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Meta touts metaverse as single biggest opportunity

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has emphasised the metaverse will be a big opportunity for modern business in the years to come.

The internet giant also highlighted virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), business messaging, mega-sales days, creators and videos as potential trends to watch next year.

The metaverse is a set of virtual spaces where users can create an exploration with others who are not together physically, which could bring people closer even as they are separated.

“The metaverse will be the single biggest opportunity for modern business since the creation of the internet,” Dan Neary, Meta’s vice-president of Asia-Pacific, said at the company’s recent virtual APAC press day.

“This is the next evolution of digital platforms and there is a lot of potential in this area in Asia-Pacific, which has always been ahead of the curve on digital adoption.”

The metaverse will create opportunities for businesses, ranging from AR, Meta Horizon Workrooms, to the gaming ecosystem, said Mr Neary.

With 3D immersive experience in the metaverse, online business could turn it into a virtual space that features brands and products drawn from the physical world, he said.

According to Mr Neary, businesses with a large following may introduce some limited digital merchandise for loyal customers.

For service businesses, home consultations may be conducted in the metaverse.

Brands can partner with an influencer and conduct a live event in the metaverse to deepen engagement between fans and brands, he said.

Mr Neary said at least five key trends are expected to gather steam next year.

The first involves VR/AR technology with related applications becoming mainstream.

With this technology, people can try on clothes and shoes virtually before buying them or work remotely in virtual space, he said.

The second trend is business messaging becoming more popular. Some 500 million people engage in business messaging each day on various platforms.

This also has implications for social commerce, where people discover products through their friends’ feeds, said Mr Neary.

“Being a message-able business can mean the difference between growth and stagnation,” he said.

The third trend is mega-sales days — shopping festivals that combine entertainment and shopping experiences.

Mega-sales days have become the point of entry for a lot of first-time online shoppers, said Mr Neary.

Such events are not about discounts, as people are choosing the brands that stand out in their minds, he said.

The fourth trend is related to creators as home-based content has surged across a range of topics and formats, including cooking tutorials, family entertainment and fitness.

According to AnyMind research, the numbers of macro-influencers — those with 100,000 to 1 million followers — across the region has grown by 66% over 2021, particularly in Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.

The fifth trend involves videos, as digital video viewers are forecast to exceed 2 billion next year in Asia-Pacific, based on a study by eMarketer.

Businesses have lots of ways to reach people with videos, from ads in Messenger to instant experiences and Instagram Reels, said Mr Neary.

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