{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Preparing for the Metaverse

{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Preparing for the Metaverse

In this week’s episode, John and Chris talk about practical steps all marketers can take to prepare for one or more metaverses succeeding in a few years. What things should you be doing today? What foundation pieces should you have in place over the next few years? And what’s a safe bet whether or not the metaverse takes off? Tune in to find out!

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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Christopher Penn 0:17

In this week’s In-Ear Insights KT is out in the woods being chased by raccoons and bears.

So I have partner and also marketing over coffee co host John Wall with us for this show.

And today, let’s talk about the metaverse.

So the metaverse, both generic term.

And the term that the mega corporation is trying to get to be popular is essentially a couple of different technologies bundled together.

On one hand, it is sort of a virtual environment powered by VR.

And by netas.

Oculus platform.

And on the other hand, is sort of a whole transaction and commerce system that they envision being powered in part by various blockchains in which they would administer.

So these kinds of couple things coupled together are what they’re they’re kind of thinking of as the metaverse.

So John, when you hear the metaverse what comes to mind?

John Wall 1:15

The first thing is, this is just classical marketing stuff of you know, the people building it are naming this thing and putting it out there and saying this is the thing.

But you know, what people are actually going to throw down money for and what it’s actually going to look like may not have anything in common with what we’re looking at right now.

You know, I could easily and I don’t know, in fact, we’re kind of to a point where it’s been a couple months, and I haven’t heard of massive adoption.

So as far as I’m concerned, it seems like it’s starting to slip into that trough of despair.

Christopher Penn 1:46

Well, I think part of it is because it like you said it’s a lot of vaporware at the moment there isn’t really, I was in in my Oculus headset the other night, and they’ve added some new features and stuff.

But there’s still not a Metaverse environment where you can pop in.

So for folks who are older who have been in the digital landscape for a really long time, you may recall about 16 years ago, was this environment called Second Life run by Linden Labs, which was a Metaverse it was a 3d environment that was totally freeform.

And you could create avatars and wander around.

An analogy today would be the virtual worlds like Minecraft, for example, or Roblox where you just go in, and there’s not really a there’s nothing to win.

It’s just this virtual world that you spend a lot of time in.

And it is kind of funny because I see Facebook essentially sort of reinventing the wheel and you know, the the Linden labs Second Life.

Metaverse, at its peak, I think did have a couple of million concurrent users.

And that was just with a desktop computer.

You didn’t need any special hardware for it.

But that’s it doesn’t really exist as a coherent entity yet, there’s, there’s no killer app, a start button, and your Oculus headset says take me to the metaverse and then you’re up and running, it’s not available.

So I think being in the trough of Despair is a great way to put it.

John Wall 3:17

Yeah, and it’s you know, just because you build the conference center, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to have shows and events that are going to happen, you know, and you see this mistake made in real life all the time of, you know, some second rate city that’s doing terribly, tries to build a conference center to bring in some action and get traffic going.

And, you know, five years later, the thing is being torn down or turned into some other thing because nobody wants to show up.

They’re the most interesting stuff.

You mentioned.

Minecraft, you know, that is a community where people go to and it’s, you know, kind of virtual Legos.

And there’s a lot of fans and a lot of activity around that.

And that’s good.

And I’ve seen some crossover with fortnight to you know, they’ve done concerts with Ariana Grande and a couple other things in that space, they have a short film festival that they run.

So there’s, you know, they’re kind of taking that gamer crowd and seeing if they can get them to move somewhere else.

And I think the, you know, results have only been limited like there’s been, there’s a lot of people that go to those events, but those are the people who are playing the game and they want to see what’s going on.

You don’t have people running out saying, oh, I need to sign up for fortnight so I can go see.

You know what Ariana Grande is up to this week.

So it’s, you know, it’s like any new tech platform, you throw it out there, but yeah, it is funny for us like having been around forever.

It’s like yeah, these, you know, when you look at Second Life for I mean, even I saw like the first multiplayer gaming pods in the 90s You know, they were people doing that with mainframes.

And you need some killer content.

I’m kind of surprised I thought beat saver had a lot of momentum, but it seems like it’s not enough to get it over the mark.

And of course, you know, all these dance games have seemed to tank and have have had their day and that seems to have faded away for now.

I mean, maybe it will come back But yeah, they they need to get there kind of golden moment.

And I don’t know, what do you think is it? I mean, Apple has been watching this space forever too.

And they’re a good example of a company that would wait until it’s mature and they found a vertical to go for and they have yet to throw into the space.

So that makes me think was just, we’re even though it’s been decades, we’re still too early.

