Meta Introduces “Third Screen” to Brand Marketers at Place 2022

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Everyone’s talking about the metaverse. What does it really mean, and what impact will the metaverse have on local commerce over the next decade?

The topic loomed large at the Place 2022 conference in New York City last week, where Meta’s Matthew Christensen explored how businesses are innovating within the metaverse in a keynote address.

Just 11 months after Facebook announced its next step into the metaverse and rebranded to Meta, the company is already working closely with a number of global brands to develop multi-location approaches designed to reach consumers on both the national and local levels.

While the bulk of the metaverse is being experienced through two-dimensional apps, that could soon change. 

Christensen anticipates that in the coming years, more brands will build bridges from Meta’s apps to create virtual three-dimensional experiences and host social events using VR headsets in Horizon Worlds, Meta’s social platform. Immersive experiences will deliver value to consumers, even without physical proximity. 

“The implications for what could come are amazing, but that truly is five to 10 years away,” he says.

On the more immediate horizon, Christensen sees widespread adoption of virtual reality wearables having a major impact on how marketers reach consumers within the metaverse. VR sunglasses, like Ray-Ban Stories Smart Glasses, are already available. However, they will likely become ubiquitous over the next five years, displaying information right to the user’s eyes. Wearers will be able to see details about buildings as they walk around a city, or nutritional information when they shop at a grocery store.

“The dream is, if you have things like Celiac disease, and things like that, your glasses will be able to identify, ‘Don’t eat this if you’re allergic to X,’” Christensen says. “So [many] implications can come from these augmented worlds.” 

Adoption of Horizon World

The future of the metaverse, as Meta sees it, hinges on widespread adoption of the company’s Horizon Worlds social platform. Often described as “OG-Facebook on Quest headsets,” Horizon is an open platform world where anyone can build anything they want. 

Currently, the No. 1 most visited world in Horizon Worlds is Meta Court, where people can navigate virtual courtrooms to find solutions to actual problems they are having. Christensen says interest in Meta Court, and similar worlds, points to a bigger theme within Horizon, which is that people want to feel connected to the people and communities around them. Understanding that desire could be the key that brand marketers are looking for as their metaverse strategies evolve.

Bringing Value to Clients

As a client partner in Global Marketing Solutions at Meta, Christensen is tasked with finding innovative ways to bring the metaverse to life for multi-location brand clients, like the fast-food chain Wendy’s. 

Christensen worked with Wendy’s to launch the company’s first branded VR experience in the Horizon Worlds platform—dubbed Wendyverse—earlier this year. Wendy’s sees its virtual experience as a unique marketing opportunity designed to foster deep engagement among the company’s youngest customers. Wendyverse also provides Wendy’s with a chance to interact with customers and other brands in ways that aren’t possible through more traditional marketing channels.

As brands invest more deeply in the metaverse, Christensen says there’s great opportunity in providing consumers with spaces to be “live together.” Watching sporting events in virtual group settings and participating in collaborative events in real-time with Instagram Live is an emerging trend that brand marketers should watch. 

Meta recently used Horizon Venues to build a virtual NBA world to celebrate the NBA Finals. Fans were able to watch NBA games on two-dimensional screens using VR headsets, while also having competitions with their friends and interactions with fellow fans simultaneously.

Christensen says a recent merging between Horizon Venues and Horizon Worlds means that brands that build their own venues can now put those venues into custom worlds. 

“For Wendy’s, for example, they partnered with iHeart Radio, [and] they are going to have a lot of their concert series streaming within the Wendyverse in the near future,” Christensen says. “It’s almost like making a third screen for your clients to have access to.”

While most discussion around VR centers around gaming technology, Christensen says the implications for VR within the metaverse go much further. He sees the metaverse driving value for people, by driving value for business. The two parts go hand in hand. In the metaverse, brands aren’t speaking down to consumers; they’re working with them and encouraging users to participate in immersive experiences that they actually want to be a part of.

“You don’t have to jump right into a Wendyverse. I think you need to test with some of the more solidified technologies like AR right now before going into something like VR,” Christensen says. “I don’t think folks … understand how easy it is to implement some of your brands into AR… but I also think you need to take a holistic look and say, ‘Does my community, does my customer want this?’ In the case of Wendy’s it was a no brainer. I think you need to take a hard look at where your brand can fit in the metaverse but understand it doesn’t have to be this full-fledged, out-of-the-gate execution.”

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.