Marketing In The Metaverse

How brands and marketeers can play effectively in the gaming world by shifting mindset and going back to the basics

What about gaming? What about the metaverse? What about NFTs? As a specialist agency deeply rooted in youth culture, these are questions we’ve been fielding for far longer than most generalist agencies. And the answer isn’t as complicated as you would think, it’s important to always bring it back to one thing, the audience. Does your brand have a right to play in that space? Sometimes the answer will be no, but when it isn’t, it’s critical to be considerate of their expectations against your objectives – it should be mutual.

 

So, let’s talk the metaverse and, in particular, the gaming aspect of it. We chat to hundreds of kids a month around the globe and the same games get mentioned regularly, Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite and Animal Crossing. The gameplay is obviously a huge part of this but what always gets more adoration is the social elements of it. These worlds are where they can meet friends and like-minded individuals, the same way, you would meet in physical social spaces, in our FriendsKnowBest study in 2021, over 25% of under 16s had met a best friend online. And that’s how marketeers should be thinking about it, the narrative needs to change from purely gaming to social. This is a playground.

Think Traditional

Sounds obvious but it’s really important to get into this mindset. Be it TV, social, print, radio or gaming, one thing never changes in advertising, our need to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. Use as much first-party data and insights as you can get your hands on to define your strategy, creative and distribution, especially on platforms you don’t engage yourself. The reason so many agencies get marketing in youth-dominated spaces wrong is simple, they are going off gut, ego and history too much and not listening to what their audience actually want or where they are.

Recently, we were tasked with reaching Hot Wheels fans in the UK, before we even started to strategise on creative ideas, we dug into what made a HW fan tick. Our research and insights team found that Hot Wheels fans had three common interests, gaming, YouTube and challenge videos. Instead of getting bogged down by shoehorning gaming into creative, we let gaming, Roblox in this scenario, come to us and then ideated a way for the brand to work in these three domains. 

The results speak for themselves in the video below 👇

This worked because we ran it through what we call the three lens approach. We found out where our audience were, we used techniques that were native to the platforms (in this case Roblox and YouTube) and we always stayed true to the brand objectives. The three lens approach is great because it ensures you pay equal respect to the audience, platforms and objectives with every strategy you put together, when executed correctly as above, the results speak for themselves.

Using The World As A Content Vehicle

 

Building a world where people constantly play is a full-time job and an expensive one at that, the same way developing a YouTube channel is. You will have seen tonnes of PR over the last 24 months on brands entering the gaming space with new worlds and activations from Gucci to Nike to Vans, in terms of playing numbers, some have been a huge success, others haven’t. Unless brands are doubling down and investing heavily in this space, playing/attendance numbers should be seen as secondary KPI’s for activations.

Marketeers should think of the activation for exactly what it is; 

a vehicle to host and align with fans in real-time and… create shareable content around it that engages with those that couldn’t be there for that moment in time.

A good way to think of this is the same way effective OOH is utilised now. Think Marmite Dynamite from last year by the always brilliant Adam&eveDDB, this was an OOH activation that was rolled out with the sole purpose to create impactful and instantly shareable social assets around. On a quiet suburban street, there is a good chance that less than 100 people saw this in real-life, yet a few posts by the right people on social media, meant this award-winning campaign was seen by millions globally.

And this is how gaming activations should be done. Of course, you want players roaming your gaming world, you can advertise on the platforms to ensure that, you can also put press before the event but what matters more is how you stretch this activation across distribution channels and really hone in on your audience.

1) Pairing your world with creators that speak to your fans and getting them to create content of them playing there, they are the people with real sway in this space, let them be the ones to share your message. The creators give you the reach and influence you need, the world gives you the right to play and the nativity to work with these creators.

2) Capture the world in action and creators and playing within it. Incorporate it in your ad creative and place it on the relevant media platforms. As an agency, we have A/B tested UGC content vs traditional TVC content regularly over the last few years, UGC content continually outperforms in terms of view-through rate.

3) Advertise within the world. Whether this be on the platforms themselves or with some emerging programmatic gaming platforms, Bidstack and BloxBiz are two fantastic companies doing it right in this space currently.

4) PR purposes. Gaming and metaverse is a buzzword at the minute and journalists are clamouring for attention around the topics. It’s why luxury brands have swarmed around the metaverse in the last twelve months, think Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, Gucci et al. Guaranteed coverage plus the elevation of their brand to youth culture by making them seem relevant. People may be playing on the worlds but the brand elevation and progressive positioning to the mainstream is much more important here.

Setting Objectives And Measuring Success

Are you looking to build a long-standing IP or create a moment in time for your brand? What are your main goals from this? What does success look like? A good agency or consultant will help you answer these questions and a brilliant agency or consultant will tell you not to bother if you can’t answer these questions. 

Activations can’t be done for vanity, they need to be results-driven especially in emerging marketing spaces as new as the metaverse and gaming, the same way influencer marketing is only just getting over the bad press of lack of ROI and effectiveness, we should be mindful about giving this space the same bad name.

Once objectives are set, there are numerous ways to measure success throughout.

Within gaming platforms, brand partnerships are relatively straightforward to activate with the right network, the analytics tools are equally as user-friendly and the metrics aren’t too dissimilar to that of social platforms, think total visits, favourites, likes, dislikes, active user count, average play time, daily retention, revenue per user, conversion rate as base level.

Off the gaming platforms, this should be quite self-explanatory. Using gamers to spread the word? You’re looking for the same analytics you would with any normal campaign, view-through rate, positive sentiment, engagement, visits to your world within 24 hours of video going live. These are all key indicators as to the influence this gamer had on your campaign.

And, of course, as the market matures, so do the scrapping tools available, just like social scrapping, there are now tools which allow you to gain a better understanding of the lay of the meta-land. One of our favourites internally is the brilliant RTrack, which is Roblox’s equivalent to YouTube’s SocialBlade. Of course, these don’t give you all the answers but they give you a gauge and, more importantly, a talking point, before you dig deeper and start chatting to the target audience and setting benchmarks.

At KidsKnowBest, we speak to thousands of kids and families globally each year, if you would like to know more about this space or need insights on anything else in regards to these audiences, please get in touch at info@kidsknowbest.co.uk