Brands go all out for content integration in Gaming and Metaverse

It is being seen that agencies have started receiving more queries from brands on how can they make integrations in gaming and Metaverse. sat down with experts to understand why they matter to the brands

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Content creators and agencies are seeing an increase in brands demanding ideas for content integrations in gaming and Metaverse.

While brand integrations and content initiatives across mediums have been a norm, recently it is seen that agencies have started receiving more queries from brands on how they can make the most of brand integrations in gaming and Metaverse.

Shailja Saraswati

According to Shailja Saraswati, Chief Content Officer, Omnicom Media Group, India, the future of media and entertainment will largely involve the use of hyperreal and immersive technology that makes use of the Metaverse. Communities are already moving towards experiences that are beyond the ordinary and rooted in the digital realm. Consequently, brands do not want to be left behind in the race and just like they are geared up for digital transformation, they are doing the same for Web 3.0.

Hari Krishnan

Hari Krishnan, Managing Director and Head of Publicis Content, said, “Interestingly, for us at Publicis Content, we are seeing rising interest in queries from brands for initiatives around virtual gaming, platforms such as Decentraland, Discord and Sandbox; and NFTs owing to this emerging Metaverse subculture - albeit small numbers right now, but watching the innovators play in this space is helping brands learn significantly about this space.”

“We are seeing growing interest in kids with Roblox, an example of where an advanced version of the Metaverse experience is represented - brands are eager to see how they can participate in this space. Innovator brands that are ahead of the curve are experimenting with ideas for the metaverse with a ‘test and learn' approach, which is also the reason why budgets allocated are not significantly high,” he added.

Karthik Nagarajan

There is an extraordinary buzz around the word metaverse, virtual gaming and Web3, as per Karthik Nagarajan, Chief Content Officer – Wavemaker India and Head - Branded Content, GroupM. He said, “There is a lot of renewed interest in gaming and metaverse space and at Wavemaker, we always try to stay much ahead of the curve. Seeing the excitement among the clients around the metaverse space we are talking to them about this space and are providing new opportunities to them”

“We are helping the brands and the clients to move forward in this space. Brands like ITC and Absolut by Pernod Ricard Group are the early adopters of web3 and metaverse because they were willing to experiment here.”

Metaverse is the convergence of the physical and digital realms and will be powered by technology. Considering it is still in its infancy, it will take close to a decade to seep into various aspects of life and industries. 

For brands, this is still experimental as it will need to be measured for feasibility before it can be integrated into services. Without some crucial case studies, it is difficult to assess the impact of the Metaverse.

Similarly, Saraswati said, “Our brands have a high level of interest in tech-enabled solutions but a limited understanding of gaming and the metaverse. At the moment, they are going through a learning phase and are forming guidelines and policies for it.”

As this space stands right now, brands must invest in brand personas, intellectual properties and consumer experiences, before they explore the Metaverse and jump on the bandwagon of ‘I am first!’, according to Saraswati.

While brands will need the web3 tech ecosystem, they will also need to introduce a well-thought-out purpose and create a strong narrative around their brand identity. That cannot be manifested via product sales alone and brands need to create experiences that consumers can be deeply engaged with.

Saraswati pointed out that some crucial questions that need to be answered include “Does a digital store make sense for IPs and do they make for better consumer experiences?” and “What would a brand have to do to make it appealing enough for consumers to visit it?”. As is evident by this, it is deeply layered and needs a robust strategy in place before brands can rush into it.

While sharing on the rising interest in queries, Krishnan said, “We are seeing rising interest in queries from brands for initiatives around virtual gaming, platforms such as Decentraland, Discord and Sandbox; and NFTs owing to this emerging Metaverse subculture - albeit small numbers right now, but watching the innovators play in this space is helping brands learn significantly about this space.”

Moreover, brands are wanting to do brand integrations in Metaverse, and gaming because they genuinely want to create something larger than life in the long run and they see a potential here.

Brands inquiring about the Metaverse could have a case of FOMO, but once they evaluate the investment versus returns and risks, they can further explore the possibility, as per experts.

Saraswati is a huge believer in web3 and she thinks there is great potential in it to fundamentally change how most industries will conduct business in the future. However, this is something that needs to be studied closely and brands should steer off clear of Metaverse/NFT-led initiatives without gaining a better understanding of its principles and practical integration into services, according to her.

Krishnan said that they are being approached by clients who wish to better understand this space. He said, “Across our tech, content and data practice, we have teams curating case studies across the Publicis network to address their learning needs. We also observe a certain unstated pressure driving brand teams whose international counterparts do considerable work in the Metaverse. Some of the discussions are based on the genuine interest of wanting to experiment in this space.”

“However, there are expectations from global marketing teams to address the huge opportunity that India holds in terms of affordable data plans across a wide cross-section of consumers as well as the imminent 5G roll out, all this presents a huge canvas for brands to play with platforms and possibilities.”

However, he added that the pace at which innovations are happening can be daunting and the more one can stay informed, the better.

Gaming and metaverse are all new worlds that audiences inhabit and their audiences are also different from other platforms. The demographic audience of gaming in this country is much younger and a lot is happening in the gaming space and integration, noted Nagarajan.

Nagarajan highlighted that brands like Burger King and Mountain Dew are famous for such integration.

Saraswati pointed out that at OMG Content, they see a brand as the sum of all its interactions, not just the siloed experiences. Brands should not rush into adopting the Metaverse as that would undoubtedly spell risk and unmeasurable returns.

“As an innovation that is at a nascent stage in its life cycle, it would be a risky investment with no guarantee of desired outcomes. The road to the Metaverse being fully realised is long and complicated, as it requires technological disruptions on a large scale. However, I am excited about its long-term potential due to the promise of game-changing business models,” said Saraswati.

Krishnan thinks the same about the constantly evolving space, and added that the players have to go beyond consumer insights and platform insights to ‘experience insights.

Krishnan said, “There is a wide range of moments and opportunities that brands can be part of, without disrupting the user’s seamless journey; Brands have to match the immersive quality offered by platforms; as well as play a part in transactions that users are engaged in. The space is nascent; it’s too early to publish a playbook”.

Sharing some of the examples of such initiatives done in India, or around the world, Krishnan mentioned Samsung’s venture in Decentraland, Fruit Loops on Roblox, Kellogg's cereal brand making its metaverse debut with Froot Loops World. Publicis Groupe agency Digitas also organised a K-Pop concert in the Metaverse for Boat.

On the other hand, Saraswati’s favourite is Nike’s acquisition of RTFKT, which includes virtual sneakers and crypto collectables. This also serves as a great case for brands to explore this space, as per her.

Giving a befitting analogy of how the Metaverse is slowly and gradually evolving for brands, Krishnan explained it using the Diffusion of the Innovation curve, brands who are on the cutting edge of innovation are only 2%, followed gradually by the early adopters, early majority and finally the laggards. Similarly, in terms of the allocation of budgets, a similar proportion is perhaps reflected.

“The Metaverse discussion seems to evoke a lot of skepticism, however, no one is substituting online video spending to play in this space. But it will only become bigger,” Krishnan said.

content creators influencers Karthik Nagarajan Wavemaker India GroupM brands Metaverse collaborations Gaming Web3 Shailja Saraswati Omnicom Media Group Hari Krishnan Publicis Content