TL;DR: Like many disruptive technologies before it, the Metaverse has been met with a rolling of the eyes and a shrug of the shoulders. But publishers take note – the tech is evolving rapidly and its applications are immense writes Matthew Ulbrich, Co-Founder of Tickaroo, offering “unrivalled access to target audiences in novel capacities, and with faster connectivity.”
Meta’s Metaverse crashed onto the tech scene in October 2021, with commentators casting their votes on the prospect of its success. Divisive as usual – industry opinions on Zuckerberg’s newest invention swayed between “transformational gateway” and “cumbersome in general”.
So, what does the publishing sector think? With more than a quarter of Brits believing that the news will be delivered through the Metaverse within the next 5-10 years, it seems apt to ask – will they be right about this? Does society really want a virtual reality future?
Exponential growth and the tale of disruption
New, up-and-coming technologies have all walked the same line of exponential growth. The story goes: excitement first, deceptive growth meets disappointment next, doubt after, and then an eventual boom of disruption. This leads to a dematerialization and demonetization of the surpassed product or service. Then, finally, a widespread democratization of the new technology occurs. The metaverse is on this trajectory. The question remains whether Meta’s Metaverse will be the disruptor. In any case, some kind of alternative digital world beckons. The important point is that publishers take this shift seriously and think carefully about their digital approach if they are to stay ahead of the curve.
From print newspapers to analogue and VHS camcorders, these products and services were forced out of business because of the iPhone, laptops and other handheld devices. Suddenly, all the materials that once generated revenue became less valuable. Now, everyone has a digital camera in their hands. Both technology shifts have given birth to a new age in which individuals have the capacity to be their own reporter and tell their own stories – wherever they are in the world. Will the metaverse disrupt the media industry in the same way?
Metaverse Media: What’s in it for publishers
We have been moving towards the gamification of content and entertainment for some time now, with virtual worlds like Second Life gaining steady popularity since its release in 2003.
Indeed, with around 900,000 users on Second Life, the universe created its very own newspaper called Second Life Enquirer, which has seen its “circulation” figures grow substantially. As an online newspaper, it creates advertising opportunities for consumers and businesses alike through ‘advertising slots’, whereby businesses pay virtual-world currency to secure such slots.
There aren’t just standard newspapers, but cultural magazines and virtual aviation-focused papers, too – which discuss the cultural facets of Second Life. All of these ‘publications’ go some way in exemplifying how media could operate in the metaverse.
Interviews in the metaverse are already happening in papers like the Financial Times, where political figures discuss, debate and share opinions – but in any new virtual reality, the thorny fact remains: the line between fact and fiction can be easily blurred where offensive and misleading material is spouted in real-time.
With the forces of fake news already rampant on social media channels, any such ‘metaverse’ must have ethical credentials embedded within the technology itself, since misinformation will inevitably be difficult to track and police. Indeed, censorship of bad actors cannot solely be governed by regulatory measures. Rather, guidelines for ethical and positive control of content must be practised before any legal rulings are breached.
Meta’s land of opportunity
Still, great opportunities in the metaverse beckon, whether it’s buying metaverse property, selling the Meta Nike trainers or augmented art in virtual exhibitions. The metaverse offers unrivalled access to target audiences in novel capacities, and with faster connectivity. Engagement and content production will have an entirely new wingspan as will the marketing of digital goods.
The task won’t be easy or linear, however. Channelling metaverse opportunities will mean grasping core engagement tactics before the rest, which requires some serious forward-thinking considering how quickly trends change.
The rise of video as a core storytelling mechanism is clearly one to monitor, with Instagram’s latest redesign as an example. Mediums like liveblogs are similarly evolving, with 20 photos on average being posted per liveblog, as well as Instagram posts, Tweets and Polls increasingly being featured within liveblogs. Following a story in real time delivers an entirely different feel that increases the personalization aspect of the experience.
As individuals or citizen-reporters gain increasing access to publishing tools – whether that’s provided by the metaverse or not, the growing democratisation of content production will undeniably make the industry shift yet again – whether you pay attention now or later will define our virtual reality future. For those wanting to get a slice of the cake, now is the time to act by carving out their strategy to tap into the Metaverse. It’s an exciting time for consumers, brands and publishers alike and we’re looking forward to watching it unfold.
CEO and Co-Founder, Tickaroo
Tickaroo (tickaroo.com) is a multimedia liveblogging platform. In the B2B sector, Tickaroo’s software solution “Live Blog” is for media houses, larger companies, and professional sports reporters. With this product, the Regensburg-based company provides a live-content software solution that combines professional digital storytelling and live reporting. Customers include Der Spiegel, Süddeutsche Zeitung and RND. Over 72,000 journalists rely on its digital publishing software, which is available as a native app and web application.
In the B2C sector, Tickaroo “Live Sports” provides small sports clubs with a free, intuitive tool to tell their stories both on and off the pitch. Under the brand “made.by Tickaroo” (madeby.tickaroo.com), a team of designers and UX professionals create disruptive software solutions. In addition to fully implementing and supporting projects like the “kicker” sports news app and the online platform for the Red Bull Neymar Jr’s Five tournament, the experts also advise and plan sustainable concepts for new, scalable digital products. As CEOs, Naomi Owusu and Matthew Ulbrich lead the company’s vision and strategic direction.