The 7 key components of successful metaverse marketing on VR language learning platforms

The metaverse is the convergence of our physical and digital lives1, a space where human-human and human-machine interactions will be taking place in an increasingly spatial, or immersive, internet. In the words of Louis Rosenberg2, ‘The metaverse transforms the role of the user from an outsider to a co-located participant who engages in natural, personal, and intuitive experiences.’ And it is not merely a fad. As Amy Beck, EndeavorVR CEO, said in a Forbes interview:

‘The metaverse isn’t going anywhere’.3

The development of the metaverse provides completely new avenues for consumer engagement4 and thus new opportunities for marketing. However, brands need to be thoughtful about how they enter this evolving new space. Marketing campaigns may end up being costly and short-lived if they do not take into account what users are looking for in the metaverse. Successful marketing requires building a meaningful brand presence that adds to, rather than detracts from, the user experience.

We have combed through the previous research on marketing, psychology, behavioral science, educational science, and technology to find studies on motivation, engagement, gamification, rewards programs, marketing in early virtual worlds, and emerging metaverse technologies. From this research, we have identified seven steps for integrating marketing successfully into virtual reality platforms, as VR is one of the main ways that people will experience the metaverse.

7 key components of successfully integrating marketing into virtual reality platforms

1. Choose a platform and demographic that are a good fit for your brand

When marketing in the metaverse, brands need to pay careful attention to the fit between their brand offerings and the virtual world in which they are being marketed5. A mismatch between brand and platform risks more than just being ineffective; it can negatively impact the users’ perception of the brand. If the fit is not good, users may resist or become annoyed with in-app advertising6

To fit well, the brand has to align with the purpose of the platform it is marketed on. Advertising alcohol or fast food in a health and wellness VR app, for instance, would not be the best fit.

Similarly, the brand needs to fit the platform users’ age range, values, interests, and desired experiences. In the metaverse, as in the real world, different individuals place value on different types of products7, so it is important to identify the platforms frequented by groups that would welcome your brand. 

For many users, the virtual world is an extension of their real life8 and brands need to recognize and respect this so that users view the marketing as enhancing their VR experience rather than clashing with it. It is likely that adults in a language learning platform would be more interested in learning about travel opportunities than about the latest makeup trends, for example.

In short, to be effective, marketing needs to align with a platform’s purpose and values so it adds value and is perceived positively by the users.

2. Add to the authenticity of the experience

A brand that fits well with a platform and its users is in the position to add value for the users by making their experiences feel more authentic. When done well, the presence of real-world brands and franchises adds realism to the virtual world and can help VR users build a better personal experience.9, 10 

In a language learning platform, for instance, users aim to acquire language and cultural skills that are transferable to the real world. Authentic digital content provided by product placement highlights the connection between the scenes in the app and the world outside VR, thereby supporting learning and boosting motivation. 

Users have good reason to welcome brand presence when it makes the virtual world more authentic. On the other hand, research has found that users can become annoyed at marketing that seems out of place and does not fit naturally into their in-app experience5. When brand placement is seen as an attempt to persuade the user to do something, it can also be considered sneaky10. Therefore, brands need to support, rather than disrupt, the authenticity of the experience.

3. Integrate your brand into the platform’s narrative

The most effective way a brand can market itself in the metaverse is by building experiences for users.1 Research has shown that users appreciate opportunities to realize their personal vision for VR.9 Thus, “storytelling is a powerful driver for brands when approaching the metaverse.”11 

Brands that integrate into a virtual world’s storytelling can offer virtual goods that assist users in shaping their own personal narrative. Additionally, by providing experiences aligned with the story, brands help users have the lives they envision for themselves in VR. This must be done sensitively though so that users perceive the brands positively.5, 9 Research has shown that users can find blatant product placement with little or no integration into a storyline to be annoying.5 In short, brand-sponsored activities should be designed with care because many users take their digital lives seriously. Brands should too.

Users also appreciate marketing that helps them forge social connections, such as when a brand sponsors a communal space where users can engage with other users.9 When they integrate themselves into the platform’s narrative, brands can bring people together through common interests and shared activities. This builds community.12 

Brands can create  positive, integrated, social experiences for VR users by being innovative.8 Many users like experiences that show them something new, and given the potential of the metaverse, they expect brands to create novel experiences.4 For example, Dell built a massive computer in the virtual world Second Life that was so large people could crawl around inside and learn how it worked. This particular experience was educational while also taking advantage of VR’s potential for innovation.