Christopher Penn 5:21

Well, yeah.

And here’s why.

I mean, for the folks who are just listening, you can’t see this part.

But I’ve got my virtual reality headset here.

This is a terrible experience, right? I have this giant thing strapped to my head.

And the interface that is not great, right, you know, there’s controllers and stuff like that.

But fundamentally, when you think about, you know, Apple, I think is a really great example, I’m gonna take this off.

Now.

Apple’s really great example.

They don’t, they’re not first, Apple tends to be tried for best, right? They were not the first mp3 player, they were not the first smartphone, they were not the first tablet computer.

But they have crew, they’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of effort on design and user experience.

So that you have, you know, today’s smartphones, virtually all of them are because of the iPhone, right? No matter, you know, who has the market share, the form factor that we enjoy, and smartphones today would not have existed without the iPhone period, because everything open to that point was you know, blackberries and stuff, and physical keyboards and stuff.

The iPod itself, the idea of just carrying around your music, the Macintosh, all these things.

So Apple, to your point has not come out with any kind of virtual reality play because you’re strapping a device, right? Until it is something that is a lot less cumbersome.

Or potentially, you know, more of the augmented reality, or maybe just simulate a better simulated environment.

On large scale displays, you know, you have, we have things like Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV and stuff, where inside of a 65 inch TV, if you’re sitting in front of this thing, it’s fairly close to synthetic 3d, like I play World of Warcraft on a 65 inch screen TV, and I sit two feet away from it.

So I don’t need to wear a headset, because this thing was gigantic.

Right?

John Wall 7:25

Yeah, it’s fulfill the vision.

And that’s a great point.

Because we’ve already seen this with like, I was looking with movie theaters, you know, where people are doing 360 degree video.

The reality is, if you’re trying to tell a story or do something, it’s pretty much going to be within 90 degrees of action, you know, maybe now and then stuff will happen at 180.

And for a surprise, you’d want something behind you, but you’re not going to have action going on in front and then back.

And that makes a huge difference in terms of bandwidth required to do it and storage where and what do you think about that, too, that’s another thing is that we see this all the time, and that the technology is there to build kind of proof of concept, right? Like, I mean, when you look at like a palm or trio smartphone, you know, a precursor to an iPhone, like, yeah, they could do the stuff, but it’s just that the processors in the memory weren’t there to make it really good.

It just sort of worked.

And it was, you know, clunky.

I mean, it was even black and white for a while before they had enough power to go to color.

And it’s not until you kind of cross over that line where multimedia works.

Okay, that now suddenly, the device gets really cool really fast.

And I can totally see that.

You know, because we are to the point, if you get to a point where you can make a $50 headset that already has a tour of the Louvre or you know, the latest Star Wars movie in it.

And you can just buy this thing and throw it on your head and use it and it takes no setup, no headache, you know, nothing.

I could see that maybe giving it a little more juice.

But yeah, I think in some ways, maybe the tech is still not there for me mass market.

Christopher Penn 8:57

Well, and this is a critical point for marketers in particular, creating content for a Metaverse is a very, very high technical hurdle, right.

To create 3d content is complex, even in Second Life again, back in 2006.

The building kit in there, it was a little more user friendly user more accessible, but it was still not something that more than a small percentage of users did.

Recently so I went to the MAE con conference in Cleveland and I brought my GoPro 360 camera which films in full 360 degree resolution.

I bought this thing hall I recorded my session which is about 40 minutes I recorded my session with a separate mic and then the camera and when I got home to try and turn it into a VR ready video.

It took 500 gigabytes of my disk right it took literally 1/3 of my entire hard drive for one single video, Adobe Premiere and this is on an M one Mac that has 64 gigs of RAM and you know the all the bells and whistles and it took two and a half hours to render.

And then load to YouTube of a 51 gigabyte file by the time was done rendering it and sending it to YouTube.

And now yes, if you have an Oculus headset and the YouTube app, you can go into my MAE con session on YouTube, and experience it as if you were literally sitting in the front row, which is a pretty cool experience.

But it still isn’t quite there yet, like I didn’t have the mic set up to do spatial audio.

So it was it’s a very flat sound, you don’t get that that stereo effect of like if you move your head around the audio changes, so it’s still not a truly authentic experience.

And that was just to produce a single video on an app that somebody else already has within Facebook’s ecosystem within Metis.

Add a verse, you know, the YouTube app, that’s just creating a single piece of content.

And it took me a couple of days to do it.

And now granted was messing around I was I would have done it anyway, just for just for fun.

