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What Is the Metaverse and What Does It Mean for Marketing?

In 2021, Facebook made a significant change to its company. The change wasn’t to its algorithms or its budget — it was something much more fundamental: Its name. Facebook rebranded as Meta, a move it said was prompted by a new focus on something called “the metaverse.”

The change made headlines immediately, and the Internet was soon filled with discussion about it — some hype, some mockery, and some confusion. One of the biggest things people kept saying was, “What is the metaverse, exactly?”

Even now, people are still asking that same question — and if you’re reading this post, you’re probably one of those people. That’s why we’re going to explain the concept of the metaverse below, so just keep reading to learn more.

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What is the metaverse?

With the term having grown so popular in the past year, what is the metaverse, exactly?

Odds are, you were hoping to find a clear and simple definition of the term. Unfortunately, no such metaverse definition exists, and that’s largely because no one can seem to agree on what exactly the metaverse is.

Everyone has some idea of what the term “metaverse” relates to. It’s something digital, related to the Internet, and sounds futuristic. Beyond that, though, it’s not easily definable. Everyone seems to have a different metaverse definition.

For that reason, the best way to define the metaverse is to look at it through multiple lenses. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common ways people have viewed or categorized the metaverse. Together, all those lenses can present a well-rounded perspective on the subject.

Is the metaverse the next Internet?

One of the most common ideas associated with the metaverse is that it represents the future. More specifically, some have referred to it as the “new Internet.” The idea is that the metaverse will somehow replace or supplant our current understanding of the Internet in years to come.

Of course, one of the biggest issues with this ‘definition’ is that it does nothing to clear up the vagueness of the term. What does it even mean to call the metaverse the “new Internet?” No one seems to know for sure.

Is the metaverse virtual reality?

When you hear about the metaverse, something you might see referenced is virtual reality (VR). You might have heard of VR before — it’s most often shown by people putting on headsets and seeing a virtual, 3D world projected before their eyes.

So, is that what the metaverse is? Some kind of virtual reality? Well… sort of.

VR is strongly associated with the metaverse. When people talk about “entering the metaverse,” they’re often talking about doing so via VR. The idea is that you can use VR to engage with various aspects of the digital world, from playing games to buying products.

In short, yes — you could define the metaverse as an interconnected virtual reality, and VR is a great way to visualize that. However, many people have argued that virtual reality isn’t required to access the metaverse. So, the vagueness of the term persists.

Is the metaverse a marketing gimmick?

While some metaverse definitions are based on futurism or new technology, others are less positive. Critics of the metaverse have posited that the term is nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

Whether accurate or not, it’s hard to deny that there’s some sense in this perspective. Companies keep using the term to market themselves, even though no one even seems to know what it means. Even the companies themselves struggle to articulate what exactly it is that they’re promoting.

Many critics of the term have proposed that these companies aren’t marketing anything specific, they’re simply trying to sound futuristic to draw in more revenue from excited consumers.

Is the metaverse a science fiction concept?

There are many critics of the metaverse, but not all of them agree about what the issue is. We just talked about critics who feel the metaverse is nothing more than a vague marketing concept. But others think the metaverse is a legitimate idea — just not an attainable one.

These critics identify the metaverse as a fictional concept, one we can dream about but likely never achieve, at least not in the near future. They point to science fiction works such as Ready Player One, where people can enter a digital world through VR, as examples of this.

It’s up for debate whether the metaverse is ever something we can reach. But it’s worth noting that the term “metaverse” was first coined in the fictional work Snow Crash, lending some credence to this viewpoint.

Is the metaverse a surveillance tool?

The final major perspective on the metaverse is the most negative viewpoint of all — that it’s intended to be a tool for mass surveillance.

Companies like Google and Facebook have long been at the center of digital privacy concerns, and some people seem to think the metaverse is their latest tool for violating that privacy. After all, the metaverse is entirely digital, so anything you do there can be tracked just like regular Internet browsing.

Whether there’s any validity to this perspective is unclear, largely because we still don’t know what the metaverse would look like in practice. There are certainly versions of it that would cause privacy concerns, but we don’t know what version — if any — will make it into reality.

What does the metaverse mean for marketing?

Now that we’ve looked at some of the different perspectives on the metaverse, you might be wondering how it’s relevant to marketing. What does the apparent rise of the metaverse mean for your business?

The answer depends largely on your industry. If you work in digital tech, it could be worth thinking about how it could affect your marketing, especially if you work with companies like Meta that talk about the metaverse a lot.

Even if you aren’t in the tech industry, you might want to keep an eye on the metaverse in the news. If the time does arrive when companies are making significant strides in metaverse ecommerce, you could consider selling there.

For the most part, though, the very fact that we can’t really define the term indicates how intangible the metaverse currently is. For most industries, it’s not likely to have a very large effect on your business anytime in the near future.

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The metaverse might not be of the utmost concern for your company, but there are plenty of other marketing components that are. If you’re looking for someone to help you better understand your marketing strategies, look no further than WebFX.

WebFX has over 28 years of experience with digital marketing, and we’d love to help you learn more about the marketing world. To get marketing tips delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to Revenue Weekly, our email newsletter.

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