4. Offer virtual goods that can help users customize their virtual lives

Any brand looking to expand their marketing into the metaverse should recognize that many users come to VR to create an extension of their physical lives. A brand that helps users achieve their personal vision in the virtual world, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to branding, is likely to be perceived as a partner and welcomed. 

Virtual reality “allows for a whole new context of experiencing and customizing a product for their [consumers’] tastes, rather than the traditional way of just being exposed to a billboard or advertisement. Additionally, it can make the users feel understood and valued by the brand, differentiating the brand and changing its perspective in the consumers’ minds.”11 

This potential for brands to create a positive customer relationship through personalization has been noted by several researchers. One study on the virtual world Second Life, for instance, found users perceived in-world branded items favorably when they allowed chances for customization.12 Another found that for users who seek to build their ideal selves and lives in VR, branded rewards can be a means of achieving their goals.9 

These users are particularly interested in branded items that can be displayed on their avatar to reflect achievement or earned status, such as T-shirts or other accessories. They also appreciate items that can be used to customize their home spaces, such as pictures and plants,12 which help them construct their personal vision for their experience in VR. Items that have utility, such as enabling them to unlock new content, are especially desirable13, 1 because they enrich users’ experience and help them achieve their goals within the platform.

Choice is a key feature when it comes to customization. Marketing strategies that let users select their branded content rather than offering random rewards may create a more positive attitude towards the brand, as this increases agency within the platform and maximizes personalization. 

5. Support the users’ intrinsic motivation

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is driven by internal rewards, like fun or personal growth, that others can help you achieve but don’t have the power to just give you. Extrinsic motivation is driven by external rewards, like money or points in a gamified experience.

Examples of intrinsically motivating rewards include “having fun, building community, learning things, and being recognized” and are more motivating in the long run than extrinsic rewards.14 

For brands, it is important to recognize that in virtual reality, intrinsic rewards are often integrated into the platform’s narrative. For this reason, branded items are valued by users when they are earned, not randomly given.1 This is because earned items are linked to achievement.9

For example, items that are earned by leveling up help users track progress towards their personal goals. This is especially true in educational apps, which users sign up for out of intrinsic motivation in the first place.

Branded items can also offer value in the form of social benefit.9, 12 For example, when earning a branded item requires spending time and effort in the platform, having it identifies a user as an experienced member that new users can turn to with questions. Thus, the item confers a desirable social benefit.

6. Involve the users and be transparent

An essential element of the metaverse is community. Co-ownership and co-creation play an important role.1 Therefore, members of a metaverse platform should be informed early on about any marketing plans, and they should ideally have some say in what brands and types of advertisements they find acceptable. Once the first brands have been integrated, research should be conducted to find out which branded items or sponsored events users like and what impact they have had on their virtual lives.

7. Protect the immersive rights of users

Metaverse safety experts warn that metaverse and related web3 technologies have the potential to be misused by marketers and are calling for policies to protect users.2 Brands and their metaverse platform partners should not wait for stricter regulations but proactively protect users’ rights. In the words of metaverse pioneer Louis Rosenberg:15

‘I firmly believe consumer protections would be good for advertisers and platform providers, for without sensible guardrails, users in the metaverse would be unable to trust the authenticity of any experience. That would damage the industry at all levels.’

Rosenberg lists three important immersive rights that need to be protected:

‘1. The right to experiential authenticity

2. The right to emotional privacy

3. The right to behavioral privacy’

In addition to the immersive rights stated by Rosenberg, we would add that children should have the right not to be targeted by marketing at all. Young children lack sufficient critical thinking skills for distinguishing between factual content and advertisement, and older ones might find ads difficult to resist, especially when they are embedded in a trusted environment,16 such as a learning platform. 

Proactively supporting these rights will protect brands as well, so that VR marketing doesn’t draw criticism and develop a bad reputation right from the start.

How Immerse integrates brands based on the 7 elements above

Immerse is defining a new category of virtual worlds for learners that sets an example for other non-gaming VR apps. It is the only metaverse platform where expert language Guides teach live sessions and engage members in delightful language learning experiences and events in an immersive environment built specifically for this purpose. 

In light of the seven steps for integrating marketing successfully into virtual reality platforms outlined above, Immerse is highly suitable for metaverse marketing.

Let us explain.

1. Good fit for many brands

Immerse is uniquely positioned to work with a wide range of brands due the nature of the platform. Because Immerse is a virtual world with over 30 scenes that reflect the real world, there are a huge number of places where brands can blend seamlessly with the environment. 

