Creators will have an essential role to play in helping to humanise and build communities in the Metaverse, and can act as an important ambassadors for brands looking to explore the new virtual world, according to Olly Lewis, CEO & founder of THE FIFTH.
Commenting on a private discussion hosted by News UK’s social creative agency with thought leaders at this year’s Cannes Lions festival, Lewis noted the “unrivalled ability of creators to engage and influence their communities and to encourage people to harness the latest technology to help drive digital innovation”.
THE FIFTH Agency was founded in March 2019 on a new understanding of what it means to have real influence and how to wield it authentically and responsibly in the digital world. Lewis said the team are connected by a passion for talent, social expertise and a set of shared values, and believes the Metaverse represents an important new frontier in which creators can help forge the next era of the web.
This view was supported by Becky Owen, Head of Creator Marketing Innovation and Solutions for Meta EMEA. She noted how Meta is now training creators on how to transition their personal brand and communities into the space.
“The Metaverse is going to be all about community,” said Owen. “The individuals that are best at building communities online are creators. So it stands to reason that the more we empower them, the more likely we are to have a better version of the Metaverse.”
For the Metaverse to succeed, it will require significant user involvement, with virtual places and sites becoming home to vibrant communities. Interest is already building, with conversation on Meta’s Facebook around the term “Metaverse” reported to have grown 689% over the past 15 months.
Recognising the many different interpretations about what the Metaverse might become, Owen is keen to assure that Meta’s vision is around making time already spent on digital experiences more human and immersive.
“It’s not about increasing the amount of time spent in digital spaces,” said Owen. “Being mainlined into the internet is not the vision. We need to shift from this Blade Runner dystopian view of the Metaverse; it’s just the next evolution of digital consumption, one that is more immersive and intuitive. For example, having the ability to whisper or gesture in the space, will make it less draining and more conducive with human interactions.”
Part of what’s made creator marketing so successful to-date has been authenticity and relatability, and when it comes to the Metaverse, these characteristics are expected to be in demand on a whole new level. The potential of the Metaverse as a space for brands and creators is underlined by the latest forecast from investment bank Citi that suggest the Metaverse economy could reach 13 trillion by 2030, with 5 billion users.
Increasingly hyped as the next generation of the internet — combining the physical and digital world in a persistent and immersive manner — curiosity is building about its potential. A survey from software and service provider Izea earlier this year found 60% of influencer respondents were already incorporating the Metaverse into their career and trying to create content for it. What’s more, 70% of the influencers surveyed said that they expect the Metaverse to completely replace social media at some point in the future.
Rich Devine, Executive Advisor and Consultant, revealed at the discussion he had been involved in 25-30 briefs for Creators since the start of the year, and more than half have had Web3 or Metaverse requirements. “It’s been a surprise to me and my clients,” he admitted. “As we move forward, I think briefs will continue to merge creators with the Metaverse, and the most successful agencies will be finding a way to apply relevant utility to the space.”
Also in Cannes, Dino Myers-Lamptey, Founder of The Barber Shop, a strategy-led agency, called the virtual reality experience related to developments in the Metaverse “incredible”, and said he believes it will transform how people learn and experience the world. “Developers are going to flood into it and it will only get better,” he said. “It is a transformative experience and I can understand why, if you are going to invest in anything, then it will be in this virtual world.”
Myers-Lamptey singled out National Geographic’s immersive experiences on Oculus Rift , which enable users to experience historical places like never before. Having been to Peru’s Machu Picchu in real life, Myers-Lamptey admitted the VR was arguably more informative. “It allows you to go there and see what you’re seeing but also to rebuild what it was like in the past.”
Citing anecdotal feedback from THE FIFTH’s network, Lewis confirmed that UK creators have good reason to feel hopeful about the new era of the internet and their role within it. “We believe in the talent who are truly influencing culture, the community guardians and the changemakers and have built our agency around helping brands connect with these voices in an authentic and creative format,” he said. “At THE FIFTH, we believe the Metaverse represents the next exciting chapter for creators. Many of them are already changing perceptions around what it means to be in influencer marketing today.”
One campaign handled by THE FIFTH for this summer’s Wimbledon Tennis Championships put the real-world location ‘Henman Hill’ into the Metaverse. The campaign saw six influencer families venture into the Metaverse to visit the Virtual Hill, recreating the Wimbledon experience for those unable to visit in person. The influencers were tasked to take on the Virtual Hill’s daily challenges, win the prizes on offer, and ultimately become #ChampionOfTheHill as a result.
Such activity underlines the ability of creators to help educate and guide people into the Metaverse in a way that feels beneficial, fulfilling and purposeful. It’s these creators that will bring the awesome promise of the Metaverse to reality for all.