any other customer-facing product. Build a scope log, rapidly roll out new features and always think about how to move your metaverse community to your physical and digital channels. It is an integrated approach, not a stand-alone one.
When answering questions one and two, be creative.
For a financial advisory, for instance, providing clients investment advice would not make sense in the metaverse. But offering education around cryptocurrency and how to think about it within your portfolio might make sense. This experience could drive a prospect funnel.
You might be a casino, and metaverse real money gaming might be out of reach now. But you might create an experience for loyalty program members that includes a value-added social experience from home. This experience could expand your loyalty program and deepen brand connection.
There are unique experiences to be created by thinking integrated.
But not “Metaverse Agency of Records”… Please.
Brad Simms is president and CEO at Gale.