I've been tracking the trend of the keyword 'metaverse' since social media business owner Mark Zuckerberg mentioned it in his company's investor call and when news outlets started promulgating the concept around 27 July 2020.
Due to Google Trends being a proportionally based metric I used the a similar term 'multiverse' to track it against (the topic 'multiverse' is strongly associated with the Animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse):
Note there was already significant conversation around 'metaverse' from April/May, but a slight uplift around July associated with Mark Zuckerberg's activity. (Note: the May metaverse signals are associated with Roblox).
Twitter Sentiment Analysis
It's been surprising to see the number of conversations from media outlets rapidly expand post the announcement and also a flurry of social media activity. Here is the sentiment for the term 'metaverse' based on the last 214 tweets:
Mostly pleasant. However, due to the limited characters allowed per twitter post it means that there is a high variance in accuracy.
News Items from Google Alerts
Here are some of the articles posted by media and bloggers - they appear to be positive and buoyant in sentiment.
So what about the metaverse concept itself?
I recall gaming platforms Steam, PlayStation, a whole segment of massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) such as Second Life, the film Ready Player One pioneering their version of a metaverse or virtual world around 10 to 15 years ago. That is, virtual spaces with waiting rooms, custom designable characters, virtual currency, missions, and conversation places. These spaces are interacted using virtual reality (VR) headsets and regular chat forums/rooms - a mix of both.
So what is the difference between these metaverses and the recently exalted metaverse?
With it being released in the earnings call there obviously needs to be a business play. Why else would one prime investors? By utilising significant signal presence, popularity and choosing specific media outlets Mark Zuckerberg has drawn this concept towards his social media spaces.
For example, we are talking Facebook's billions of users versus Steam & PlayStation's millions of users.
My hunch (which may be entirely wrong) is that Zuckerberg's aim is for some kind of wrapper for a metaverse world, much like his social media spaces are exclusive walled gardens. I expect the drive is to make Facebook the login-gateway and user-profile-gateway by integrating a few disparate services together more tightly with Facebook authentication and a virtual wallet:
- Occulus VR (acquired by Facebook in 2014 for US$2billion).
- Diem (previously Libra Coin) - touted as a 'global payments network'.
- Facebook's large scale data analytics, trend analysis, psychological and sentiment analysis tools to drive engagement.
- Advertising booking and placement engine.
- User authentication.
- Facebook Portal
Core Metric #1: Time in Metaverse
The key performance indicator could be to keep users engaged in this metaverse for as long as possible throughout the day and into the night. Imagine billions of people spending more and more time inside a walled garden comprising of multiple marketplaces of VR experiences, conversation rooms and supermarkets? Imagine those mega size tech companies, that is companies like Steam, Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation with hundres of millions of users moving their experiences inside the Zuckerberg walled garden? Imagine the billions of users personally creating their own experiences as user generated content?
Once you have the extended engagement, just imagine what is next...
Core Metric #2: Number of Advertisements Served Per Hour
Just think of all the places in this space where you could place advertising. On virtual shopping shelves, in-game advertisements, in-experience pop-ups, you might not even need Amazon anymore, you might not need Google search. But, imagine allowing other advertising auction systems to place their own ads in this exclusive metaverse and charging a small fee per transaction.
The numbers are staggerring, if Mark Zuckerberg can keep the sentiment positive, tactially release the right servces at the right time and ward off the threats of encumbent service providers.
It will be a bit tricky to get it all working, in much the same way that it takes quite a bit of fiddling to get a VR headset and games working. This was one of the things that Apple did brilliantly back in the day and that was combining and pulling all of these diverse technical components into a simple package (iPhone).
While Mark Zuckerberg may be first off the mark with seeding the concept of the social media metaverse, I think it will in essence be a combined hardware engineering, software usability and customer marketing effort that will truely be able to pull it off.