Archived: Details of Facebook's big metaverse pitch event for advertisers

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Meta execs said brands can be present in the metaverse sooner than expected through things like livestream shopping and virtual sports.

Meta, Facebook, Metaverse, Marketing, Advertising AgenciesReadArchived
  • Facebook parent Meta touted the metaverse in its first formal pitch meeting with advertisers, saying some of its elements were already available.
  • Meta shared how companies could take part in virtual spaces and discussed its plans to develop affordable headsets, attendees said.
  • It also took a swipe at others entering the space, dismissing Disney's efforts as "digital experiences."

Facebook's parent Meta just held its first formal meeting with advertisers to make its metaverse pitch. Its message: The metaverse is closer than you might think.

The meeting was led by Meta's Director of Global Metaverse Business Asher Rapkin, along with ad agency team leads Jason Dailey and Bianca Bradford. About 40 top ad buyers, agency executives, and creators were in attendance. The meeting was virtual, and all questions were submitted and chosen ahead of time.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the metaverse is 5-10 years from mainstream adoption. To three attendees who recapped the meeting, Meta's main goal of the event seemed to be to emphasize that parts of the metaverse are already here.

Execs said related technology like artificial reality is available today, marketers already have opportunities to use it, and widespread adoption could be only a couple of years away, said the attendees, whose identities are known to Insider but requested anonymity, 

Brands are racing to benefit from the metaverse, and many have already launched several initiatives to stake their claim in it.

Meta did not discuss paid advertising products at the event, though, the attendees said ("It was a nice wink before they unleash their sales force on brands," one said).

Instead, the execs suggested that agencies ask their clients how they would take part in a virtualized economy. They described livestream shopping as a metaverse experience, and said that attending real-world sports events through virtual platform Horizon Worlds would most likely be the next big application of the metaverse. They described AR, VR, and mixed reality as three distinct types of metaverses, with Instagram Stories being the first example of the latter.

Creators will be key to introducing the general public to the metaverse, the execs said. They also frequently used the phrase "responsible innovation," listed universities and intellectuals who are consulting to Meta on related projects, and compared skepticism of the metaverse to older generations' skepticism of early internet tools like AOL Instant Messenger.

Meta sought to position itself as the metaverse's preferred operating system and criticized other companies entering the space, characterizing Disney's theme park projects as digital experiences rather than metaverses and suggesting that attendees ask Disney which platform it's using, attendees said.

Other big tech companies including Apple, Google, and Microsoft are working on their own versions of the concept, but key to winning the metaverse is making hardware that'll gain widespread adoption. Google and Apple are making VR and AR headsets, with Apple's reportedly set to cost $3,000.

Meta execs touched on affordability in the meeting. The company talked about its plans to focus on products like smart glasses that make AR objects appear; one attendee recalled hearing Meta saying it would try to develop a headset that costs under $100.

Meta is also considering different ways to deal with harassment and brand safety in the metaverse, such as using polls to remove users deemed toxic and making it easier for users to leave virtual spaces when they feel uncomfortable, another attendee said.

Execs acknowledged that they don't yet know how to address big advertiser concerns, though, such as measuring the results of paid campaigns and identifying users for targeting in a privacy-friendly way.

They also didn't address controversial topics like how Meta would counter deep fakes and AI's reported struggles IDing darker skin tones, though, the attendee said.

A Meta spokeswoman declined to comment.