The metaverse is coming, and online magazine publishers are preparing for change.
Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement that Facebook would be changing its name to Meta and entering the next phase of the internet, dubbed the metaverse, was not a surprise to those in the tech community. The metaverse is seen as the next step in the rapidly expanding online world.
The term “metaverse” was coined in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel, Snow Crash. In the book, the metaverse is a shared imaginary place that’s available to the public over the “worldwide fiber-optics network” and projected onto virtual reality goggles.
In Facebook’s metaverse, people will interact via digital avatars in an online world that combines social media, online gaming, augmented reality, virtual reality, and even digital publishing. People, and their digital avatars, will work, play, shop, attend classes, and more in an entirely virtual setting. The metaverse is the sum of all virtual worlds, which means consumers will be sharing spaces and siloed apps will be a thing of the past.
In the metaverse, everyone will have an avatar. Meta has plans to develop services, experiences, and hardware especially for this new world. Video game companies are already building their own metaverse platforms. Magazine publishers will have a place in the metaverse, as well, even if their specific role hasn’t been defined quite yet.
Publishers React to the Metaverse
Reaction to Facebook’s announcement has been mixed within the online publishing community. Some industry analysts see the metaverse announcement as an important step toward mainstream players fully embracing virtual reality and augmented reality concepts. Many others see this as a distraction from Facebook’s ongoing public relations issues.
Regardless of which side you come down on, it’s clear that the metaverse presents some impressive opportunities for online magazine publishers.
As always, early adopters stand to reap the greatest rewards. Online magazine publishers that embrace the metaverse will see massive opportunities for engagement and advertising revenue.
Opportunities for Publishers in the Metaverse
Facebook, Snapchat, Microsoft, Epic Games, Roblox, and Nike are just a few of the big name brands that have already taken steps into the metaverse. Gucci and Nike are creating virtual communities with fashion and other assets for sale. In the coming weeks, it’s likely we will hear about some digital-first media organizations getting involved in developing new content, communities, and experiences, as well. Gaming is likely to play a big role, and there is a good chance we will see magazine publishers partnering with gaming platforms on branding and other elements that will put their publications inside virtual games.
In the future, publishers will sell subscriptions to consumers who’ve already connected to Meta’s seamless payments system. Converting readers into subscribers will become much easier.
Magazines themselves will fundamentally change, as publishers take better advantage of virtual reality hardware. Interactive experiences will become more important, and publishers who make the transition stand to see big rewards.
Imagine a home design magazine that takes readers inside luxury homes via virtual reality tours. Or, imagine a sports magazine that can put readers courtside at virtual games and matches. In this new universe, a digital avatar could show up at their virtual workspace and pull out the latest edition of a city magazine to read while they wait for their coworkers to arrive.
It’s taken decades for the internet to get to where it is today, and Mark Zuckerberg’s vision won’t appear overnight. However, with experts already predicting that nearly 59 million people in the United States will use virtual reality at least once a month this year (17% of the total U.S. population), change is clearly coming. Magazine publishers should be looking ahead at how they can get involved.
As artificial intelligence, 5G, and edge cloud processing make it easier for publishers to deliver VR experiences across connected devices, the cost/benefit ratio will change. Joining the metaverse will eventually become a necessity for top magazine publishers.
The Big Questions
How will people discover content in the metaverse? What role will search algorithms play?
Already, it’s becoming clear that having the keyword “metaverse” in a headline or product title is helpful for getting found on search and social channels. Publishers that want to stake their claim will likely start developing products tied to the metaverse tag, as well.
metaHowever, big questions still remain over how content strategies will evolve and what impact the metaverse will have on local SEO. How will independent publishers fare in the metaverse? What role will visual search play in rankings? What about social media?
Now is the time for magazine publishers to audit their content strategies and look for opportunities for integrating virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D experiences for online audiences.
To learn more about preparing your website for the metaverse, contact Web Publisher PRO today.