A new era of the digital age opens with the metaverse. In an economy where e-commerce is steadily gaining market share, the opportunities offered by this 3D internet world are already being exploited by some forward-thinking brands. Meta is leading the way. Stéphane Guerry, President of Havas Sports & Entertainment, explains.
The metaverse, what is it?
It is a virtual or enhanced real world that is both immersive and lingering. This implies that events take place even when the user is not in it. This world can continue to be built, people can hang out in it without you being connected, an avatar representing you can continue to live its life, somewhat like a tamagotchi, and its reputation evolves without you. Many technologies, not yet completed, will make it possible to add elements to what we see in real life. For example, Facebook has just signed a partnership with Ray Ban to offer new in-car glasses that display additional data and Apple has even filed a patent to be able to project information and images directly onto the retina. This means that the real and the virtual will merge.
Tomorrow, everyone will be able to create their own reality-fiction.
What are the ambitions of "Metaverse by Havas", a new offer from the Havas group, in this new virtual world?
To begin with, we draw up an overview of what exists today and what will exist tomorrow for clients who request it. Brands are curious and know that they will have to penetrate this universe. But how and why? By contributing to the creation of a world that already exists or by creating their own universe? In what form will the brand be present? An avatar or avatars that lead discussions with communities that are present or to offer services such as the marketing of products in different virtual currencies... Lastly, the influence relays are not the same to let people know that a brand is in the metaverse (gamers on Twitch for example to reach children). We support candidates in these new forms of public relations.
What are the opportunities and promises for brands of this 3D internet?
From the consumer's point of view, they enter this universe to live another, enhanced life. In fact, in the United States, some consumers spend more on dressing up their virtual avatar than on themselves. They spend time there and are prepared to spend a lot, just like in video games. We did an experiment with Louis Vuitton for the League of Legends world championship, relaying a series of skins (virtual "skins") that allow players to change the appearance of their avatar. One can imagine selling these creations either in-game currency, cryptocurrency, or dollars or euros for these avatars. But beyond that, we have allowed the consumer himself to dress up in the player's outfit of his choice in a Vuitton collection created for the occasion. We are therefore going to develop revenue lines for brands by selling virtual items in these metaverses but also offering them in the real world. We can also imagine brands sponsoring virtual concerts. Finally, the property rights on certain collections that cannot be duplicated in this virtual world can generate value and therefore revenue for brands.
In your opinion, are some sectors of activity more affected by the metaverse than others?
All categories will be impacted. Evidently, the luxury sector in its quest to offer a unique brand experience to its customers is already very present. But also, car manufacturers who will be able to present their models elsewhere than in dealerships. The same goes for food distribution, which can invest in this universe to showcase short circuits (the "farmers" avatars), the way in which food is designed, the traceability of products, etc. Or sectors that are very involved, such as opticians, who will no longer be selling corrective eyewear but connection tools, such as computers or telephones. Ray Ban is already doing this with Facebook to offer an augmented reality projection eyewear.
Nike land on Roblox is part of a video game universe. But if brands want to sell tomorrow, will they have to adopt these specific codes?
Each universe (GTA, Minecraft, Roblox or Meta...) created in the metaverse responds to different consumer expectations. Brands need to understand the motivations of their targets in order to position themselves with strong added value. Recreating a dealership or a shop in the metaverse does not make sense. What is the best moment in the game or virtual world to present a product or to make people want to know more about a particular brand? These are the right questions to ask.
Mark Zuckerberg has announced that the metaverse will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in e-commerce over the next 10 years. How does this play out for merchants?
With a billion users, I believe in it very much. This will take different forms. First of all, not only Meta will develop metaverses. Some platforms will have free access, others will have paid access... these different types of subscriptions will help generate additional revenue. Secondly, many virtual products, not yet created, and immaterial goods will have value tomorrow. In addition, a large number of virtual services will emerge in these universes (delivery, internal messaging, La Poste, etc.). Finally, part of today's digital e-commerce activity will shift to meta-commerce tomorrow.
We have entered a new era of the digital age that is at least as important as the arrival of social media.
This has shifted a large part of the audience and touch points with brands and partly e-commerce. Some brands will choose to wait for the model to take hold, others will wish to be the first to show that they are at the cutting edge, as close as possible to the changes in their customers' uses, and others will be afraid of disappearing if they do not understand the shift that is taking place. Brands are questioning their dependence on Facebook for the distribution of their content and how they can remain a medium tomorrow in the metaverse.
Are their current structures adapted to tomorrow's world?
How are the competences of the three Havas group agencies divided in this new structure?
Metaverse by Havas is a consulting, creative, media and commerce offering for brands that see metaverses as a new space to address their branding, storytelling, experience, targeting and revenue generation challenges. We have brought together the best experts from the three Havas agencies at the forefront of metaverses - Havas Sports & Entertainment (video games), Havas Paris Social (brand building/reputation) and Socialyse Paris (social media buying).
The role of "Metaverse by Havas" is above all to decipher this universe for brands. When will we see the first concrete results in terms of business?
Every day, a new client contacts the agency on this subject followed by a workshop. Brands are wondering about tomorrow's stage to exist in these new territories. The issues concern products, commerce or customer relations. Avatars reincarnate the brand well beyond messaging or chat.
Does the metaverse help to better target consumers?
For each of our operations (Puma, Louis Vuitton...), we notice how much the brands are acknowledged and appreciated for their initiatives in these virtual worlds. This is in contrast to the sometimes intrusive nature of some internet advertising. Brands are very well received in the metaverse by Internet users. But today, the big audiences are concentrated in the game worlds. Customer-centric brands naturally have an advantage in existing in this new universe.
Could this parallel world be distancing brands from their audiences? How do you create attachment and transmit values?
We know that brands are already based on an intangible element. They are supposed to offer a company or their customers a value superior to the product or service provided. In this context, the metaverse is a wonderful tool for enriching interactions and experiences and therefore generating greater price elasticity. We are going to enter into the marketing of emotion and affect with these augmented experiences. The glasses will be able to analyse our emotions.
We are all going to evolve in a "fake world" that we have chosen ourselves. The risk, in the end, is to evolve in a false reality which we will convince ourselves is the best for us.
What are the obstacles, the reluctance of brands to enter this new universe?
The main hindrance, as with any revolution, is the fact that awareness of the scale of the phenomenon is still late in coming. The vision proposed by Meta proposes a playful world. As an agency, we have to help brands find their place in the metaverse, which is not just about games. Furthermore, there is a point of vigilance to bear in mind linked to the ecological transition, namely the data storage power that will be necessary in the metaverse and the consumption of bandwidth that this will involve. We in the Havas group will keep an eye on this.