Valuations of the metaverse have mostly been in the trillions, yet with so many core details still marked unknown, the breakdown is difficult to legitimately quantify.
As more money gets funneled into the metaverse, Web 3.0, the next, more three-dimensional iteration of the internet, may become more of a reality -- one in which worldwide users are able to experience interconnected virtual worlds and synchronized communication in real-time.
Brands have already begun to develop their own metaverses and sponsor virtual experiences in virtual-world platforms like Decentraland and Roblox.
But for marketers, one major question remains: how do we effectively measure advertising performance in the metaverse?
Frank Zazza, known as the father of product placement, spoke with Digital News Daily about the evolution of advertising measurement, his own plans for Web 3.0, and what brands
and marketers should expect for the future.
Zazza made his name by inserting Reese’s Pieces in Spielberg’s “E.T” and Junior Mints in “Seinfeld,” among 10,000 other TV and film placements.
In 2018, Zazza became the registered inventor of the iTVX product placement measurement patent, and has recently registered provisional patents for virtual measurement in the metaverse.
MediaPost: Should brands prepare for Web 3.0 like they did for Web 1.0 and Web 2.0?
Frank Zazza: When the internet started, brands may not have known about websites, yet they still decided to sell their products online. Well, Web 3.0 might be the same thing.
Brands may not know much about the metaverse, but maybe they're saying, “If every other brand is doing it, we better have a metaverse for our brand.” Everything is going to enter virtual worlds. Brands will continue to create their own metaverses, environments, games, etc.
MP: How will brand preparation differ from those early internet days?
FZ: Brands will now have to entertain -- otherwise they won't get people returning.
I can see every website being a metaverse, but more playable -- for example, a virtual store with blinking products you can click on to uncover coupons. Make it more of a game. All of this is measurable -- brands can track coupons and downloads.
Even if it becomes just an elaborate website, at least every dollar that they're spending is going back in their own pockets.
They can measure and build in parameters -- a shopping spree, coupon distribution etc.
They can't go wrong. I don't think there will be one brand that won't have a metaverse presence.
MP: How will advertising measurement differ in the metaverse?
FZ: The measurements of what we’re going to be looking for are going to be completely different from the measurements on linear: ROI, click-through-rates, value, etc.
What we're going to measure in the metaverse is going to be more of the avatar's experience, the engagements that will happen, and some of the emotions via virtual headsets with eye-tracking technology.
In the metaverse, you don't have the opportunities you do on linear TV –– to play back something and view it. So you can't measure it in real-time. The complexity has gotten out of hand, but hopefully what I am creating addresses that.
MP: How would that work?
FZ: I've come up with a method to analyze data that has been recorded using reverse-modeling, that takes data points to build a simulated model of what transpired. By looking at the simulated model, you can analyze and do what is being done in virtual TV.
MP: What will be the biggest challenge for ad measurement in Web 3.0?
FZ: In the metaverse, everyone will have their own way of doing things. But no one owns the metaverse, including Meta. What will be important moving forward is standardization.
Metaverse advertising began with virtual billboards.
But not everyone can come up with their own metaverse, have billboards, and then measure them themselves. Measuring factors like engagement, emotion, experience, and recall is not yet quantitative.
All companies and platforms are doing now is selling billboards for a two- or three-month span and measuring performance based on how many avatars walk past.
That’s not enough. You need to know the viewability of the billboard for true measurement. My system measures the viewer's journey.
Think of it as radar. There is a certain level where an avatar will be aware of a billboard, and as they go by, the radar picks them up in zones. It's all based on the time it takes for them to get from one end of the billboard to the other.
MP: Are there other challenges?
FZ: At first, the data stored in the metaverse will not be sharable with the advertiser. Like ITVX, my system will plug into everyone else's system and generate a standardized metric of the viewer's journey, allowing the advertiser to pay on performance.
MP: How do you think advertising will progress in Web 3.0?
The IAB is going to get more involved in accreditation with the MRC. Advertisers want some form of accreditation. But no one knows how to measure it yet.
I believe that measuring product placement or virtual ads in the metaverse is a learning process. You can't have it as a single built-in unit. It's got to be monetized by third-parties so that advertisers can log in and say “That's great / That's not great; This worked / This didn't work.”
As we continue onward, we need to start slow; we can't measure everything because we don't know what to measure in the first place. We're years away from anything being in scale.
As it materializes, you're going to have an evolution of your metrics of what advertisers need with their learning solutions and understandings to move forward and how they're going to get results to increase sales.
MP: What do you think of the value companies are applying to the metaverse?
FZ: Where do they take these numbers from? They start talking trillions...CitiBank is talking $4 trillion!
Is the metaverse here? Yes. Is it here to stay? Yes.
There is too much invested in it by too many of the big companies not to have it. However, there's not enough being put into the monetization aspect.
That's what’s important. It's not who has the best game in the world -- Mindcraft, Roblox, Fortnite -- that's simple. Even if they have the ability to throw virtual advertising in their games, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
MP: So what is the future of the metaverse?
FZ: No one has a solution, but moving forward, standardization will be the major factor, and what gets measured will be bought.
If it can't be measured, advertisers are not going to buy it. So no matter how beautiful they make the metaverse, it doesn't matter.
The future of measurement in the metaverse will be precedented on the virtual advertising that's happening now in linear, but it will be a constant evolvement toward a formal standardization.
It's whoever has the ability to mold what's taking place into a form of standardization that's acceptable to advertisers to simply understand. A media buyer wants to press a button and know their ROI.
MP: Do you expect to be a pioneer of the metaverse in the same way you were deemed a pioneer of product placement?
FZ: Without a doubt. In the measurement department, absolutely.