In the metaverse, shopping systems and advertisements overlap and individualization increases. In this way, Meta could open up new and bigger revenue streams, especially if the group increasingly integrates digital into reality via augmented reality.
A Meta patent approved in 2019 “Determining the Appearance of Objects in a Virtual World Based on Sponsoring the Appearance of Objects” describes an advertising system that shows you product designs tailored to your preferences in a virtual store.
Individual VR advertising universes
In plain language, this means: you and your Metaverse friends are walking through a virtual store whose structure is the same for everyone. But: You see different products, corresponding to your individual preferences.
The online system provided by Meta receives “sponsorship requests for sponsorship of appearances of one or more objects in the virtual world”. During presentation, according to the patent, the system selects an appearance for the virtual object from the supplied advertising data that “matches the characteristics of the user” and displays it.
It’s basically Meta’s – or Google’s – auction-based web advertising model transferred to a virtual world: there’s a fixed placement for an ad on a website or in an app, which the highest bidder can fill with advertising.
What’s interesting for Meta is that – in the case of a self-managed Metaverse environment – it could also charge fees for the transaction on top of advertising fees, if the user decides to buy. Amazon’s market strategy could serve as a model here. If there is also a real thing attached to the digital good – like the sneakers that are delivered for the avatar and in reality – the sales potential increases further.
AR mode: digital goods in reality
Now imagine that the sneaker was no longer to be produced in real life, but the digital use was transferred to reality via augmented reality. People could wear bespoke “placeholder sneakers” from the 3D printer, onto which their favorite design is projected using AR glasses.
It could spark new fashion trends, would likely be more resource-efficient, and should be particularly appreciated by future generations who identify at least as strongly with their digital identity as they do with their real existence (listen: MIXEDCAST #274 – Metaverse Trolls ).
“It’s an interesting thought experiment when you walk around for a day and think to yourself: how many things in my life don’t need to exist physically and could easily be replaced by a digital hologram in a world with a [Tech-] Glasses,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in the summer of 2021. “It’s part of Metaverse’s vision that we have a lot of digital goods, including digital apparel.”
The VR store advertising system described above could also be extended to real stores with augmented reality: you walk into a physical store and digital products are presented to you.
However, in such an advanced sci-fi scenario, the physical store has probably had its day in many cases. And there are countless question marks in this example: the necessary technology does not exist, and it is not foreseeable that these concepts will even be accepted by young people. Ultimately, the individual digital worlds embedded in the common reality would massively change and perhaps divide social interaction. What do people who don’t want to participate see in mixed reality – a dull reality like that visualized by Keiichi Matsuda?
Perhaps because of this complexity, Zuckerberg begins by focusing on virtual reality. There, the variety of environments is manageable and controllable. Appropriate concepts and systems can thus be more easily tested and established, users can get used to them and be integrated into the ecosystem – before the further expansion of the metaverse into reality is then technically and socially possible applies.
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