- Facebook parent Meta has invited ad execs to its first meeting to lay out its metaverse pitch.
- Meta has already pitched advertisers directly on establishing a presence in the metaverse.
- Ad execs are wary, given Facebook’s history of Newsfeed as being risky for brands.
Facebook parent Meta is prepping its metaverse pitch to top advertisers after rebranding to focus on virtual spaces.
The tech giant invited a small group of top ad execs to a virtual roundtable on February 17, said several people who received invites.
It’ll be Meta’s first time pitching its new focus to execs at companies such as WPP’s GroupM and IPG Mediabrands, who handle billions in ad spend for companies like Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Amazon.
The invite, framed as a “conversation about the metaverse,” was short on details. Meta has not announced any specific metaverse ad features. Patent applications hint at virtual stores being a big part of its business, but internal documents indicate that Meta does not plan to invest heavily for some time.
One ad exec predicted that Meta would focus on lighter fare at this meeting, like VR lenses in Instagram Stories, and that with Meta’s decision to end its crypto business, it’s unlikely to emphasize NFTs for now. A Meta spokeswoman said the meeting was an opportunity for the execs to ask questions and for Meta to suggest small steps their clients could take to enter virtual worlds.
Sources said Meta has already begun directly pitching big advertisers on the metaverse, promising to help them establish a virtual presence for free in exchange for a minimum ad spend commitment. This is similar to how it’s worked with brands on non-paid activity in the past, by asking them to create Facebook Pages or ecommerce Shops, for example.
Meta’s new pitch is likely to meet a skeptical audience, given Facebook’s history of hosting content that’s risky for brands.
The ad industry continues to press Meta for more control over where brands’ ads appear in Newsfeed, and it’s harder to moderate content in the visually-oriented metaverse than on text-based platforms like Newsfeed, said Keiley Taylor, global head of partnerships at GroupM. Reports of harassment and assault in VR settings have already surfaced around the world.
“If you think social media can be risky for brand safety, wait until you build your own virtual world that’s open to everyone,” said Alexander Rea, global director of creative and technology at Omnicom design firm Critical Mass. “The deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the more you as a company need to be comfortable with the risk.”
CMOs feel an expectation to explore the metaverse, even if they see its real-world applications as largely speculative. Agency execs said they are advising marketers to watch metaverse trends, but proceed with caution.
“This is the pay-attention phase, but I wouldn’t go running,” said Taylor. “Will they continue to move fast and break things?”
Rea said advertisers looking for opportunities in the metaverse are more likely to work with companies like Fortnite maker Epic Games and Roblox Corporation, which have already turned their established virtual communities into big revenue sources.
Another exec said while brands may just be experimenting with the metaverse, or Web3 activity, for now, that may change.
“TikTok was stunty two years ago, and now it’s a part of everyone’s media plans,” the exec said.