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Metaverse metrics: How to measure ROI and KPIs

Metaverse metrics

Metaverse metrics are vital to measuring the success of any experience. Definable goals and KPIs are vital in any other part of the business, from performance marketing to sales figures. The same is true in the immersive tech space, ranging from Roblox partnering with brands to reach Gen Z audiences, to Decentraland hosting major events such as Music Week. The same is true for more blockchain-based activities too, forming new types of communities under the banner of web3.

The article will go into detail on the kinds of metrics to consider. Success comes down to shaping the proposition for the customer or visitor, and building upwards from there. Example KPIs can rely on dwell time, customer conversations, or engagement levels within a community. All of them could be used on different levels, but should be applied when building upwards.

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Establishing the type of metaverse experience

The first step any company must take is to establish what success looks like. The best metaverse experiences match the customer profile of the business, shaping it for their own needs and desires. Any experience that goes too far off the beaten path risks obscurity. For example, younger people are more likely to own crypto wallets; for them, a web3-based experience may work better. Or perhaps the experience is designed by a company for corporate engagement; in which case, a web-based virtual world may work better.

Other types of metaverse experiences to consider:

  • Blockchain-based community in web3: Communities that are based on blockchain technologies, such as Ethereum, can form strong bonds through tokenised access. Examples include Nouns and Bored Ape Yacht Club.
  • Web-based virtual worlds: Social spaces can host communities that can come together, to either socialise or attend events. Examples include Decentraland and Roblox, which can host thousands (or many more) in a space.
  • VR-based virtual worlds: Similar to the above, these virtual spaces can be much more immersive as people roam across virtual worlds within their own avatars. Examples include Horizon Worlds and VRChat.

‘The metaverse for me is a place that connects people together, so the two most important metrics are number of connections that a user or player has made with someone else, and the time spent with one another, which is hopefully a proxy for depth of connection.’

– Elijah Tai, co-founder of Zesty

DCG and Jamestown worked together to make a metaverse experience in Decentraland. Photo credit: Jamestown.
DCG and Jamestown worked together to make a metaverse experience in Decentraland. Photo credit: Jamestown.

How do you measure success in the metaverse?

Once done, it is then time to establish what success looks like. Measuring it depends on the goals of the company building it, and then ironing out the metaverse metrics. All companies and activations have different goals and objectives, and each would focus on a different area.

Take corporate businesses as one example. An enterprise company would focus on employee engagement and memory retention. For them, success would mean lots of employees who visited the experience and remember it a while later. The number of visitors and dwell time would be key metrics to measure in that particular case.

By contrast, a consumer brand would want to ensure it sparks online discussions and stay in the virtual world as long as possible. The customers may then be guided to purchase items on-site, or the bulk of the product would come from selling tickets to enter the location (if it was events-based). Key KPIs would include the conversion rate of visitors, or the revenue generated from the sale of virtual assets.

A similarity between B2B and B2C is the focus on retention; the longer a person roams in a virtual location, the more successful the experience. But beyond that, different audiences would have alternating goals. Measuring success can include dwell time, conversions, and sales. All of them will be explored in the next section.

‘I don’t think that these measurements need to be always publicly accessible as there is often more to it than a pure single metric. For instance, with our ‘mini metaverse’ developments we’d rather look at user engagement over pure numbers, retention > acquisition at the start of most product journeys before the number of users increases.’

– Simon Barratt, CEO and co-founder of Cooperative Innovations

Example metaverse metrics

  • Number of visitors: A crude example is the raw number of people who visit an experience. The flashy numbers can then be used to show the popularity of key events; for example, Decentraland hosted over 100,000 people during Metaverse Fashion Week. But be careful. Other metrics may show a greater kind of success, depending on the goal of the business.
  • Conversation rate: If a customer visits a virtual world and then buys a product within it, then a person is converted within the experience. The conversion rate can then be calculated by tracking how many people visited a location and bought items on-site. The statistics can also show if certain people buy particular products; the data can then be used to innovate on the space for future activations.
  • Dwell time: If a customer stays in a metaverse experience, then it reflects a prolonged period of engagement within a brand experience. Compare this to social media, where people skim through content in mere seconds. Or a TV ad, which may engage people for up to thirty seconds but is trickier to pin down the long-term impact. The average duration of a user within an online experience provides valuable insights into how genuinely interesting the location is for the visitor.
  • Community engagement: As web3 technologies can help to build tight communities, one of the main metaverse metrics relates to engagement. If users join via a token and leave quickly, then it may not be designed with retention in mind. The longer a person stays and socialises, the stronger the tie with the individual.

‘It comes down to this: where do you see yourself? Are you building as part of the metaverse, or are you claiming to be building ‘a metaverse’? These are fundamentally two different archetypes.’

– Jesse Alton, founder of AngellXR and co-chair at Open Metaverse Interoperability group (OMI)

More information can be found in an excellent report by Gorilla in the room, exploring further measurement methods:

metaverse measurement gap
Certain behaviours are more important to track than others. Photo credit: Gorilla in the room.

How do you test a metaverse?

Before deployment, it is important to test a metaverse to see if it works well. Sometimes this can be difficult, as companies may be constrained by time or resources. There may also be no room for experimentation too. Testing also differentiates between metaverse experiences; Roblox has a different suite of tools from Decentraland, for example. With that said, here are some tips:

  • Deploy a private version, and invite team members to test. This can be done to build qualitative data before it goes live publically.
  • Test a process before deployment, across a range of devices. The onboarding experience for mobile phones may be very different from desktop computers. Look across multiple different devices to halt headaches long beforehand.
  • Give yourself time. Prototyping is an important part of the design process, and it is important to give a product time to breathe. With time comes innovation, and the experience can be improved before its formal launch.

‘Just as in the evolution of digital marketing, being able to track cross-platform and cross-device will also be needed.’

Casey Jensen VP of US sales and marketing at rooom Inc

How can you measure ROI?

Investing in a metaverse experience can be expensive. Brands can take risks innovating and building new types of experiences, and learning from them over time. Some succeeded; Nike’s own Nikeland had 21 million people who visited it over a year, and unveiled its own web3 platform to capture new users. Others have flopped, investing hundreds of thousands – or perhaps millions – into failed experiences.

As explored previously, the ROI depends on the goals of the business. Once they are ironed out and crystal-clear, then it is a solid board to jump off from. If the metaverse experience is more consumer-orientated, then success can be measured by the volume of NFTs which had been sold. For example, Adidas sold 30,000 NFTs in December 2021, earning more than $22m in the process. By comparing the revenue with the cost of setting up the NFT campaign, then the ROI can be swiftly calculated. These types of metaverse metrics help to pinpoint what success looks like, in a concrete manner.

The most important piece of advice is to iron out the goals right from the beginning, and build an experience designed around the needs of the end user. Failing to do so will risk a half-hearted metaverse activation that lands flat.

‘You need CCU to make the place feel alive. You need ARPU to keep the lights on.’

Albert Millis, COO of Virtual Umbrella

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Meditative with the VIVE Flow. Photo credit: Tom Ffiske

Tom Ffiske

Editor, Immersive Wire

Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.