In addition, because branded content can be integrated naturally, it provides added opportunities for practice with language and culture. This adds value for Immerse users and creates a positive association with the brand. 

Immerse is also a particularly good marketing fit for a variety of companies because of our membership. Immerse members vary in age, come from a range of personal backgrounds, and are motivated to learn languages for a variety of different reasons. This means they represent more than one unique target market and may find value in a variety of brands. 

Several types of brand marketing could fit well within Immerse and add value to our members by increasing authenticity, providing opportunities for personalization, and funding educational events. Here are some examples: 

  • franchises as locations for lessons and events 
  • product placement inside scenes
  • cultural events sponsored by brands
  • billboards, radio announcements, etc. inside scenes
  • making branded objects, clothing, etc. available for avatar customization

The list goes on and on!

2. Authentic experiences

Immerse is a virtual world with a variety of real-world elements and settings, including an airport, a restaurant, and a shopping center, among others. Branding adds to the realism of these scenes, thereby supporting the learning experience. For example, seeing typical billboard advertisements, shops and brands from the real world while role-playing checking in at the airport or ordering food in a restaurant can enhance motivation, learning, and retention of what is being learned. It can also help with the transfer of knowledge to real life situations. 

Brands are more likely to be positively received when they are helping users achieve the goals that brought them into the app in the first place. In Immerse, brands can help app users by:

  • contributing realistic settings such as franchises where they can practice their language skills
  • enhancing the virtual scenes with real-world items and products so they can practice the language they will need in the world outside VR
  • sponsoring content or events that provide language-learning experiences they might otherwise not have access to

3. Clear Narrative

The idea of immersing members in different experiences and contexts where they can develop their language skills is central to our platform. Reaching fluency requires opportunities for Immerse Members to forge relationships with one another and to participate in communal activities.

Brands can become a positive force in the Immerse community by:

  • providing virtual spaces where Members can meet up and interact
  • inviting Spanish-speaking celebrities like soccer players, musicians, or artists to interact with Members
  • sponsoring games, storytelling events, or other experiences that support Immerse users’ desire to learn through social interaction and active engagement with the VR environment

4. Customizable avatars, home, and learning path

Immerse is designed around the concept of self realization. Members can choose lessons on the topics that interest them at times that are convenient for them, and can also help steer the direction that lessons take. This helps them achieve their personal language goals. They also have their own personal space that will become customized as they interact within the platform. 

Marketing can actively assist them with this. Brands can add value to each user’s unique Immerse experience through:

  • branded clothing and accessories for customizing avatars 
  • items for personalizing home spaces
  • sponsored in-app events that help users reach their personal goals

5. Intrinsically motivated members

As a social education app, Immerse has users that: 

  • are intrinsically motivated to learn languages
  • are interested in building community 
  • want to have fun while improving their language skills
  • want to track their language learning progress 

Rewarding members with branded items for behaviors such as attending all of their scheduled classes each month, spending time in the social lounge, mastering a particular skill in the language, and so on makes it easy for brands to support achievement. This benefits both the members and brands, in that the members appreciate the recognition that branded items provide and are motivated by the opportunity to earn them.

6. User involvement

There is a group of invested and loyal members called the Immerse Pioneers who have been invited to be involved in a greater capacity in shaping the product, guidelines, and world of Immerse. We plan to include the Immerse Pioneers in selecting which brands we partner with and integrate into our platform. We will also seek their feedback after brands launch to make sure the marketing feels smoothly integrated into the Immerse experience. 

In addition, the Immerse research team will conduct studies to determine how the branded scenes and experiences support or detract from the actual learning, so that we can refine our marketing approach and ensure that our marketing partners are truly adding value to our members and helping them achieve their language goals.

7. User rights protection

Immerse provides a space where there can be mutual trust between users and brands, as all marketing activity will be identified and geared towards enhancing the user experience. Brand-sponsored cultural events will be promoted as such, and users can opt in to receive brand awards or special offers.

Members can rest assured that their personal information will always be protected, and as the Immerse platform is for adult learners, children will not be part of marketing activities.

