Marketing Briefing: As the pressure to compete in the metaverse looms, mainstream brands experiment with AR/VR

photo of person using AR/VR googles with dollar sign bubbles

As marketers look for ways to bridge the post-COVID-19 gap between online and offline experiences, a number of marketers, from direct-to-consumer brands like CUUP and TULA, and legacy brands like Nestlé and Estée Lauder, are hoping to see big returns by investing in an alternative reality.

Nestlé in particular is working with social AR marketing company Camera IQ, leveraging AR across Snapchat and Instagram to market more than 40 of its brands. Most recently, Nestlé used the technology to create a filter for Instagram and Facebook where users could break a KitKat Zebra candy bar in half by moving their head.

That’s not to say AR and VR marketing efforts are new. But since the onset of the pandemic pushed many to spend more time online, and inspired a slew of brands to give the mixed reality space a second look to compete in the social commerce race.

“The consumer behavior we’ve seen has changed forever. Even if we’re going out into the world, we’re still living through, expressing ourselves and sharing through the lens of our camera,” said Allison Ferenci, Camera IQ’s CEO and co-founder, who works with the Nestlé team. “The opportunity for a brand to participate is only increasing.” 

The market for alternative, virtual and mixed reality is expected to reach $30.7 billion before the end of the year, — and surge to $300 billion by 2024, according to Statista. And then there’s the looming metaverse. Given this, it’s no surprise to marketing and advertising execs that brands are wanting to take advantage of the opportunity.

The AR/VR timeline mirrors that of all new tech, said Eric Bee, group production director of U.S. product production lead at R/GA. “It slowly becomes more democratized and available to people. This threshold gets passed where suddenly, it’s a lower risk to jump into these new platforms,” he said, suggesting that AR/VR technology is at that point in its own history.

The AR/VR gold rush is rooted in the advertising industry’s attempt at becoming more tech-savvy. “When you do it this way, it prepares brands for the next thing. It doesn’t stop with AR/VR and the metaverse. There’s always going to be something lurking down the path,” Bee said.

Naturally, not all brands will compete in this space in big ways. The “lowest hanging fruit” could come in the form of face filters on social media or experimenting with microsites, said Michael Modena, interactive director at Active Theory and Dreamwave, a technology program for virtual events.

“[Filters] are the first teeniest, tiniest sliver of light coming through the crack of the door to the metaverse,” Modena said. His advice to brands taking their first foray into the tech marketing space is to think about it less like an ad and more along the lines of creating community and adding to culture.

“That’s the ultimate win — when it transcends,” he said. “It’s not an ad. It’s not even an event. It’s a cultural moment that people will have in their lives, that they’ll remember.”

3 Questions with Rob Giglio, CMO at DocuSign

How is DocuSign approaching data privacy as the conversation around consumer data protection heats up?

Customers trust us with their most important agreements, so they need to trust that their data and privacy is secure. Trust is the foundation of everything we do at DocuSign and it’s one of our three core values as a company. We operate in accordance with fundamental privacy principles that underlie global privacy regulations when it comes to an individual’s right to know what data is collected and how it is used. This transparency is key. We also maintain a Trust Center, where customers can always access all the latest details on security, compliance, legal, privacy and system performance information that they need to feel comfortable transacting business online.

With the surge in remote work, how has DocuSign tweaked its marketing strategy (if it has at all?)

We are living in a time of customer “information overload” so as marketers, it is imperative that we make our messages as relevant and easy to understand as possible so we don’t add to the clutter. Our team is focused on creating simple, smart and straightforward messaging that makes it clear how our product can solve the challenges customers are facing on both our owned channels, as well as across search and online advertising.

Where do you see the future of remote work going?

Whether it’s more flexible work protocols, virtual medical visits or remote document notarization, the world at large found better ways to operate during the pandemic. The expectations of faster, more convenient interactions aren’t going away just because consumers are returning to more of their pre-pandemic routines. 

As the world steadily reopens, we are in a new era of work. It is no longer about getting to the future of work, but about what businesses and their employees need to be productive and efficient for how they choose to work today. I think that doing anything from anywhere at any time will remain essential. Any future plans need to take into account the way the entire playing field has evolved. Technological progress only moves in one direction and now that the anywhere economy has been established as the baseline, there’s no going back.

By the numbers

The word “burnout” has been buzzing throughout the industry for some time now, inserted into conversations about the future of work, company culture and the so-called Great Resignation. Although there’s no age limit to burnout, Gen Z is reportedly the generation that’s bucking the trend, pushing for better work-life balance. According to new research from Demonstrate, a marketing and communications agency, most Gen Zers report feelings of physical and emotional symptoms due to stress. More findings from the report below:

  • 77% of Gen Z expect to work harder than previous generations
  • 38% of Gen Z employees think work-life balance is important (vs. 47% of millennials)
  • 58% of Gen Z want to start their own business. 14% already own their own business.

Quote of the week

“People are shy to hire younger, fresher talent because they don’t have the same experience, but what you’re missing out on is the mold-ability. When talent doesn’t have these processes built into their minds, you can mold them up.”

— Programmatic executive on the struggle to hire younger, inexperienced talent, overhead during the Digiday Programmatic Marketing Summit

What we’ve covered

  • It is Apple, not supply chain woes, that online advertising businesses seemed most concerned by going into the home stretch of 2021.
  • The fifth ComplexCon featured many of the hallmarks of its pre-pandemic incarnations, and even the COVID-related changes did not diminish the event’s appeal for attendees, as documented in a video produced by Digiday.
  • As more and more brands flock to TikTok, unorthodox brands, in particular, say they’re finding success in niche communities.

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