World, say welcome to Meta. Mark Zuckerberg today announced that Facebook will be splitting into two branches: one arm focused on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and the company’s other existing apps and one arm focused on the development of the metaverse. All will live under the new Meta umbrella brand. The Drum surveyed an array of marketing and ad industry players to get their instant feedback once the news hits. Here’s what they had to say.
The metaverse as ‘the next frontier’
“The metaverse and virtual reality world is a great opportunity for Facebook and the new rebranding signifies their intentions, both with the Meta name and the new MVRS ticker. Traditional social media has been a crowded space recently especially with the rise of TikTok capturing younger audiences. Facebook needed to pivot on many levels, from product to PR, and this will allow it to continue growing.”-Jeff Sue, general manager, Americas at Mintegral
“Facebook’s recent rebrand to Meta proves the immersive world of AR and VR is upon us, further blurring the edges of reality and what people understand today. For marketers and advertisers, this [makes it more important to have] rich data [that provides] insight into not only who people are and what they do, but also — and perhaps most importantly — the ‘why’ driving their decisions. Gone are the days of relying on traditional demographic or behavior-based audiences for targeted display campaigns. The Meta brand represents a need to leverage predictive and contextual audiences rooted in cognitive psychology that go beyond age and gender and speak to the hearts and minds of individuals in order to invoke a response.” -Dave Kelly, chief executive officer and founder at AnalyticsIQ
“‘Meta’ refers to the next big possible paradigm shift, Web3, with the metaverse as the next frontier. However, with all of the recent revelations from the whistleblowers regarding Facebook’s singular focus on profits over consumer and societal safety, it’s unlikely to change the current narrative around Facebook.” -Michael Nevins, chief marketing officer at Smart
“Today’s announcement is a flashback to 2015 when Google rebranded to ‘Alphabet’ and created a series of subsidiaries under a new parent and stock ticker. The company is clearly looking to extend beyond its legacy portfolio…and extend its value directionally as a technology conglomerate and not just a series of social and messaging utilities. While Facebook’s brand image has been tarnished amidst a series of scandals over recent years, both marketers and shareholders continue to invest with confidence and have seen proven results. Meta is a brilliant choice. The concept of the metaverse is fluid and undefined, yet it’s application as part of our cultural vernacular only continues to grow. Marketers and investors are always looking to align with the next big thing, right?” -Matt Barash, senior vice-president of business development at Zeotap
“Meta represents the future not only for Facebook but for marketing. Just like with mobile over a decade ago, the metaverse represents the next massive opportunity for brands to engage consumers in new ways. While these are early days for the metaverse and there’s still a lot to figure out, it’s never too early for marketers to experiment with new formats. The key to success for brands in the metaverse will be ensuring that their assets are built into the ecosystem for easy access by consumers. This will require new partnerships and platforms but the omnichannel playbook is a good path to follow.” -Aaron Goldman, chief marketing officer at Mediaocean
“We’ve seen, or are seeing, what Facebook did with their influence over shaping the current digital landscape. And a good part of our industry happily rode along, if we’re honest. As the metaverse continues to morph and weave itself more tightly into all of the computer systems we interact with and advertise on, let’s all keep asking ourselves if they’re the ones we want leading the charge. Rebranding as Meta is about as strong a signal as they could send that they’re planning on playing a starring role — it’s at least partially on us as an industry to not make the same mistakes we’ve collectively made and allow them to run away with it.” -Darrin Patey, vice-president of creative technology at No Fixed Address
Or is it simply a PR-conscious reactionary move?
“The metaverse and Web3 is based on people taking back and owning their own data — think cryptocurrency and NFTs, for example. That a big tech company is trying to participate in something that is built fundamentally in opposition to big tech seems superficial. Especially since we know Facebook has had user data privacy concerns in the past that have had detrimental consequences on society. [Plus,] I believe that ultimately, they will have to change Facebook and Instagram to address concerns about issues such as the declining mental health of young people and supporting extremism to the point that our very democracy is at stake. Launching Meta will help shift focus away from their social media issues but that will take a long time. Reputationally, it does have benefits. It allows Facebook the company to distance itself from a reputation standpoint from the issues on the social media platform Facebook. And it allows Facebook to renew itself by becoming more in-tune with how the generation that does not currently use its social media platforms do and will use the internet, introducing its products back to a new audience. For marketers and publishers, they’ll have two choices: stick with those platforms because of their reach or take a stand. Few companies have taken a stand not to work with Facebook and Instagram over a long period of time.” -Dini von Mueffling, founder at Dini von Mueffling Communications
“Functionally, this doesn’t change anything for the day to day brand, marketer, or advertiser on Facebook — yet. We all know that with the Apple versus Facebook feud over audience data, Facebook has been looking for ways to diversify their revenue streams away from advertising spend. Today, Facebook is an advertising company. That’s how they make money — but perhaps not for long. This name change is a signal to the market that getting involved in the Web3 ecosystem presents a whole new frontier in terms of revenue opportunities that they’re eager to pursue. The main question will emerge: is operating their platform in a decentralized ecosystem also a way to untangle themselves from Congressional scrutiny and their competitive gripes with the likes of Apple? Imagine the massive entity that is Facebook existing in an environment that can’t be shut down by any government entity — a world that they own completely. This is going to be a wild ride.” -Daniel Pantelo, chief executive officer of Marpipe
“With social media under scrutiny, and with increasing regulation inevitable, the rebrand and pivot seem to be an attempt to deflect some of the attention from recent scandals, while also entering into a new arena where Facebook may feel better positioned to shape the rules, which is of particular importance as Facebook looks to mitigate the commercial impact of Apple’s ongoing privacy push on its existing ad business.” -Arielle Garcia, chief privacy officer at UM Worldwide
“There are several things going on. The company is obviously trying to distance itself from the parade of scandals with a new brand. It also wants to tell an exciting future-tech story about growth to the market. It’s also copying what Google did with Alphabet. Finally, it’s true that the company has multiple products and Facebook is just one, albeit the most important one. Multiple motivations are operating and the way you see the move is a kind of a Rorschach test. But what’s perhaps most striking is that Facebook is now choosing to hook its new brand, Meta, to a product — the metaverse — that is highly uncertain and could take a decade or more to materialize — if at all.” -Greg Sterling, vice-president of market insights at Uberall
“A rebrand can help convey a vision for the future of a brand — but only if it’s thoroughly considered, perfectly executed and intended for a greater purpose. The biggest issue Facebook faces is a lack of consumer trust that it has a greater purpose. And rebranding as Meta does nothing but serve to reinforce consumers’ fears that Facebook is only concerned about itself. Every service they mention under this new umbrella brand has more to do with services focused on entertainment that would seemingly disconnect humans from reality even more than it would to solve the real world concerns consumers have with the brand.” -John Weiss, cofounder and partner at Human