Leading independent programmatic DOOH ad tech company Hivestack has announced the launch of a new research division that will focus on exploring in-store, programmatic media activation in the metaverse. Computer vision scientist P. Anandan has joined Hivestack as a special advisor as part of the initiative.
A Hivestack website report quotes a recent eMarketer report citing that advertisers spent $31bn in 2021 in the US on retail media, with a path to $100bn in the coming years. The findings of the report showed that the majority of the ad spend went to advertising on Amazon and Walmart’s digital assets. A growing trend is that large, big box retailers are implementing custom ad tech stacks with identity solutions to monetise their online marketplace as well as their physical stores.
Big-box retailers are taking the next steps in their digital offerings and developing metaverse equivalents of their physical venues. When these stores launch, consumers will be able to wear VR headsets and have their avatar counterparts walk down aisles garnering all the benefits of a virtual shopping outing. This will offer consumers a much more immersive experience than shopping on current two-dimensional user interfaces from their mobile devices.
Metaverse stores will enable advertising opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers - in particular, their avatars, at the point of purchase - on virtual in-store walls, virtual digital endcaps, and even virtual in-store audio advertising. Preliminary research shows that consumer engagement in the metaverse will far exceed current online experiences and thus lead to deeper engagement with ensuing greater outcomes for advertisers.
Andreas Soupliotis, Founder & CEO of Hivestack shared: “With the launch of our research division, we are prototyping how ad tech can be used to programmatically activate ad opportunities in virtual retail stores in the metaverse. In this environment, the consumer is technically inside their homes shopping via VR headsets, but their avatar is out-of-home. Much of Hivestack’s full-stack technology for digital out-of-home activation and monetization applies to retail metaverse advertising, but some important computer science gaps remain to be addressed. We launched this initiative to formulate the needed technology to make programmatic DOOH a success in the meta as well as the physical world.“
The use of meta and crypto-related concepts to buy and sell DOOH ads is already happening. As an example, Hivestack’s exclusive partner in Japan, LIVE BOARD (a wholly owned subsidiary of NTTDocomo and Dentsu Japan) have already started to experiment selling outdoor advertising space as NFTs, representing the first initiative in Japan to sell outdoor advertising rights as an NFT.
P. Anandan, former Managing Director of Microsoft Research, Distinguished Scientist and Emeritus Researcher at Microsoft, and now consultant to the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation commented on his new role of Special Advisor at Hivestack: “I am thrilled to be advising Hivestack on this new direction of avatar-based out-of-home advertising. There are some important technology, product and engineering challenges that need to be addressed in order for marketers to benefit from this new generation of advertising. In particular, how does one translate avatar identity from a one-to-one metaverse world to the actual, one-to-many physical world? Also, how do marketers measure the efficacy of these cross-universe media activations? And how should physical-world behaviours drive media activation in the metaverse?
“Finally, there are many unanswered questions regarding how media payments will be made to metaverse retailers, with cryptocurrencies possibly being used. In such cases, RTB bid requests and responses between DSPs and SSPS would be based on cryptocurrency CPMs. As you can see there are many hurdles to overcome, and I look forward to helping Hivestack grow a research team that will address these new frontiers in ad tech and provide marketers with the solutions they will need to succeed in the burgeoning field of ‘Meta Marketing’.”