February 13, 2023
Following Facebook’s announcement that it was changing its name to ‘Meta’, the concept of the ‘metaverse’ has captured the imagination of the internet.
Due to its nascency, the ‘metaverse’ has yet to be fully defined and it’s likely that many companies will have a hand in its development. Elements of the metaverse are likely to affect a combination of sectors not yet fully explored – virtual gaming worlds, digital economies, and virtual and augmented reality.
New universe, new regulations?
Many of the issues for advertisers wanting to explore the metaverse are not new – however they are likely to be heightened due to the high levels of immersion, blurring of real and digital and the development of new technologies.
The UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has already released a brief blog on the metaverse (with the pithy title “Things can only get Meta”) which touches upon the issues they expect to see.
What issues should advertisers prepare for?
One of the largest pain points for advertisers is likely to be around the blurring of commercial and non-commercial content. CAP already has guidance around ‘advertorials’, social media disclosures and the blurring of marketing and gameplay in video games. How this guidance (and advertiser practice) develops to account for potentially varied and deeply immersive metaverse environments will be significant.
Advertisers will also need to consider the targeting of under 18s. This issue is likely to go hand-in-hand with other consumer issues such as privacy and online safety. It’s probable that this will hinge on how users sign-up, enter and ‘move’ within a metaverse (possibly even moving between multiple metaverses). Will certain metaverses be barred for under 18s? Will targeting technology develop so the same metaverse can ‘display’ different adverts depending on the user’s age?
Finally, advertisers will have to consider how they include material information in a metaverse context. For complex topics such as cryptoassets, assessing how the material information can be included in advertising has been a hurdle. Again, how advertisers achieve this is likely to depend on the technology available.
With brands already snapping up virtual land in The SandBox and Selfridges creating immersive shopping experiences with Pokémon, advertisers will no doubt continue exploring the metaverse as it progresses, along with all its issues and opportunities.
This article was first published as part of our “Expert insight on advertising, marketing & sponsorship” publication. Read insights on similar topics in the full publication here.