What Publishers Need to Know About the Metaverse | Pulse | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

What Publishers Need to Know About the Metaverse

By Joe Hyrkin

The metaverse is being presented as an exciting opportunity for brands and consumers alike, and while some consider it an exciting future, there are likely more challenges ahead than real and sustainable business and content models.

For publishers, the metaverse is still uncharted territory to be entered with caution and only with a clear content and business model that transcends a "flavor of the month" mentality. Fear of missing out ("FOMO") is never the right foundation upon which to build. Publishers still have a lot to learn about this new world, and while there are a vast number of possibilities for marketers, the future of publishing within the metaverse is still unclear and unproven.

For every successful NFT, there are dozens that have failed. For every successful content play in the metaverse, there are dozens that have run out of steam. It can take a long-term view and commitment to craft a sustainable audience and business model in the metaverse. Roblox, one of the most successful platforms in the space, has been at it for nearly 20 years.

Of course, it's within the unknowns that opportunities exist, and so publishers still need to understand where the opportunities exist as opposed to the seductive ideas that will drain reserves. Before jumping into the metaverse, publishers need to know where the audiences are that are relevant to their content and area of expertise, as well as if that cohort of interested customers will continue to grow or is just a transitory interest group that can't be engaged beyond an initial connection.

Cautionary Tales from the Past

It can be easy to be entranced by new opportunities to be seen as an industry leader in an area that is gaining attention. And while there will be great businesses and great content to create in the metaverse, publishers should remember that this category is nothing new. We saw a huge surge in interest, like what we're seeing now, 15 years ago.

Brands such as Coke and American Apparel were racing to cement themselves in newly crafted digital realms such as Second Life. And as technology continues to advance, history is sure to repeat itself. It goes without saying that the past provides both invaluable lessons and cautionary tales for any publisher to reflect on before embarking on its own multi-dimensional venture.

Previous virtual reality business models can serve as a roadmap for publishers to avoid repeating mistakes. In an effort to invest in something new and appeal to the millions of anticipated virtual avatars, Coke created its Virtual Thirst Pavillion and NBA launched its own island, only to be met with dismal online traffic and ROI.

The claims of meteoric growth led to misleading expectations and millions of dollars invested in what can arguably be said to have little pay-off. Native digital currencies are no longer mandated across the metaverse. Today's computing power combined with the last decade of social media have all created more opportunities this time around, but it's still important to prevent being blindsided by hype.

Instead, companies need to define the value they are providing in the metaverse and what they are hoping to achieve in return, and they must have a long-term sustainable model that they can articulate and follow. Initial traction, historically, has more often than not been followed by limited ongoing growth and engagement.

The road ahead is a long one, and expectations of overnight success will often lead to disappointment. And yet, the future is not all doom and gloom. By carefully planning for sustainability and flexibility and taking a targeted approach to certain communities and content types, publishers can set themselves up for success in the metaverse.

Real-World Applications

Truth be told, a virtual world where everyone is engaged in the metaverse is still far away, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any real-world applications that would perform well now. While virtual concerts, pop-up shops, and NFTs are plentiful (and will only continue to grow), the metaverse does provide unique offerings for companies with a focus on training.

In the military field, virtual reality already plays a significant role in training. In fact, the virtual military training market was valued at $10.8 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $15.07 billion in 2025.

With this solid foundation already in place in another industry, publishers can build upon it to expand and optimize current offerings and transition this current practice into the metaverse.

Additionally, the metaverse can be used as an effective training tool for other industries, such as medical and sales. Establishing a content and business presence where there is already a relevant audience is the best place to start in forming a metaverse strategy.

From a creation standpoint, the most current and successful opportunities are those that are focused on real-world applications and that provide actual value. This means publishers should view the metaverse as an opportunity to extend a brand's services to an audience that has shown an appetite for their content in a metaverse format.

Don't expect to bring non-metaverse audiences into this experience as a starting point. Find the places where the audience exists and shows signs of sustainability. While it may be tempting to come out of the gates with something brand new, the brands that are likely to be the most successful will be those who come with a well-thought-out plan that considers what is already proving to be successful in this virtual space.

Planning Ahead

When planning for the future in this burgeoning ecosystem, it is imperative that publishers start with a sustainable plan that focuses on consistent growth. The metaverse is constantly evolving, so business models need to remain agile to be able to quickly adapt to these rapid changes.

Defining outcomes is an important step and can help tailor an effective business plan. For instance, monetization in the metaverse can be tricky, so brands need to plan how to create virtual goods and services into real-life profits beyond one-off efforts.

Additionally, the issue may lie in converting virtual leads into actual consumers, driving traffic and growth outside of the metaverse itself. Position the end goal as a north star so that publishing efforts are not lost among brands only there for the hype.

Overall, the metaverse now is not so different from its predecessor or the mid-2000s, and publishers would be wise to learn from past mistakes, identify brand value, and be scrupulous in planning to ensure a lucrative multi-dimensional future.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Joe Hyrkin is the CEO at Issuu.

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