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Sponsorship Activation in the Metaverse: Exploring Virtual Worlds

by | February 28, 2024

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  • The Sponsorship Collective has worked with over 1000 clients from every property type all over North America and Europe, working with properties at the $50,000 level to multi-million dollar campaigns, events and multi-year naming rights deals
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The forward march of technology demands that sponsorship keeps up, and keep up they have. How else can you explain how RFID, VR, and AI technology have made themselves nice and cozy in today’s high-profile sponsorships?

There’s another rising trend I have yet to discuss on the blog, and that’s the metaverse. 

Like many industries have found their home in the metaverse, sponsorship has as well. It’s quite an interesting corner of the metaverse, if you ask me. 

If you’re planning an all-digital event in 2024 and want to jump into the metaverse both feet first, I applaud you for your ambition. You should get a lot of good out of the insights I have to share today.

And if you’re new to the metaverse and trying to decide how or if it slots into your sponsorship plans, you should also stay tuned. 

What in the World Is the Metaverse, Anyway?

I’m sure you at least have a passing knowledge of the metaverse. After all, it’s been impossible to be online or offline and not hear someone talk about it. 

You might have nodded your head knowingly just to move the conversation along. In truth, you don’t quite understand the metaverse. 

Well, let me help you! 

The metaverse is an alternate world that lives on the internet. Like our world, it has daily occurrences and is always changing and evolving. 

In the metaverse, you can create an avatar, or digital representation of yourself, and live an alternate 3D life. You can finally become an astronaut or marry your high school sweetheart. Well, digitally, anyway. 

The concept of the metaverse is admittedly bigger than what reality has achieved. The ultimate goal would be to create an immersive 3D world with virtual reality components. We’re not quite there yet.

Instead, we’ve gotten video-game-like representations of the metaverse, like the Facebook Metaverse.

Yet despite that we have yet to tap into the full potential of the metaverse, it’s already ripe for the picking with sponsorship opportunities aplenty. 

How Does Sponsorship Fit Into the Metaverse?

The metaverse is a brand-new frontier for businesses. Many have flocked to it readily, especially platforms like Roblox, The Sandbox, and Decentraland. Yes, these are games, but they’re the closest we have to a functioning metaverse today, so they’re being wholeheartedly embraced.

Just look at Dencentraland. This 3D universe has attracted the likes of Adidas, Domino’s, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Samsung, each of which created its own virtual experience.

That’s not all. The Australian Open and NFL have gotten onboard with the metaverse, albeit not necessarily through a platform like Decentraland. For example, the NFL debuted its own version of the metaverse called NFL Zone in Fortnite. 

Warner Music Group created Rhythm City, a musical version of the metaverse, through Roblox. Going back to Decentraland, it even had its own Metaverse Fashion Week, an event it has run for more than two years. 

Are you starting to see where sponsorship can fit into the metaverse? It can occur as event collaborations, brand partnerships, or even new forms we have yet to see. Anything is possible.  

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Benefits of Sponsorship in the Metaverse 

Now that you know there’s a place for you in the metaverse as a sponsorship seeker, you might be considering your opportunities more seriously than ever. If you decide to proceed, here are some advantages you can expect. 

Potentially Less Expensive 

Throwing an event is not cheap, and the costs continue to rise. It’s venue costs more than anything that chew into the largest chunk of your budget. 

One of the biggest benefits of the metaverse is how you don’t have those venue costs to contend with. The metaverse is all 3D, so you can throw an event of whatever caliber you can afford.

Now, the land in the metaverse is not free. People buy and sell virtual real estate with as much passion and vigor as they do real property. You don’t want to encroach on someone’s land with your event plans. 

If you want to buy your own swath of land to make your metaverse dreams come true, that’s always on the table. You need cryptocurrency to do so. 

More Visibility

With an estimated 400 million people on the metaverse, the audience potential is huge. It’s not every day or even close to every day that you get the opportunity to market your company or organization to that many people at once. 

