The internet has kept on evolving from the day it came into our lives. We’ve gone from email being the best thing that ever happened. Then we moved on to social media, mobile, virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.
All these iterations of the internet, however, may not have been as big as the metaverse is expected to be. This has a direct impact on brands including halal ones and those advertising to Muslims online.
With Muslim brands and those brands targeting Muslim audiences already behind in today’s internet world, we wanted to discuss how the next one looks like. We want to give you, the reader, an opportunity to understand where the internet is heading so you can be ready.
What is the Metaverse and Why is it Awesome?
The term “metaverse” has been thrown around for many years in the world of gaming. Today, it is taking on an entirely different presence on the internet.
Let’s take a step back and talk a bit about the internet. When the internet started its existence and became a thing a lot of our lives changed. It created convenience, new business opportunities, new billionaires, and even new economies.
Metaverse is the next phase that will take the internet to the next level. So far we have had the choice of purchasing products, services, and entertainment either in the real world or in the virtual world.
Metaverse is creating a brand new world where it brings the real physical world and the virtual world together. You can look at it as twofold. We have the physical persona in real life and then we have our digital persona in the digital world – on LinkedIn, Gmail, Instagram, Reddit and many more platforms. What metaverse does is create a convergence between the physical you and the digital you by sucking you into the computer.
Well, not literally, but by taking your two-dimensional online experience and turning it into an augmented three-dimensional experience.
Epyllionco Managing Partner Matthew Ball explains:
The best way to think about it is a quasi successor state to today’s mobile internet in much the same way today’s mobile internet was built off of the internet of the 90s and 2000s. In this instance, however, the iteration is not necessarily going into a smaller computer but into virtual worlds; virtual simulations enabling the purchase of things in the real world through those environments. But also in particular purchasing things that solely exist in virtual environments. Lastly, we think about the augmentation of the world around us, not just the idea of AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) inside of a store but really the connectivity of the real world through the internet of things into virtual simulacra at the same time.
How the Metaverse and NFTs are Manifesting Themselves in Consumer Markets
Lessons from Gaming
This phenomenon is already well advanced in the world of gaming. Think of Roblox and Fortnite who have used it to give players the ability to buy NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) and use them across different games.
So for example, you can buy a character costume on Fortnite and use it on Minecraft. This is another feature of metaverse that is going to break the internet.
You know how Apple and Google apps are not compatible? Imagine your favourite Muslim consumer app being compatible for both without having to create a version for Google Play and another for App Store.
In the world of the metaverse, everyone works together because no one owns it. An awesome example is DC versus Marvel superhero characters who you will never see together on the big screen, comic books, on TV, or anywhere else. However, in the metaverse world of Fortnite, they are all working together.
Real Events by Real Artists and Real Money
Today, on these gaming platforms, young people hang out together like they would in real life. They spend real money buying virtual products like clothes (avatar skins) so they can look cool during their virtual hangout.
They even attend concerts by real music artists who perform using their own avatars. In fact, in 2020 the rapper Travis Scott performed a virtual concert on Fortnite that drew 12.3 million attendees. This surpassed the prior record of 10.7 million for a virtual show featuring DJ and music producer Marshmello in 2019.
Not Just Child Play
This is how Upland, a virtual real estate company based in the Silicon Valley, United States describes how users can make real money on their NFT metaverse:
Join a new, virtual economy where you have the opportunity to make money in the metaverse. Start out by earning a return on your properties and collecting fees from visitors. Feeling ambitious? Flip some of your properties for profit in our free and open marketplace or generate income by becoming a business owner in Upland.
Upland allows you to purchase the NFTs of the digital versions of properties from the real world. Payment can be made with cryptocurrency or a credit card. Some of these real estate properties go for thousands of dollars and are located all over the world. This is levels higher than kids buying avatar skin on Fortnite.
This is not child play at all, as many of the real-world behaviours are shifting into the world of the metaverse, where people are purchasing virtual products for thousands of dollars, attending political rallies and more.
Emily Chang of Bloomberg Technology, mentions that:
…the market opportunity for the metaverse could be 800 billion dollars by 2024.
What Your Halal Brand Needs to Know About the Metaverse Environment
What’s the Experience of Brands Currently on the Metaverse?
Brands have found their entry into the metaverse challenging. Most are at the stage of experimenting with relevant ways to create their own environments and display ads for virtual world dwellers.
According to AdAge:
With the real world becoming increasingly challenging, the social network (Facebook) sees the virtual world as its next frontier.
Coca Cola and Campbell Soup Company were the latest big names to start experimenting with the metaverse at the time of writing this article; joining other consumer goods brands like Taco Bell, Gucci, AB InBev, Procter & Gamble, and e.l.f. Cosmetics.
Coca-Cola auctioned off its first NFTs — unique digital assets stored on a blockchain. Meanwhile, Campbell Soup Company commemorated the change of its iconic soup label with its first NFT digital art pieces.