But if you’re a brand saying, Okay, well, how do I get started in this thing? Well, how’s your development team? How’s your development team working with tools like Unity? How’s your video game development team, because a lot of the skills that you use to build a triple A title video game you would use for the metaverse, and I would virtually guarantee that most brands are gonna say we don’t have a video game.

Right? We don’t have those skills.

And so a big problem the metaverse folks have to solve is who’s going to create content for this stuff with the technical bar being so high, at least in the first few years?

John Wall 11:34

Yeah, right.

Because anybody who’s good at Unity is already working in a game shop, you know, the talent is not just floating around there.

So now you need to find people who want to play with unity.

And yeah, that’s a pretty short list of folks to get into.

Yeah, so

Christopher Penn 11:49

something else you said too, about Minecraft, which is interesting.

And this is a this is another major hurdle for brands and marketers is you got to pick out which Metaverse you want, right, because there’s Facebook, a meta version of metaverse.

But then to your point, there is Minecraft, which is Microsoft’s cloud and environment, right.

And of course, I’m sure at some point, Google will have some sort of virtual environment.

If it seems like the thing is going to have legs, Apple may have one.

And so now you’re in a system of battling tech giants or whose Metaverse you want to develop for.

John Wall 12:19

Yeah, right.

And that’s gonna be really interesting to see how that works.

As far as do people start partnering up? You know, do we get a unified platform of some kind where, you know, maybe they don’t run the same, but maybe the content can easily be ported across into another environment? And, yeah, because, yeah, sure, there’s 10s of millions of people over in Minecraft, but if those aren’t the kind of people that buy whatever you’re selling, that’s of no use to you at all, like, you’re, there’s no way you’re gonna get a bunch of 50 somethings to go start downloading Minecraft and figure out like how to go get your coupon, you know, eight levels down in the ether or whatever, like, that’s just not going to happen.

Christopher Penn 12:58

Yeah, and then layer in the whole idea of using some of the web three tech to handle the purchasing the blockchain and NF T’s to handle the transaction processing, and you got some pretty substantial obstacles to adoption, in terms of what you could do, what’s theoretically possible, and then what I think it’s gonna be a bit before you see that whatever that killer app is, in Second Life, the killer app was music.

The killer app was the ability for musicians to play live concerts, you know, with their avatars, and with such minimal overhead for controlling their avatars, that they were able to sit down and plug their gear in, and actually do a show right now, which 16 years later isn’t as revolutionary as it was back then.

Right? You know, people live streaming this stuff is, is not exactly big deal anymore.

But the skills needed to do something like live streaming are going to be directly portable into whatever meta environment we end up being in.

John Wall 14:00

Yeah, it’s going to be amazing to see.

That is I still I, you know, I always fall into this thing of like, I see things like you’re talking about music, it just seems like it’s a no brainer that somebody could jump into some of these platforms and have their concert of the week.

But I think, you know, the problem is the artists that are huge enough to do it.

They’ve already got enough income streams that they don’t need to play around with it.

And the ones that don’t have the crowd, well, they’re just kind of playing to empty rooms until they can get it up and running.

But yeah, I don’t know.

I think that an artist that wants to just jump on a platform like that and put music out on a regular basis, that seems like a huge opportunity for me right now.

Christopher Penn 14:38

Yeah, that anybody who is doing any kind of live event, you know, having a 360 degrees video stream that is a front row seat at the Lakers or the Celtics or, you know, at the 50 yard line in Gillette Stadium.

That seems like an easy win, right? Okay.

You can have Have the $5,000 seat ticket experience well, or the 60% of the experience because get sight and sound, you don’t get the hot dog smell.

But you get that experience in a way that you probably could not without forking over, you know, several months worth of your mortgage for that single day.

John Wall 15:20

Yeah, that again, that’s like another huge opportunity, I just think there must be 1000s of people that would be willing to pay 30 bucks to sit at the Superbowl? You know, I mean, you think that something like that would fly.

But again, it’s the bureaucracy of there’s people that are afraid that will cannibalize the ticket sales, which, you know, given the resale market, I can’t believe that’s even a thought.

But, you know, again, there’s people were, well, that’s not my job to do that.

But yeah, it just seems like being able to put on the headset and watch the game of the week should be a thing.

But here we are,

Christopher Penn 15:52

exactly.

It shouldn’t be a thing.

And and the part that I think folks don’t realize is the scalability of it.

Like if you have a 360 degree stream from that seat, a real person can only only one real person can occupy that seat, right, but 50,000 people can occupy that stream.

John Wall 16:07

Yeah, that right, that seat could generate another 50 100,000 views a huge pile of money for that one seat where, you know, only one physical but will fit in there.

