Gaming has become one of the primary ways millions of people globally spend their time. We spoke to Kaare Wesnaes, Head of Innovation at Ogilvy in New York, to explore where and how the industry will use this form of media to reach more consumers.
With so many forms of digital media, and new ones always on the horizon, how do you determine which way of pushing content is the most viable?
You have to know your audience. Gamers, for example, are generally quite skeptical and can be fickle when reacting to advertising content being pushed on them. We look for angles to insert brands in authentic and unexpected ways that have meaningful context. By creating experiences worth talking about, the approach is naturally earned-first. There is also a question of reach, inclusion, and accessibility, where some media like VR is still relatively exclusive, but AR and other areas less so. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but the most viable ways of pushing content are those that identify compelling solutions which address the business challenges and brand purpose while respecting the community. The best solutions are highly creative and highly usable.
How does the boundless framework of the metaverse make it appealing for brands and marketers to get involved in this new form of media?
The introduction of the metaverse allows for completely new ways of engaging and interacting with consumers. Many brands find it daunting as it incorporates a spectrum of new ways of thinking and use often unfamiliar tech, yet there’s ample room for experimentation. We are deeply ingrained in what is happening, what brands and consumers are doing, while anticipating how the space is likely to develop and what’s to come next. It is important to understand the different opportunities the various virtual worlds and experiences offer, and what the communities are doing in the different spaces. New audiences, engagement models, and the beginning of a brand-new digital economy make this particularly intriguing.
What plans does Ogilvy have to expand its reach into the metaverse?
Ogilvy has a specialist global practice that focuses on exploring the metaverse and its associated technologies. We are multi-disciplinary and ingrained with our creative teams, making sure that creativity and insights are strongly woven together. We have helped create and drop new NFT series, are building in virtual real estate, developed groundbreaking AR and VR experiences, and found ways to extend brands into a variety of gaming platforms. We view the metaverse as a natural extension of services into new media spaces with new opportunities and evolving consumer behaviors. The metaverse, and all that it has to offer, is a hyper-growth space that is quite necessary to plan for in collaboration with our brand partners. It is paramount to our role as client counselors to help them navigate this space which is still quite nascent. It means seeing around corners in a rapidly growing space full of new audiences and a wealth of opportunities to engage.
In what ways can the increase in virtual presence lead to more successful campaigns and what would a virtual space allow you to do that traditional media hasn’t?
The virtual spaces blend the physical and digital worlds, merging real and digital life. The metaverse allows for social interactions and connections on a deeper level. It is a shared experience that can take place anytime, anywhere, and in real-time. Crossing from IRL to virtual worlds allows us to have assets and utility converge into experiences that are exciting, entertaining, and offer real value. A successful virtual presence will plan for an always-on approach that evolves over time and brings people together across geographic locations and time zones.
How do you anticipate the metaverse shaping new forms of brand storytelling?
As technologies advance and hardware becomes less of a barrier, the metaverse allows for fuller and more immersive experiences. We can virtually insert our audiences into the stories with immersive storytelling. Virtual influencers, digital humans, and AI avatars can become new characters within a communications medium, and we can choreograph their performances, making them emotionally and situationally aware. Storytelling can come to life in unobtrusive ways where people can engage and ask questions without fear of embarrassment or guilt, no matter what the topic may be. As you truly are a character in the interactive story, storytelling can become even more emotionally engaging, and brands can position themselves as a positive influence in the space.
Given the interactive nature of these virtual spaces, how do you see this affecting the way consumers consume and engage with advertisements?
Advertising will have to be a lot more seamless and authentic in these spaces. While display media is absolutely possible in virtual worlds, using old paradigms for advertisements are unlikely to be very successful. They don’t align well with how people engage with virtual media; on the contrary, it could receive very negative feedback from the skeptical audiences found in the crypto and gaming worlds. We advise our clients to not advertise in the metaverse but spend their budget on creating services and experiences instead, which show a far better understanding of the culture and values of the users in this space. Advertisers should look to create engaging interactive experiences that allow users to participate in the world, and not simply create static content on virtual real-estate.