Metaverse, We Hardly New Ye.

New coke. Google Glass. The Edsel. The business world is littered with products that looked good on paper but failed in the marketplace. And while not technically dead, the digital nirvana hyped by the early adopters of the metaverse appears to be somewhat of a virtual purgatory these days.

So, what went wrong with the Metaverse? The promises, however vague, were intriguing – connecting people to new experiences, radical advances in health and healthcare, deeper, more intuitive learning opportunities.

The reality, a video game like interface that was cool to a point, but lacked meaningful utility seems to ultimately have been its undoing. In a world shutdown by COVID, attending a Lil Nas X concert in the Metaverse was a great escape, but Taylor Swift’s ongoing billion dollar Eras tour is proving that at this point, the real world is far from dead.

It’s the job of marketers to stay ahead of the trends, and investments in things like the Metaverse are the marketing equivalent of R&D, but as a communicator, the Metaverse just felt like more hype than substance – do any of us really need a creepier version of a Zoom call?

Virtual Reality still holds a lot of promise, and as early adopters, it’s us marketers’ jobs to keep the brands we steward a step ahead of the curve, but the “killer app” of the Metaverse just never seemed to be there outside a few niche industries like entertainment.

Which is why AI intrigues us in a way that the Metaverse never did – because we can all instantly see the immense potential behind the promise of AI. Anyone who’s spent even a few minutes on Chat GPT understands, for good or for bad, that the technology truly has the potential to transform lives.

And while rumors of the death of advertising at the hands of AI seem greatly exaggerated, few would argue that time-consuming tasks like long-form content are squarely in its crosshairs. Thought leadership posts, like this one, aren’t dead yet, but are probably in danger of losing some luster when authoring expert-level white papers on any topic under the sun is a simple AI query away.

The Metaverse never aroused this type of visceral reaction in any of us (except Mark Zuckerberg). It was always a fun novelty, and while novelty is great in the short term, think the Pet Rock, utility is what drives transformation, and until we can’t imagine a world without a Metaverse, a novelty it will stay.

You hear that, Apple Vision?