Concluding remarks

As Mathew Ball has said, the metaverse will be what we collectively make it. The early ‘metaverse-like’ virtual worlds like Second Life were collaborative endeavors devoted to creativity and self expression rather than to money making or manipulation of others.6 With ‘reasonable guardrails in place’ to protect against potential misuse, the metaverse ‘can become a deeply humanizing technology that expands and enriches our lives.’2 

Marketing, if integrated well into a metaverse platform, can be part of this. There is space in the metaverse for brands that are genuinely excited by the potential for collaborating with consumers. Brands that explore ways to support users’ goals in VR by co-creating content and experiences can forge a new type of relationship with consumers, one based on partnership and mutual respect.

VR education applications like Immerse are a good place to start. With intrinsically motivated users who stand to gain from the type of cultural immersion enhancement that brands can infuse into the platform, Immerse is ready to help turn the metaverse into a place where innovation, openness, and collaboration have real value.


1. Cathy Hackl, Dirk Lueth, and Tommaso DiBartolleo. Navigating the Metaverse: A Guide to Limitless Possibilities in a Web 3.0 World. New Jersey: Wiley, 2022.

2. Louis Rosenberg, “Marketing in the Metaverse: A Fundamental Shift.” Future of Marketing Institute. August 15, 2022.

3. Diane Brady, “‘The Metaverse Isn’t Going Anywhere,’ Says EndeavorVR CEO Amy Peck,” Forbes, September 11, 2022, interview, 0:42 to 0:45,

4. Eric Hazan et al., “Marketing in the Metaverse: An Opportunity for Innovation and Experimentation.” McKinsey Quarterly. May 24, 2022.

5. Stuart Barnes and Jan Mattsson, “Exploring the Fit of Real Brands in the Second Life Virtual World,” Journal of Marketing Management 27, nos. 9-10, (2011): 934, Taylor & Francis.

6. Matthew Ball, The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2022).

7. Ashleigh Shelton, “Defining the Lines Between Virtual and Real World Purchases: Second Life Sells, But Who’s Buying?” Computers in Human Behavior 26, (2010): 1223, ScienceDirect.

8. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, “The Fairyland of Second Life: Virtual Social Worlds and How to Use Them,” Business Horizons 52, (2009): 563, ScienceDirect.

9. Sara Hansen, “Exploring Real Brand Meanings and Goods in Virtual-World Social Interaction: Enhanced Rewards, Rarity, and Realism,” Journal of Marketing Management 29, nos. 13-14, (2013): 1443. Taylor & Francis.

10. Mike Molesworth, “Real Brands in Imaginary Worlds: Investigating Players’ Experiences of Brand Placement in Digital Games,” Journal of Consumer Behaviour 5, (2006): 355. Wiley.

11. Alaa Helal and Thiago de Marco Costa, “Branding in the Metaverse: Exploring Established Brand Management Perspectives and the Advent of Decentralized Branding on Web 3.0,” Master’s Programme in International Marketing & Brand Management, 2022,

12. Jennifer Martin, “Consuming Code: Use-Value, Exchange-Value, and the Role of Virtual Goods in Second Life,” Journal of Virtual Worlds Research 1, no. 2, (2008): 1.

13. Thomas Malaby, “Parlaying Value: Capital in and Beyond Virtual Worlds,” Games and Culture 1, no. 2, (2006): 141.

14. Saiganesh Swaminathan et al., “Learn2Earn: Using Mobile Airtime Incentives to Bolster Public Awareness Campaigns,” Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 3(CSCW), (2019): 1.

15. Louis Rosenberg, “Migration to the Metaverse: We Need Guaranteed Basic Immersive Rights.” VentureBeat. September 11, 2022.

16. Jenny Radesky et al., “Digital Advertising to Children,” Pediatrics 146, no. 1, (2020): e20201681.

Written by:

Nergiz Kern is Head of Research at Immerse and an EdTech professional who specializes in virtual reality for language learning, with her first steps in virtual reality taken in 2008. She has taught languages, trained teachers and ‘lived’ in virtual reality, where learning is active, immersive, experiential and social. She has an MA in Educational Technology and TESOL with 20+ years of teaching experience, and a postgraduate certificate in using Multi-User Virtual Worlds in Education.

Miranda Novash, Research Writer at Immerse. She has an MA in TESOL and over two decades of language teaching experience. She is excited about the work Immerse is doing to bring immersive language learning to students everywhere through VR.

Tricia Thrasher, PhD, Research Manager at Immerse. She has conducted numerous research studies examining how VR technology can be integrated into language teaching in a meaningful way that improves learning outcomes. She has published in journals such as the CALICO Journal and Foreign Language Annals and is currently the Chair of the CALICO Immersive Realities Special Interest Group.

Originally published on LinkedIn on October 10, 2022.