Here is the deal though: brands have to play by certain rules as each platform has its own approach to branded content:
- Roblox, for example, does not allow for just any brands to work with them on experiences.
- When Facebook started allowing ads in its Oculus virtual reality games in June of this year, backlash from players stunted the application.
- Minecraft applies strict commercial guidelines regulating the use of logos and advertising on its platform.
Other brands have started creating their own virtual worlds so that they can adhere to regulations and at the same time enable them to collect first-party data.
Immersing your halal brand into metaverse is serious work and will need some investment. Facebook and other brands for instance “are forming metaverse-focused marketing teams, similar to digital or social teams that have evolved over the past decade.” – Christina Wootton of Roblox, VP of Brand Partnerships
Islamic Jurisprudence Issues and the Metaverse
Disclaimer: Muslim Ad Network is not claiming to have knowledge of Islamic Jurisprudence. We can only tell you about the opportunities in advertising for your brand. We do feel compelled as Muslims to make you aware of the Islamic standpoint(s) on certain methods or platforms you may want to use for your brand. This is because our motivation is to help brands grow awareness online in a halal way. However, we can only tell you the general standpoint(s) on a high level. You may need to consult people of knowledge for better decision making.
If you are a Muslim practitioner, you may need to seek Islamic Jurispundence advice about involving your brand in the metaverse due to the gaming environment (although this is not the only environment) the content in them, and the depiction of animate objects as avatars, etc.
The general understanding is that drawing inanimate objects is permissible: mountains, trees, planes, cars, etc. In the case of Upland, for example, this is buildings. There is nothing wrong with that, according to the scholars.
With regard to animate objects, forbidden kinds of pictures, an exception is made in cases of necessity, such as drawing pictures of criminals to identify and arrest, or pictures for identity cards, licences, passports etc. and other cases of necessity.
…He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity …Source: al-An’aam 6:119
Here is an article that will give you some idea on the Islamic stance on NFTs: “NFTs: Shariah Compliant?”
More high-level information on cryptocurrency and tokens in this research article: “The requirements of cryptocurrency for money, an Islamic view”.
Muslim Presence in the Metaverse
Back in 2007, the International Journal of Learning and Media published a paper called, “E-hijab: Muslim Women in the Metaverse”. It stated:
Although many religions exist in Second Life, female Muslim women whose avatars wear the e-hijab bear a clear visual manifestation of religious identity. For the most part, these women tend to use this new public space to attend religious events and congregate to discuss religious issues.
Islamic NFT Art
Soon, the First NFT digital Islamic art agency is expected to launch in the Middle East. According to Arab News:
The NFT art market has grown more than 800% in just the first four months of 2021, from $52 million in January to a whopping $490 million by the end of April, according to a Business Insider report.
With this in mind, the Behnoode Foundation – based in Dubai- is due to launch the first-ever NFT digital Islamic art agency in the Middle East. It aims to modernize Islamic artwork and “sell its unique digital footprints through live auctions to fine art collectors around the world”.
Fintech Shariah Compliant NFTs
Meanwhile, an ethical decentralized finance (DeFi) is planning to launch a blockchain marketplace for Islamic non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
The marketplace, currently being developed by Marhaba Decentralized Financial Platform (MDFP) and to be built on the Binance Smart Chain, is designed to encourage and promote Islamic arts and contemporary calligraphy. It will be a no-code platform to enable the creation of NFTs, allowing artists to create and upload their artwork to the app, which will then be converted into an NFT using smart contracts.
Palestinian Activism NFT
The presence of Muslim users in the metaverse has always been there and today manifests in all forms.
Recently, Palestinian artist, Khaled Jarrar, created an NFT that represents the take-over of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers. Alexandra Chaves of The National News mentions that:
Jarrar’s NFT is an animated image entitled “If I Don’t Steal Your Home, Someone Else Will Steal it”, which shows a valley in the West Bank overtaken by Israeli settlement homes cascading across the screen. The limited-edition NFT comes with a handful of soil that will be sent from Ramallah to the collector.
Talk about bringing the virtual world and the real world together.
The metaverse is considered to be the next frontier for brands online. Marketers, brands, and even the likes of Mark Zuckerberg have started preparing. So should your halal brand or Muslim-friendly product start doing the same?
The answer is yes, but this does not mean you should go out and start building metaverse marketing teams already? It is a good time to test the waters like Coca-Cola recently did. It is also the right moment to learn more about the metaverse and formulate an interim strategy on how you want to approach it.
For Muslim businesses, halal brands, and anyone trying to advertise to Muslim consumers, there is still a lot of unchartered land in the current online advertising world.
Work with Muslim Ad Network to optimize and maximize your online advertising efforts targeting Muslims today. When the time is right, we will be there to help your organization enter the world of the metaverse.start targeting muslim consumers