The Future of Media: Grounding The Metaverse Hype, By OMD’s Caitriona Henry
OMD Worldwide
19 April 2022

Originally published on Brand Berries.

There has never been a more exciting time to be in media. The complexity of landscape continues but the surge in data, new types of content generation and discovery algorithms bring new possibilities and business models into play and surfaces new tensions as different players battle for dominance.

Marketers join the first party data fray. Many brands now realise they have millions of “loyalty members” and by better growing that pool and unlocking the value of that data we will see a world where CRM moves from precision marketing as niche to precision at scale. We will see media companies subsume data vendors and build out their own expertise in a bid to overcome the challenges of very different commercial models, and infrastructure. We will need a way of ingesting data, translating it to insight to unlock the value of media as a true lever for brand growth. The vision for data has largely been limited to contextual planning and targeting. What it can do is inspire new and fresh content, attract new audiences, and grow brands at scale.

New types of content generation with technology like Dall-E2, a new AI system from Open AI can take simple expressions and generate completely new realistic images and art. This is a genuinely exciting development and brings new opportunities for the metaverse. Immersive experiences such as gaming, have been confined by developers’ predictions of all the possible places you might go, and the range of assets required to get you there. That’s great but it’s restricted and expensive. Now AI can tap into the human capacity for surprise and create new immersive experiences with you. Through deep learning Dall-E2 not only understands the individual written words but the relationship between them and can express that dynamically. Helping people express themselves in completely new way.

Finally, there is the growth of discovery algorithms like TikTok which exposes you to unique content feeds.  The genius of TikTok is how this allows a whole new content stream to be available both user- generated and produced from across the entire platform.

This form of content discovery combined with the advent of Dall-E2 brings a whole new level to the idea of immersive experiences and the potential to turn the Metaverse from hype to value. Where machine learning has the potential to create high-quality content and experiences by combining the best of user content generated socially with artificially generated content, at a fraction of the cost (c.Ben Thompson Stratechery).

These 3 trends can take customer experience planning to a new dimension. Where data can illuminate more opportunities along multiple consumer journeys and media and creativity combine to deliver more value. A conceptual metaverse where brands enhance existing experiences using VR/ AR in a more fluid and frictionless way. Bigger and more engaging. Reimagine a retail world giving better customer experiences and leveraging all the unique assets of the business from employee, physical or virtual location to enhance the ultimate brand experience. Compelling and now commercially viable, scalable. This will allow brands to deliver on their unique brand purpose in a grounded, and practical way and is a big step in moving metaverse from hype to marketing reality and tangible business tool.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the fashion world who are leading the way both in tapping into an accelerating culture and the metaverse. A world where traditional boundaries are not only blurred but redrawn. Kanye West Yeezy Gap engineered by Balenciaga is where the influence of music, art and video games set the scene for how virtual trends seep into mainstream fashion. And, while many fashion houses chose to launch collections in Metaverse Fashion Week Decentraland (a decentralised virtual social platform on the Ethereum blockchain) it’s not for all. Creative director of Marni, Francesco Risso, cited in Vogue ahead of his WearWeAre virtual world launch gives a hint as to where the Metaverse is heading for brands who really get reality over the hype.

“Everyday at Marni we’re fighting for the importance of the studio, handiwork, tradition and humanity. I am curious to explore how we can engage with these new realms, but you’re not going to see aliens or anything like that [in our metaverse]. It was important that this was still grounded in the identity of who we are and the people we work with.” 

This is how brands can truly embrace the Metaverse. When they are true to themselves and how technology lives in service of that. This culmination of trends is what makes the next chapter of media so exciting. How we use data signals to fuel deep understanding of the brand, use empathy with culture and insight to navigate the new landscape and use technology to create new discoverable AI immersive content.

Creating experiences, valued and valuable experiences, grounded in what is real.

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