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What Happened to the Metaverse?

 

Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse was supposed to be the future. Instead of scrolling Facebook on our phones, we would prowl our living rooms in hefty AR (augmented reality) headsets, chatting to friends on the other side of the new world.

It was a hot topic. Humanity prepared to jump from one new normal to another. But today, there are fresh hot topics and the metaverse is not just an old story but something that never really happened. Tech hobbyists type into ChatGPT, ‘is the metaverse dead?’

 

The problem

Meta has sold about 20 million VR headsets, including models Quest 1, Quest 2 and Quest Pro. It’s not a bad number. But it’s not what they wanted. And the bigger problem: people who’ve bought a headset aren’t using it that much.

Meta’s VP of VR, Mark Rabkin, said, ‘Sadly, the newer cohorts that are coming in—the people who bought it this last Christmas—they’re just not as into it as the ones who bought it early.’

Engagement is low. People aren’t spending enough time in the metaverse. And, crucially, they’re not talking about it.

 

When Mark Zuckerberg set out to make a new world

In October 2021, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg picked himself up from his GDPR woes and announced a rebrand of the company. Welcome Meta. This was just one moment in a heartfelt video announcing Meta’s move into augmented reality, which Zuckerberg pitched as their absolute focus: ‘We’re going to be metaverse first, not Facebook first.’

The hype was real. But there was a lingering feeling that this was a passion project more than a logical move for a company facing intense scrutiny.

 

 

Is the metaverse dead?

We don’t know. What we do know is that Meta’s value has dropped by hundreds of billions in the past year and the company is launching a ‘year of efficiency’ to deal with the mess. Does this year of efficiency involve a new strategy to revitalise the metaverse? Nope. 

It appears that Zuckerberg is quietly killing off his baby. Meta is now focusing on the emerging technology that actually is going to change the way we live: generative AI.

The death will happen slowly. A few finance bros will buy Meta’s Ray-Ban smart glasses. The odd gaming nerd will discuss their latest adventures in a niche subreddit. The world will discuss other things as Meta’s investors quietly weep.

 

Why has the metaverse failed so hard?

Was it always destined to fail or have bad decisions along the way facilitated its demise? We think it’s a bit of both, and many other things:

  • Most people enjoy the novelty of VR; few want to spend lengths of time in chunky glasses.
  • The metaverse was overhyped and could never live up to the vision.
  • The real tech nerds all bought Apple Vision Pro. Quest headsets are more affordable and were envisioned for the masses, but the product appeals to a nicher audience than Zuckerberg had hoped.
  • People still don’t fully understand what the metaverse offers.
  • The product was launched at a time when society was especially hungry for human connection and real-life experiences – both things the metaverse has failed to provide.
  • It was Mark Zuckerberg’s passion project, and he poured way too much money into it.

 


 

At Digivate, we were excited for the metaverse to open up new ways of marketing. But we don’t see ourselves diving into Zuckerberg’s fantasy land any time soon. It just hasn’t taken off.

‘Why are we not more outraged to see powerful men burning money for fun?’ Sarah Manavis wrote for the New Statesman. Whether the CEO gave the metaverse the serious thought it called for before the move, we can’t say. But it will take a lot of work to recover the losses.

 

Mark Zuckerberg lifts his hands as he delivers a talk about Meta.

 

What happens now?

Now? Augmented reality will simply continue to be a minor thing in the world. Some people love it. And it could grow. But the big dogs at Meta will have to make their peace with it not being big or newsworthy or mainstream.

They’ll ride the AI train, and we’ll see how it goes.

 

Words of wisdom for marketing in the metaverse

Many companies have put a lot of money into metaverse marketing. We still think the opportunities for paid advertising in augmented reality are incredibly exciting. But with Quest users less and less engaged, it’s going to be hard to get a good ROI (return on investment).

Our advice: stay away. For now. There are so many incredible experiences you can create for your target users on mobile and desktop. In uncertain financial times, you want to put your money into established channels.

 

How to keep your digital marketing cutting edge

Don’t be put off experimenting with emerging technology. In many industries, it’s fundamental that you embrace the latest tech and practise innovative marketing strategies. You just need to proceed with caution and keep an eye on the data at all times.

We’re pretty passionate about a little activity we like to call digivating. Our digital marketing strategists are using interactive content, off-beat advertising and radical online experiences to get users excited about our clients. 

If that sounds like something you could do with, book a free consultation today. We can’t wait to dream together.

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How can we help?

We can implement the right technology and analytics for your business, set up tracking tags across all online activity and create a content strategy for all customer touchpoints that drive the prospects towards the final conversion.

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