June 14, 2023
If 2022 was all about the Metaverse, 2023 is about everything AI – and how AI will amplify the growth of the metaverse. The combination of these evolving technologies presents massive marketing opportunities for Chief Marketers that understand current customer engagement insights and trends.
The global metaverse market size was $65.51 billion in 2022, with a predicted CAGR of 41.6% between 2023 and 2030. Along with this, the global augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) market size is expected to grow to $114.5 billion by 2027, a CAGR of more than 25%, reports SDX Central. This convergence of enabling technologies is what will build the metaverse into what will be our evolved and immersive, customized reality by the end of this current decade.
A recent CMO Council Webinar explored ‘Marketing Leadership in the Metaverse Era: Why Should CMOs Be On Alert?’ Hosted by CMO Council VP, Bryan DeRose, it looked at how to maximize opportunities with data-driven intelligence for customer engagement in the evolving tech landscape – while not ignoring intuition to flag challenges.
As DeRose headlined in the Webinar opening, “The term, ‘metaverse’ is thrown around left and right, but very few people know what it means. To understand the future of marketing, leaders need to be on alert for what the everchanging tech landscape is shaping into - ambiguous terms and all.
“In fact, 48% of marketing leaders say a key to their data-marketing success is their ability to balance data insights with human intuition. You can have all the data in the world, but it takes humans to interpret the stories from the data and bring about creative differentiation. Without the human element, the ‘magic touch’ of marketing is lost.
“The metaverse provides a new opportunity for marketers to really meld art and science,” DeRose says.
Co-hosts of this CMO webinar included, Karthik Venkatakrishnan, Head of Marketing & Consumer Intelligence, APAC, GfK; Namita Tiwari, Marketing Director, Wipro; and Surya Narayanan, Vice President and Head of Marketing, Wonderla Holiday Ltd.
REPORT: This Webinar formed part of the CMO Council, ‘Signals From The Noise Program’, presented with GfK. For more information, check out our program page here.
What we learned from the ‘Signals From The Noise Program’, is that only 3 out of 10 marketing leaders are confident that their data engine can keep them ahead of sudden disruptions in markets, customer behavior and world events – as recent years have demonstrated dramatically.
CMO Council research has highlighted the myriad of challenges marketers have had to overcome to realize marketing’s full data potential. These range from inadequate data systems to lack of talent, to a corporate culture resistant to change.
Combining the creativity of the human condition with tools like the metaverse amplified by AI, while leveraging data insights with the intuition integral to individuals, multiplies marketing acumen. The reality check is of course, that regardless of the above cyberspace capers, there are limitations marketers need to understand to be effective.
GfK’s Karthik Venkatakrishnan, based in Singapore, spoke on “speed marketing” and the pressures marketers were under, needing a higher frequency of decision-making. “Today’s marketers operate in the eye of the hurricane, taking on new responsibilities and trying to deliver bold leadership at a time of deep fragmentation.”
Data can help CMOs to make better decisions at greater speed, as research by GfK with CMO Council showed: 80% of CMO’s say data, analytics, and insights are very important to winning and retaining customers. But with billions of data points, says Venkatakrishnan, the speed of closing the gap between data and insights, insights and action, is critical.
But barriers to data access exist, he outlines, such as insufficient technology, lack of data process, and that data control lies elsewhere. Plus, only 18% of marketers say they can move quickly from data gathering to actionable insights. Technology is a key point in solving data marketing challenges, and this is where AI comes in to increase high performance data system capabilities.
Are marketers ready for the metaverse?
Venkatakrishnan says marketers must be prepared and some have already begun adapting corporate structures and are aware of the signals coming through. Limitations such as corporate silos and budgets are still holding marketers back in integrating the metaverse into systems, and organisations need to reinvent themselves to tackle the human and data interaction.
As GfK demonstrated, with everchanging expectations and the next evolution of digital experiences and the metaverse, brands will have to find new ways to engage and satisfy tomorrow’s consumers.
Venkatakrishnan cautions: “Technology can take us to this aspect of the metaverse where living in the virtual world will be ever more prominent, but this needs to be backed up by trust, high competence with data, managing the privacy aspects, quality interactions, making actionable recommendations through technology, and removing all those internal silos.
“A deep understanding of behavior and changes in the market is needed, and high performing marketers have ‘always-on intelligence’. It is all about how you extract that insight and separate the noise to make it actionable.”
Wipro’s Namita Tiwari agrees that the metaverse is a gamechanger for marketers. “The metaverse and artificial intelligence are the two main tech trends completely driving modern marketing activities now. There are 3 ways the metaverse offers magical moments to consumers: emotion – you are present through your avatar; immersive experiences – accessible to everyone everywhere; and engagement, which is taken to a whole new level of brand omnipresence.”
Surya Narayanan from Wonderla Holiday Ltd, questioned the relevance of the hype around the metaverse, as emerging markets’ bandwidth and access would be a problem for most consumers in getting on board with brands in these virtual worlds.
“Should I build a house on rented land,” he quips, questioning the investment required to create worlds where he controls the experience versus a platform built on an existing social network which may be more accessible to consumers in the short term.
Generative AI (using AI to create content) is supporting marketing goals in the metaverse and opportunities abound as the tech develops, led by human creativity and machine learning. But they are just that: tools. It is ideas that will shape this virtual reality, or “smarter immersive worlds”, as Forbes calls them, where AI is very much needed to create “an engaging, authentic and scalable metaverse experience” for customers.
As Tiwari sums up, “The metaverse is completely limitless in the extent to which you can engage your consumers, providing them with experiences of a lifetime so they will be with you forever. It affects your brand’s loyalty and keeps you continually engaged with your customers and users.”
Towards the end of this decade, everything will happen in the metaverse, she says, from entertainment, to education, to socialising, movie watching, consumer purchases, and from that perspective, it is a huge opportunity window for marketers. But it is marketers that must use this embryonic tech to offer exclusive experiences, come up with unique ideas, or tie up with other brands to get a head start in this virtual world.
Louise has 25 years’ experience in B2B publishing as an award-winning editor, columnist and journalist on media brands in Africa; also working with brands/NGOs as a content strategist. She is currently Editorial Director of the CMO Council; lectures in Marketing & Advertising Communications at Red & Yellow School of Creative Business in Cape Town, SA; and writes and edits retail brand blog RetailingAfrica.com. She holds a Masters in Commerce: Strategy and Organisational Dynamics, from University of KwaZulu Natal, in conjunction with Copenhagen Business School in Denmark and UK Open University.
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