But, you know, again, it’s you’ve got to, you’ve got to sell it to somebody.

And then of course, there is the, as soon as it hits the internet, you know, now it’s like other countries can steal it.

And there’s all kinds of crazy things that go into that.

And not to mention, all the TV rights are already negotiated, you know, for all this stuff, and so that you need somebody to jump on board with that, too.

Christopher Penn 16:37

Exactly.

That’s an actually an interesting aspect too, because the way 360 video works, and I realize we’re focusing on the video portion, because the 3d composition portion is is much more complex.

But you if you’re a smart brand, and this is where things like those NF T’s could actually come in handy is allowing creators to remix, like, okay, so you get the, here’s the entire field of Ustream 360 degrees.

And then you know, a substance creator can license part of it and say, I want to show just my version of the highlights from the game, like, I don’t want to show the whole game, I want to do my tailored version and recap and reaction videos, things like that.

And they could license part of it.

And then of course, the way these blockchains work, if they license it from say, CBS Sports, CBS Sports says okay, well, here’s your your license of authenticity, which is all an NF t is, every time then that creator distributes their content, CBS gets, of course, a cut of any money that’s made on it.

So there could be some decent downstream revenue from that, for brands are adventurous enough to adopt it.

John Wall 17:43

You Yeah, and I, you know, the whole NFT thing is, I mean, it’s kind of like referring to things as consumer packaged goods or whatever, you know, I mean, you’re kind of talking about a class of things, but it doesn’t really get that message across, as to what these things are.

And that’s what this is where, you know, the existing environments of Minecraft and fortnight and things like that, and World of Warcraft, where you’re buying virtual goods, and you actually get a feel for like, Okay, I throw either real money or my coins down.

And this is the thing I get in return.

And yeah, maybe it is something where, you know, when the game goes online, five years from now, your thing evaporates.

But you at least realize that well, for five years, I’m having fun with this thing.

And it’s, you know, no more or less a waste of my money than a magazine or, you know, some other junk from the gas station.

It’s worth doing.

And yeah, industries can be built around it.

But yeah, bundling the financial transaction system, you know, to what you’re trying to sell just serves to confuse and make things even more, you know, put the general public, give them a fear of touching it, because it’s just another place where they might look stupid, so they’re going to run away.

Christopher Penn 18:47

Exactly.

So I’d say, wrapping up or in terms of what brands should be thinking about now today and preparing for the metaverse a, obviously keep an eye on what the different options are in all these different virtual worlds.

And you know, typical social media play if you have an ability to register your brand’s trademark and handle AUC just go do that.

That’s kind of a no brainer.

And then I think the content creation aspect is where brands have an opportunity to be early without taking risk, right? Recording your conference sessions, something under 60 video and loading them into YouTube.

Because YouTube supports 360 degree video, that’s a no brainer, right? It’s Yes, it’s resource intensive to compare it to shooting a video on your smartphone.

But it lets you get out there that lets the content be available when you load up, for example, the YouTube app inside the Oculus headset.

The 360 degree videos are the ones that are are prioritized because they want you to be able to use the full experience.

So if your brand is putting up stuff in there on YouTube anyway, it will automatically be more likely to be featured in the virtual world.

Then then illustrates standard video creating, if you have the ability, and you have people who are good at creating spatial audio experiences, I think there’s a huge cottage industry just like there is for B roll.

And stock photos and stock video, I think is a huge untapped market for stock 360 and stock, spatial audio sounds.

So if you’ve got the gear to do it, go out and create that content.

You could license it either for money as a revenue stream, or just as a promotional thing like, Hey, here’s birdsong and 360, right with spatial audio, and anyone who needs to remix that for virtual environment, they can get it from you and from your brand.

And any other content, if you have stuff like 3d spleens and and you’ve done some work with like 3d printers, and things, all those, those data files have benefit, because again, they can be ported and changed formats.

And then made available to people who are building in these different metal versus those are all to me, like seems like easy ways, in easy ways for you to get known for this stuff.

But without taking a lot of risk.

What do you think, what are some of the other easy things that that brands should be thinking about what they could do today?

John Wall 21:14

Yeah, shooting, you know, 360 video just to try and do it, especially if you’ve got some kind of product, or experience that, you know, you can show what it’s like to ride in a boat, or to wear these kinds of clothing or whatever, and have a completely better way to do that.

And then I’ve been playing around with spatial audio a little bit, I’m starting to, you know, dip my toes into the water there.

And it is just amazing.

I mean, it’s, the sound is a full leap up over everything else that’s out there now.

