When Facebook first announced its upcoming name change to Meta in October of 2021, many users expected a platform requiring virtual reality goggles for a lifelike three-dimensional experience. If that was the vision, we still have a way to go before it is the overall user experience. “Metaverse” has evolved into a broader term today, encompassing an immersive adventure through the Internet or apps providing a unique view into something spectacular replacing in-person engagement. In the proptech world, virtual tours of real estate properties that fall under this broader category have become incredibly popular. Through them, prospective buyers and the agents guiding them through properties feel as if they are on-site. This is due to the lifelike visuals that technology has gifted the virtual world with its many advancements and enhancements. It’s 2023, and we have come a long way over the years!
Users want developers to make things easy
Furthermore, companies have had to tighten their budgets due to economic constraints resulting in increased employee layoffs and fewer dollars to allocate toward advertising. These organizations also greatly acknowledge consumers’ virtual demands since COVID restricted travel. They recognize that investing in metaverse technologies is more economical and will bring more eyes to their offerings – specifically, consumers preferring not to travel because of what technology can offer.
This has worked out very well for the proptech realm as these technologies help to cut down on numerous trips to a property for buyers. For real estate agents and firms, they help to save on costs related to swanky open houses. They can also eliminate unnecessary meetings with more selective potential buyers likelier to rule out a property (the app should be designed to give users the optimal first look!). At the same time, these technologies are bringing more views to the properties from near and far.
As mentioned earlier, since the pandemic, more people in our industry demand virtual offerings for a first perusal of a property. It is important to note that in any sector, whether real estate, education or entertainment, providing an in-app metaverse experience requires tremendous forethought, insight and diligence.
Customer 360 view, recommendation engine, churn
Going back to the example I know best, the metaverse as it relates to proptech, according to a recent report, that market is currently valued at $18.2 billion. It is expected to reach $86.5 billion by 2032. As companies work to develop apps that attract prospective buyers, artificial intelligence (AI) has become an incredible asset for making this a more innovative process. AI enables the ability to completely understand customer needs. It is instrumental for building a customer 360 view, a thorough knowledge of the customer and their preferences. This helps in making suitable recommendations for the individual customers (what is known as the “recommendation engine”) based on machine learning (ML) algorithms built on the data at scale.
Furthermore, AI assesses churn – determining who is sticking with an app, who is leaving and why they’re leaving. This gives the product team excellent insights and the opportunities to take proper actions at the appropriate times, reducing churn and increasing customer retention.
Short videos are still king!
Marrying the benefits of an in-person experience and combining them with the speed, efficiency and accessibility of technology could be the key for new apps looking to make it in the metaverse. But app creators must remember that consumers’ attention spans have taken a collective nosedive, with short videos, like those we see on TikTok, becoming a go-to resource for online connection and information.
Longer videos are detrimental to churn; a video that drags on can cause the user to snooze and then lose…They won’t stick around to see what your app is about and how it can genuinely help them!
As my team and I have been fortunate to focus on the proptech metaverse, conducting the necessary research to refine our app, we’ve discovered that videos should not exceed 60 seconds and that the optimal length is 15 seconds. This is what keeps users engaged. For instance, with our app, agents post up to 100 videos per month, and each one is approximately 15 seconds. The images shown through these apps should always be clear and powerful – for whatever industry they serve. With our proptech metaverse app, it has been incredible to discover how consumers get hooked and can quickly obtain a vivid sense of an agent’s style and tastes through quick looks. For developers, it is all about investing in quality for these videos, so the result – amid the brevity – is captivating.
More about the metaverse’s essential ingredient (AI)
Adding AI to the user social experience of a metaverse app is an excellent way to keep consumers engaged for long-term use. AI’s incredible ability to capture informative and predictive insights through ML algorithms helps gather beneficial market information. And other markets can use this information as educational predictive indicators that translate to their industries. Also, this data allows developers and app inventors to continually refine aspects of the technology to consumer preferences. In addition, it enables the app maker to know which short ads consumers prefer and which are entirely unsuitable for them. Developers can then tailor those ads accordingly and always think ahead about new enhancements and features for the app that meet consumers’ desires and business (or personal) demands.
Getting to know you – through sentiment analysis
Another incredible component of AI that has dramatically improved the customer metaverse app experience is sentiment analysis. This technological feature of AI comprises powerful NLP (Natural Language Processing) so computers understand text and spoken word in the same way humans do. Sentiment analysis is an incredible asset for an app that includes a customer service management (CRM) component or a chat feature. It allows for exemplary service professionals to be matched with consumers based on personalities and tastes. This feature helps to improve the chat messaging application of apps; AI generates insights on the conversational style that each customer prefers.
In the real estate world, that can mean an agent would know a prospective buyer’s preferences, desired communication style (and the style they do not desire!), when they wish to be contacted or left alone, revisited at a later point…and more.
Just think about how technology has the potential to make us more sensitive human beings and how it allows us to get ahead of consumers’ needs to prevent issues. Consider how it allows us to think ahead about new technological enhancements and offerings so our app delivers something people cannot get elsewhere in the digital world.
The beauty of AI for metaverse apps is that with every keystroke and action by users, technologists and developers become more familiar with customers. They know what to do to retain them (i.e., staying on top of the “churn” aspect); they can ensure that the recommendation engine is guiding consumers; they are focused on the 360 customer view to generate customized recommendations.
Popular thinking is that one day – maybe in the not-too-distant future – all these apps may require VR headsets, special glasses and goggles. Fortunately, the definition of “metaverse” remains more expansive in 2023.
A sophisticated virtual touring experience that accounts for a consumer’s personality and specifications is perfect for those wanting lightning-speed, easy-to-obtain information and the ability to make informed decisions faster.
As developers in the proptech metaverse and in other areas where metaverse apps are a tremendous asset, we all have to keep up, constantly thinking several steps ahead to service customers’ needs – even before customers notice those needs exist.
And the New Year’s resolution must be: we will!
Thomas Ma, who hails from one of Hong Kong’s leading real estate developer families, became successful in his own right when he ventured into tech. He became an active business leader in proptech and subsequently brought his passion and in-depth understanding of real estate from international waters to the US market. Ma saw the industry shift toward large proptech platforms presenting steep financial hurdles for agents and decided to develop a new way for agents to showcase their listings. He co-founded REAL, giving agents back control of their listings to generate leads and maximize their online presence