Metaverse virtual events: the game changer in digital experience

Alistair Bryan, co-founder at Flox, explains how brands can use the metaverse to communicate, launch products, network or engage with their partners and suppliers.

A woman wearing virtual reality goggles.

Advances in digital and sustainability priorities are rendering the approach of carbon-guzzling in-person events irrelevant, for business or pleasure. The potential impact of in-person events on the environment contradicts every corporate agenda in the room. And the race to create the most advanced digital experiences has marketers scrambling for the best alternative.

There is currently huge demand to re-imagine a live experience in a digital format – connection, collaboration and creativity have never been more important. In fact, Kaltura’s The State of Virtual Events 2022 report reveals that an overwhelming 92% of event organisers hosted virtual events in 2021 and 94% were planning virtual events in 2022. Added to this, 84% of delegates attending in-person events want a virtual option for backup reasons.

Moving from 2D to 3D virtual events

However, while 2D virtual platforms like Zoom can be a basic option, depending on team size, until recently, reaching brand stakeholders and marketers within the business ecosystem – at scale – has not been possible.

But this alternative now exists for the 1.5 billion people that attend events annually, powered by advanced technology – metaverse virtual events. This means that creative leaders can start to think a little differently about how to engage their brand ambassadors, customers and marketing peers and initiate ways that their audiences can absorb information in a more creative way. Metaverse virtual events platforms, such as Flox, are set to revolutionise the events industry with some remarkable digital experiences that change the way we do business forever.

Meeting brand stakeholders’ digital expectations

Creative leaders are not short of challenges as they seek the best channels to communicate brand information and benefits, launch products, network or engage with their partner and supplier ecosystems. According to a study by McKinsey, 59% of consumers are excited about transitioning their everyday activities to the metaverse.

Working in the metaverse is about leveraging our natural human abilities for perception, interaction, and exploration when we engage the creative power and flexibility of digital content. Immersive technologies are exponentially more personal and behavioural and can deliver for today’s information consumers’ expectations. This enables the move from static user content consumption in web and mobile towards content participation in immersive experiences.

 The evolution of virtual events platforms

As digital services evolve – with richer content and more personalisation – static 2D events are becoming irrelevant and leaders are ready and need more immersive and collaborative experiences. Whether as employees or consumers, we crave better connection and insight through digital interactions.

The evolution to something more experiential is leagues away from virtual events like Zoom and Teams which have been helpful in real-time discussion but ultimately hold back collaboration and information sharing. Finally, the next generation of virtual and hybrid technology has arrived to overtake the standard 2D virtual event platforms out there creating a more immersive and engaging experience.

The predicted growth of this industry indicates how ready business is for change to happen. According to GVR, the global virtual events market size was valued at USD 114.12 billion in 2021 and is predicted to reach USD 618 billion by 2030.  The most advanced metaverse virtual events platform can help marketers explore different ways to market, and stay in control of budgets, while meeting growing ESG expectations. Flox recently saved a Fortune 100 US FMCG business over 300 metric tonnes of CO2 for a global event.

The realisation of metaverse virtual events platforms marks a new era in collaboration, and it’s a pivotal moment for business to embrace change, new ways of working and experience the best of today’s boundary-pushing technology.

Today’s metaverse virtual events platforms offer event managers, organisations and brands a three-dimensional web – or ‘metaverse’- experience to help create the most human virtual and hybrid live events that will revolutionise the way we do business. The powerful, easy-to-use and immersive platform allows participants to access a virtual 3D event experience where information can be easily experienced, captured, and shared for boundless collaboration, in limitless languages.

The 3D experience

By experiencing in 3D rather than 2D, using their own avatar, participants can immerse themselves in information, in real time, in any language, as well as navigate an event in the same way they would on foot, attend break-out and one-to-one sessions.  A global FMCG business for instance can execute a more effective marketing kick-off, a common annual scenario for many marketing teams.

From a marketing perspective, this elevates the working experience to way beyond that of in-person or limited video calls. Instead of the standard marketing toolkit email-out, hundreds of execs can simultaneously interact with members of their entire global team over a two-day event, collaborating on their plans for the year ahead. This can include innovation talks, explanations about the plans, Q&A and break-out sessions.

Digital avatars and environments not only create a highly engaging way to meet and interact with peers and colleagues but also eliminate the pain-points around screen exhaustion, zoom etiquette or concerns over personal appearance or physical surroundings.

Avatars give the feeling that you are truly inside the virtual world rather than the real world. Here you can feel like you are actually in the same space with your peers. The sensation of realism creates an engaging immersive environment ideal for learning.

They also provide a ‘shield’ so users can safely participate. Through interacting with other avatars successfully, learners gain self-confidence and a sense of achievement, both of which foster more independent learning.

Benefits of metaverse virtual events

Metaverse virtual events can enable brands to simplify and advance their events strategies and realise the power of digital communication – all while meeting their ESG objectives. Fully scalable, Flox can save over 85% of the cost of hosting an in-person event and minimise the CO2 impact of business events.

Choosing a platform that’s accessibility-first also matters. The ability to shape and craft digital worlds that are more inclusive, accessible and give us chances to learn and engage in more heterogeneous ways offers the chance to build more diverse and wider communities in new and exciting ways, whether it’s a new product launch, global marketing team event or employee learning experience.

Diversity and inclusion in events can also be improved, with new, enhanced experiences that incorporate interactive digital storytelling, personalisation and adaptability. For instance, this immediately improves the attractiveness of attending events for neurodiverse people.

Participants automatically become more engaged and involved than with 2D events – In a study of medical students, short 360° videos were more engaging for learners than 2D videos.

And the potential for measuring the success and ROI of metaverse virtual events is huge. Powerful platforms, such as Flox, can enable the platform manager to measure positive outcomes in terms of factors like content consumption, as well as quantifying the carbon consumption of an equivalent in-person event that has been saved. It can also provide much deeper insights into event participants’ behaviour.

Better for participants, brands and the planet

Of course, there’s always a time and a place for an in-person event, and virtual events are not destined to replace everything we do. However, the boundless opportunity and productivity gains for business mean that a virtual event which is as close as possible to attending in person offers huge advantages. A wide variety of use cases look set to move to metaverse virtual platforms, including conferences, summits, exhibitions, trade shows, product launches, networking events, internal communications and concerts and performances.

Those that are slow to embrace and enter the new metaverse ways of working won’t simply get left behind in the digital realm, but will find themselves left out of the new world. Rather than being something to be afraid of, the metaverse is the natural next frontier in how we live and work – humans were designed to experience and explore life in multifaceted ways. With some understanding about how it can work for their organisation, it’s easy to see how these real, live and immersive experiences, in multiple languages, are the future for creative information consumption, for sales and marketing goals, and for the planet.

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