And but the question is, you know, who’s willing to pay for it? Who cares? And, and it’s Yeah, I don’t know, we’re gonna hit a point where either headsets or monitors that are so huge that you’re fully immersed in, that’s when that spatial audio becomes next level, because like you said, if you’re showing your, your last keynote, and the sound is just basically mono rates coming from a single point, that’s not a big deal, until you start turning around in the 360 environment, and you don’t feel like you’re there.

But for things where it’s entertainment, or, you know, you’re trying to really get across being in another environment, spatial audio is what’s going to kick it up to the next level.

So yeah, I think it is, it’s just like, find one of the things that you want to play with, if you have any interest in gaming, obviously go over there, because there’s going to be a huge demand for talent over there.

When that comes around.

There’s huge demand for talent there now, and it’s only going to get worse.

But yeah, this is the time to play around with the toys and at least just try and figure out how to make it work.

It’s the kind of the fun part of it.

Christopher Penn 22:44

Yeah, and I would say also, for marketers individually, get some experience being in a virtual world, sign up for a Minecraft account, you know, it’s like 26 bucks for the client, and then just play around and just get a sense of what it’s like to, to operate inside a persistent virtual environment.

Play World of Warcraft for a month play Call of Duty plays something where there’s a world that stays on whether or not you’re in it, Roblox, things like that.

So that you can see all the different mechanisms there, because there’s always things like chat, voice chat, there’s communities, groups, guilds, tribes, different regions, and maps and things.

Because all those basic navigational skills will be things that you will need to understand.

So that when your brand opens up, its you know, pop up shop or whatever on the virtual Fifth Avenue, you you will know, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect, you’ll you’ll know that for example, flying body parts without a person attached to them can is a possibility in it, particularly in an unmoderated system, or people leaving virtual graffiti can be a potential problem.

So if you don’t know and don’t have experiences in virtual environments, you’re going to be at a disadvantage for for competitors who do.

John Wall 24:02

Yeah, yeah, and same thing with all the supporting communities that come around that stuff, you know, discord and Twitch.

And however else people are communicating, if they don’t have active chat, if that’s not the main way that they’re communicating, learning about how that stuff works is we’ll give you more tools for when you do have to go down that road with your own brand.

Christopher Penn 24:21

Exactly.

And the last thing I would suggest is a lot of these technologies you’re probably looking at, I can’t say for sure, but you ever you’re probably looking at like five years at least down the road before and it’s not clear who the winner will be.

I know there’s companies like Facebook making a lot of noise about it, but there’s nothing that says you know, their platform that’s so killer that declares the preemptive winner, but this is the time to start cultivating talent now.

Right? If you are, if you seriously believe that there’s legs to this thing and that your your sector of the industry will be impacted sooner rather than later, like accounting firms probably not going to be huge in the metaverse immediately.

But entertainment firms 100% will be will be back sooner rather than later, you should be cultivating talent.

Now you should be looking at incubators, funding courses, looking at feeder programs out of high schools and colleges and universities to see okay, who can you know, what kind of talent is being created for this now? What are the skills that are likely going to be needed? Like, you know, 3d experience? And do we have talent pipelines for that, you know, anywhere on our roadmap, and if you don’t, and you think that it’s going to be a thing, this is the time to start doing it, because by the time the need arises, that talents can be crazy overpriced, and you’re gonna get locked out of the market.

But if you’ve got a feeder program, say at the local university, that you’re sponsoring as a brand, guess who they’re going to work for first?

John Wall 25:55

Yeah, right.

Or even get to the point where you have a lab where people can come play with this stuff, because I’m sure and we already know that, as you’ve proven with your video, that it’s going to be a huge hardware commitment.

So if you’ve got a place for somebody to dig in and play with this stuff, that’s a great way to get the community built around your own, you know, your own organization.

Christopher Penn 26:14

Exactly.

So lots of early opportunities for forward thinking brands to start playing with this stuff without you know, throwing down millions of dollars, and you will still generate usable content.

Even if the metaverse never comes to pass.

You know, having these these technologies in market now and creating virtual things.

Certainly is is going to be useful for your brand.

So give that stuff a try.

If you’ve got comments or questions or things that you’re trying in what a war virtual worlds and you want to talk about or share it pop on over to our free slack group go to trust insights.ai/analytics for marketers, where you have over 2500 other marketers are asking and answering each other’s questions every day.

We don’t have virtual avatars yet, but we do have some great conversations that wherever it is that you watch or listen to the show.

If there’s a platform you’d rather have it on visit trust insights.ai/t AI podcast where you can find us on almost every major platform.

Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll talk to you next week.


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