You could never fit 400 million into even the largest event hall, so being able to accommodate that many (or even a fraction of that many) through the metaverse opens many doors to increasing your visibility, leads, conversions, and sales. 

Connect with a Younger Audience

Most metaverse users skew on the younger side, which shouldn’t surprise you. It’s new technology, and the young kids always embrace whatever is new and hot. Up to 80 percent of those 400 million people are under 16. 

If you’ve struggled to connect with a younger audience meaningfully, the metaverse could be your ticket to doing so. 

Convenience 

The convenience factor is not to be overlooked when considering sponsorship in the metaverse. Besides the cost of throwing an event, all the time and planning is difficult. Then you have to find sponsors on top of it. It leaves you with little time and energy.

Investing in the metaverse is more convenient. You don’t need physical assets and activations. You don’t need a physical event space, as mentioned. Your services can be all-digital too. 

Activation Ideas for Sponsorship in the Metaverse

Do you wish you could flex your creative muscle more when compiling activation ideas in your everyday sponsorship opportunities? You will love the metaverse. The digital component introduces much more freedom and flexibility.

Here are some sponsorship services you might provide in this 3D universe. 

Custom Skins

A skin, for those not in the know, is a customized style or item in a video game. For example, if you were playing a Batman game and used an alternate outfit, that’s another skin. 

Slapping your brand and logo on skins is a popular metaverse trend. That said, be sure you’re 100 percent certain what you’re lending your brand name and likeness to. For example, if you create a skin for a death sword in a game, that’s now associated with your brand forever. 

Virtual Storefronts

At the 2022 ComplexLand, a virtual retail event once known as ComplexCon (an in-person event before COVID), Pacsun debuted Pacworld. Pacsun had long teamed up with ComplexCon, but it hadn’t pulled out anything so digitally inventive before. 

Pacworld appeared in The Sandbox, allowing guests to view the latest styles from Pac and even take over store operations in a mall. 

Virtual storefronts are very popular in the metaverse. You can hyperlink to your website through the metaverse so people can buy real goods, or you can keep it all digital. 

Digital Concerts or Events

The Metaverse Fashion Week, which I talked about above, is but one of many digital events. This is one of the biggest uses of 3D universes for sponsorship seekers, as you can throw a digital event of nearly any kind.

Art exhibit? Sure! Fashion show of your own? No problem. Concert or musical? You bet. The list goes on. 

Any type of event you can think of that’s feasible in real life should work in the metaverse, but on an even more grandiose scale. 

Virtual Apparel

Retail brands, pay attention. Virtual apparel is becoming just as covetable as real threads. For instance, as part of Pacworld, virtuale characters could walk around dressed to the nines in Pacsun hoodies, sweatshirts, and more.

Of course, all the clothing has Pacsun’s name branded front and center, just like shopping at the real store. 

Fortnite and luxury fashion brand Balenciaga teamed up for high-luxury fashion in the metaverse. The in-game characters or avatars can wear the clothing, and Balenciaga was even in talks with Epic Games, the producers of Fortnite, to launch a virtual storefront.

It’s much easier for clothing designers to create digital duds than real clothing. There’s no need for seamstresses, models, or runways. Fashion brands can also embrace the fantastical. For example, the Fortnite/Balenciaga deal literally featured a pug wearing a hoodie and a metal-clad robot in cargo shorts. 

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Those kinds of options simply don’t exist in real life and never will. The metaverse allows more design versatility, and, dare I even say it, fun. 

Tips for Embracing Sponsorship in the Metaverse 

As you get your first virtual sponsorship underway, remember these tips. 

Understand That It Won’t Appeal To All Your Sponsors

We all have a stodgy sponsor or two who refuses to get with the times. They probably won’t have any interest in a metaverse opportunity. Even some of your more tech-savvy sponsors might not quite understand it, and those who do might feel wary about it.

