Marketers’ excitement over the metaverse has been, in large part, a demographic-driven story. Gen Z and Gen Alpha have flocked to multiplayer online games including Fortnite, Minecraft and Roblox for entertainment while spending less time with traditional ad-supported media. The metaverse has been positioned as a bridge to reach these elusive young groups where they’re already spending their time. Many branded metaverse activations have manifested as custom worlds like Walmart’s Universe of Play or Nike’s Nikeland, also on Roblox.
Metaverse marketing’s focus on engaging teens has resulted in calls for closer privacy scrutiny that could throw some cold water on the hype. Roblox last week revised its policies to explicitly prohibit ads targeted at users under 13, or those in the Gen Alpha range. The updates offer additional guidelines around advertising and sponsorship disclosures and forbid brands from sending users off of the Roblox site through means like QR codes and URLs. For retailers interested in creating an omnichannel activation, where metaverse playtime can tie into e-commerce facilitated through their owned sales channels, that creates a problem.
Walmart claims that Universe of Play’s closure was a planned part of its strategy. The experience was promoted as “the ultimate virtual toy destination” and included products tied to popular franchises like “Paw Patrol” and “Jurassic World.”Retail Dive