Meta Hypes Numerous Benefits of Metaverse for Advertising

Meta Platforms’ Vishal Shah told attendees of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual leadership meeting that the brave new virtual world his company is conjuring will offer vast opportunities for marketing and promotion without the physical constraints of real estate leases, supply chain snags and geographic inconvenience. Appearing virtually, Shah revved the engines at “The Road to the Metaverse” tour, promising brands an exciting ride, albeit one that may take 10 years to hit cruising speed. Meta is stepping on the gas to get there, investing $11 billion in its Reality Labs VR unit last year. 

As per Meta’s Q4 presentation, Reality Labs generated just over $2.1 billion in revenue for what is still largely an R&D arm, earning through sales of its Meta Quest (formerly Oculus Quest) headsets, used mainly by gamers but also for sport, fitness and other immersive activities. IDC estimates Quest headsets sold “between 5.3 million and 6.8 million” units in 2021, according to The Wall Street Journal.

While Meta didn’t break out headset unit sales, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the Q4 call that “we’re seeing real traction with Quest 2.” IDC concurred, noting that the Quest “has singlehandedly driven growth in the market as the company managed to capture almost two thirds share of global VR headset shipments” for Q1 2021, the most recent report publicly released.

This year, Meta is expected to release a next-generation headset, which some expected to be branded Quest 3, but TechRadar writes may be “a completely new headset IP, designed to introduce users to groundbreaking VR technology” with which Meta will drive users to the metaverse.

Developed under the codename Project Cambria, TechRadar speculates it may be marketed as the Meta Quest Pro, “a high-end virtual reality and augmented reality hybrid headset,” aimed and priced “for the pro and enthusiast end of the mixed-reality market.”

“Cambria will include capabilities that currently aren’t possible on other VR headsets. New sensors in the device will allow your virtual avatar to maintain eye contact and reflect your facial expressions,” TechCrunch wrote in October, when Zuckerberg discussed Cambria at Facebook Connect.

“Another focus of the headset will be mixed-reality experiences. With the help of new sensors and reconstruction algorithms, Facebook claims Cambria will have the capability to represent objects in the physical world with a sense of depth and perspective,” TechCrunch added.

While waiting for the metaverse to arrive, Shah urged members of the advertising community to experiment with the augmented reality ads on Facebook and Instagram. “Everything you’re doing now across our apps will benefit you in this metaverse future,” Shah is quoted by Reuters as telling the IAB.

The executive showcased what Reuters described as “holographic avatars fencing and playing basketball” and touted a post-Super Bowl concert featuring the Foo Fighters in Meta’s Horizon Venues virtual space, and discussed a partnership with the NFL “that allows users to outfit their VR avatars with team jerseys as an experiment in digital goods.”

Ad Age reports that Meta will on Sunday premiere its first ad for the re-branded Meta Quest 2 during Super Bowl LVI. The company last week released a teaser for the spot.

Game On: Should Brands Pay Attention to Advertising in the Metaverse?, The Drum, 2/7/22

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