Mark Zuckerberg's vision is not the only metaverse out there. But with Facebook's funds and tech savviness, his version could soon be the one that matters most. Image Credit: Muhammed Nahas/Gulf News

Dubai: How soon will brands in the UAE take to the ‘meta’?

Mark Zuckerberg’s version of an alternate/virtual universe aims to reconnect the millennials and Gen Z with a Facebook-related platform other than Instagram. This virtual world – populated by avatars of what exists in the real – is still a work in progress, but brands already are keeping close tabs. And if they find their consumers are already there, it’s just a matter of time for brands to take up spots there.

Strip the ‘metaverses’ of all the hype that Zuckerberg usually adds to any initiative of his, it is still quite a cool concept. Provided consumers and marketers are willing to spend a good deal of time in that parallel world and do their things. (Think ‘Matrix’ and its vision of a universe populated by versions of the individual, and you get a gist of what the Meta might offer.)

“Today, the metaverse involves a shared virtual space where users are represented by virtual avatars,” said Amit Raj, co-founder and COO at Binary, a digital OOH (out of home) agency. “It’s not just a simple virtual theme park where the design is centrally planned out. Nor is it just a simple game exclusively for the enjoyment of children. It’s also not a simple application you can download off the app store and “play” at your convenience. Metaverses are virtual universes that merge reality and the virtual world".

Mark Z's Meta will shake up the metaverse world. It will be at another level with Facebook, Instagram, and real-world seamless integration into the parallel universe

- Amit Raj

“Metaverse does exists in real time. Players can be doing separate activities at the same time. It also allows different platforms to work together. You can offer virtual advertising in the metaverse. For example, Bidstack, a video game adtech company, transitioned from working off in real-world outdoor advertising to placing ads on virtual billboards.”

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Can be expensive

Ad and marketing exposures in the meta world could be expensive, and that would be something advertisers are likely to find out this year. “It will eventually become expensive as more get in, because it is like real estate,” said Raj. “Comparatively, it will command more purely because it will give an immersive brand experience and, therefore, more value to advertisers.”

So, is Zuckerberg onto another winner? Whatever the young might say about being seen on Facebook, the platform is still counting the moolah from everyone else wanting to be on it. Despite the occasional fracas about data privacy, Facebook has advertisers lining up.

Instagram retains its clout with all the right demographics, so far easily withstanding the heavy competition from rivals such as Snap and TikTok. Will Metaverse deliver another hit for Facebook’s founder?

Stock - Metaverse
Welcome to the Metaverse - Consumers will be getting into the virtual world and brands and advertisers will follow just as soon. Image Credit: NYT

Last year, the overall ad spend in the UAE was estimated at about $765 million, based on ad industry feedback. The overall MENA spend was around $5.1 billion. Of the digital and social media spending, Facebook and Instagram’s share would be in the 30 per cent range, YouTube had 25 per cent, TikTok’s at 15 per cent, while Snapchat had 20 per cent.

Throw in Metaverse into the mix and offline advertising could be in for another round of disruption. “Conventional offline and online advertising methods will become a thing of the past,” said Raj. “For example, Fortnite, a player-versus-player game played by hundreds of millions in the Gen Z group, collaborated with Nike to promote its new Jordan sneakers and teamed up with rapper Travis Scott for a virtual gig to an audience of over 10 million. Metaverses are jam packed with innovative marketing potential.”

$ 765 m

The overall size of the UAE advertising market in 2021, based on industry estimates

Content and context

Kantar, the global marketing and research consultancy, in its 2022 forecasts reckons “metaverses gaining prominence” will be a dominant theme.

According to Keerat Dhillon, Associate Director at Kantar’s Insights Division, said, “The media landscape has always been dynamic, with the pandemic further fueling all the change. Advertisers still need to think very strategically about how to steer and operate in this changing landscape.

Content and context are now king, so the key is to minimise intrusion while maximising relevance for consumers. Customising your creatives to each context and amplifying the campaign’s coverage is key to driving maximum impact in the Middle East.

- Keerat Dhillon

If Zuckerberg has his way, his vision of the metaverse will deliver content and context. Brands sure will be hoping he gets it right.