That’s understandable. The metaverse is still a giant question mark as the 2020s continue, with a reality that hasn’t quite matched up to what all those sci-fi films portrayed it as. 

Using the metaverse to add value to your sponsorship opportunity and differentiate yourself is a wise move. Shoving it down a sponsor’s throat because it’s your only ace in the hole is not. 

If your prospect isn’t into it, find one who is or pivot away from the metaverse. 

It’s Not a Free-For-All 

Remember, just because it’s digital doesn’t mean there aren’t rules. 

The metaverse’s citizens, so to speak, expect you to respect basic decorum, and vice-versa. If you wouldn’t do it in real life, you shouldn’t do it in the metaverse. That goes for claiming land or anything else. 

I know, it’s not real life, and everything is much more unique and eccentric than what you see IRL, but be a good netizen and you can work your way toward more sponsorship opportunities in the metaverse and beyond. 

Treat It Like Event Sponsorship 

So, now metaverse sponsorship is one more type, right? Not exactly. If you think of it like event sponsorship, you’re already on the right track. 

You can have metaverse media sponsors. They might not be traditional media publishers, but influencers and social media stars with a vast reach. They can talk up your services or products and voila, you’ve got yourself a deal. 

You can even consider a cash sponsor, but keep in mind that you might get paid in crypto rather than cold, hard cash. I could even see in-kind or contra sponsors doing well in the metaverse, perhaps even better than they’d do in real life. 

Since you’re treating it like event sponsorship, that means that for every bit of help or money you get from a partner or sponsor, you must provide something to them. You still need a discovery session, and the whole sponsorship process has to play out just about the way it normally would. 

Set Up a Budget

Although it’s not real, the metaverse isn’t free. People buy digital goods with the same fervor they do material items. Your digital event or limited-edition skins aren’t produced without an expense. 

You must have a budget for metaverse sponsorship just the same as you would for any other type of event. 

Measure Metrics 

On that note, a metaverse sponsorship is like a sponsorship IRL. You still have to track it to ensure you delivered ROI to the sponsor. 

So, what kinds of KPIs are you tracking here? Let’s review some metaverse metrics. 

  • Consumption behavior: What do users do when they’re in the metaverse? This metric tells you. Consumption behavior tracking can include using services or products or listening to music. If you’re trying to better understand your audience, this is an important metric.
  • Attention tracking: What grabs a user’s attention in the metaverse? Attention tracking measures where the average 3D user spends their time, including which areas and objects captivate their attention the most. This can indicate which of your products or services is most popular.
  • Path tracking: Use path tracking to determine which route metaverse users took. If you hold a virtual event and want to know which booths your attendees checked out, path tracking is a must.
  • Participation: You can track the participation rate of each virtual experience you provide at your event in the metaverse, gleaning which ones are popular and which should be rethought and retooled for next time. 
  • Conversions: Has your conversion rate shot up? That’s a likely consequence of your metaverse sponsorship opportunity. 
  • Sales: Likewise, sales should also see a spike. You could even compare digital versus nondigital sales to determine how effective the metaverse sponsorship was. 
  • Email signups: Yes, this is a more traditional metric, but it’s still one to follow. Promoting your metaverse sponsorship via email should lead to an influx of people eager to check it out and gain access. 
  • Social media followers: Likewise, you should see a healthy number of social media followers from your sponsorship. 

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Wrapping Up 

The metaverse is a space just brimming with possibilities. More and more brands are hopping on the bandwagon, eager to promote themselves in this new 3D universe. 

Although the metaverse is still not fully fleshed out, it’s existent enough in its current form that you can use it for sponsorship opportunities. Now is your chance to go crazy with asset and activation ideas, as you’re not bound by the rules of real life. 

While you should have fun in your metaverse sponsorship planning, remember that you can’t throw the traditional sponsorship process aside. You still need to prospect for sponsors, have a discovery session, and value your metaverse opportunity.