What Is The “Metaverse” and What Could This Mean For Your Advertising?

Man using virtual reality headset in creative office

We live in such a fantastic time of technological advances. The other day I finally had fiber internet installed in my home. William Shatner actually went into space….he’s really Captain Kirk! Now, we enter the “metaverse”. So, what the heck is it?

First, you have to ask yourself if you are comfortable with Mark Zuckerberg having access to your “virtual reality” life. It seems clear to me that “Zuck” really wants to control your online word even more then his company already does.

“We believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet, we’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are,” he recently said at the recent Facebook annual conference. My kids have already shoved me into a “metaverse” of virtual reality where I donned a cool headset, placed some interesting devices in my hands, and suddenly found myself standing on top of a skyscraper….about to walk a plank. No. It’s not a cartoon. It’s real. See the trailer below.

Yup…no joke. This can be scary.

Keep in mind this was my first experience and it blew my mind! There is no way to express just how realistic this was. This was my first experience with Facebook’s Oculus VR headset. There are so many more game titles and it seems that developers are getting better and better at making things as real as possible.

While “gaming” certainly is a fun way to experience this tech…it’s clear that Facebook/Zuckerburg/Meta really want to create “The Matrix” combining both the physical and digital worlds. The idea, as I understand it, is where digital versions of yourself – avatars – interact at work and play, meeting in their office, going to concerts and even trying on clothes.

If this infrastructure was built “pre-covid”, I wonder if we’d ever physically need to be at offices ever again. Look at how many people are not wanting to return to work as it is!

Who’s ‘Zoomin’ Who?

The idea of not having to use “zoom” to interact with co-workers does seem like a treat. Let’s be honest. How many times do you hear “We can’t hear you….unmute your mic” – and I work in media! In the “metaverse” there is a pro app called “Horizon Workrooms”. It’s virtual offices where you hold meetings. Once you get over the “awkwardness” of being in a virtual world complete with “augmented reality” where your avatar can pick up a marker and write on a virtual whiteboard for all our co-workers to see.

I’m sure we haven’t even thought about all the possible applications for the “metaverse” but your can bet your “sweet bippy” that advertising opportunities will be fully explored. But, like any new tech….there are pluses and minuses.

I’ve recently removed my “personal” Facebook page and now only work on the platform for work purchases using my stage name. I got sick of the negativity surrounding politics and “wokeness”. So, think of how annoying a “virtual” political ad could be!?!? Not to mention the targeting of social media by state-backed hackers. Russia, Russia, Russia!

What data will Facebook be collecting on you? Are they listening to everything you say? Will they be monitoring your heart rate, your body language, age, gender, or how many orgasms you have? Seriously, even if they tell me they are not….I’m sure this “world” will be monitoring your physiological responses, all the while knowing who you are interacting with and how.

You realize, all of those things are phenomenally important when it comes to targeting marketing, right? On one hand, the idea of all this stuff being sent to people wanting me to buy their “stuff” is creeping me out but also seems wonderfully convenient.

For example, let’s say, during a virtual meeting, my “metaverse” software noticed a disturbing deviation from my normal heart rate or perhaps “senses” a drop in oxygen levels and suggests a trip to the doctor is in order. Perhaps, it goes on to suggest the latest Pfizer beta blocker should be discussed with my doctor. These scenarios could be life saving for me….lucrative for the advertiser that used my data to suggest their products.

But, let’s be clear. For years Facebook has been under fire for spreading misinformation and rampant censorship of those with different opinions to the foundation of the company. If those where not bad enough have you looked into the allegations that a whistleblower exposed many of the company’s secrets? Basically, it’s looking like profits over truth and protection are clear. That could create quite a scary future. Have you seen The Terminator? Zuckerberg is creating SkyNet.

So, while the idea of sitting on my couch in my pajama’s while my “metaverse” avatar is a “balla” dressed in his high end virtual suits, driving a virtual Mercedes, with a virtual trophy wife (with her own “augmented reality” body parts) while sipping on synthetic martini’s sure does sound like it will be great for my own personal self esteem, something tells me we need to be careful and cautious.

I think even Facebook realizes that in order for users to accept the tech….they need to prove to users that they are “responsible”. That means working with experts in government, industry and education to think through issues and opportunities in the metaverse. I fear that a true “balance” will be hard to achieve if the focus is going to stay on intense “wokeness” and political correctness. At the same time, they will need to involve the human rights and civil rights communities from the start to ensure these technologies are built in a way that’s inclusive and empowering – but doesn’t block free speech, something Facebook hasn’t been all that responsible with.

Let’s not loose our ability to use appropriate “tactile communication” – touching, handshaking, kissing, etc. conveys a message from sender to receiver. I don’t want to be the old man in the living room explaining to my grandkids the “old fashion” custom of “a hug”.

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