Top brands, agencies and developers share their thoughts on Roblox's future
As one year ends and another begins, it's a great time to start thinking about what's to come.
2023 was a banner year for brands on Roblox, full of many memorable highlights that captured audiences' imaginations and attention.
Multiple industries had brands that activated (and even returned for new activations) on the platform including sports, entertainment, beauty, fashion, retail and music.
To help me gauge where the platform is headed, I reached out to several smart and talented executives from across the ecosystem who are actively building on Roblox. These are folks who know firsthand what it takes to enter this space, make sense of it, and start stacking wins together. I've personally had the pleasure to work with Justin at Walmart and Cynthia at 11:11 Media on projects with Sawhorse Productions, and I'm super grateful to be one of their partners.
Based on their predictions, I've added my thoughts and some additional context to expand their ideas further.
Brands Will Embrace Roblox E-Commerce
"As Roblox enhances its native real-world commerce capabilities, more brands will integrate Roblox into their marketing strategies for bottom-of-the-funnel goals. Tangibly tracking the user journey and conversion from digital to IRL is increasingly crucial to engage customers at the point of purchase. Various options exist for making this connection through third-party technology integration. At dentsu gaming, we urge brands to start testing these opportunities, familiarize themselves with the metrics, and adapt as more product features become available. Brands that expand these capabilities now will become industry leaders." — Magali Huot, VP Global Gaming Strategy at Dentsu
Roblox recently announced that they will begin testing real-world commerce in 2024 and expand it in 2025.
This is a big shift for the platform, which currently limits off-platform links to only select social media sites like YouTube, Discord and Twitter/X.
But with e-commerce on the way, brands will be able to use Roblox not just as a brand awareness tool, but also as a direct response channel.
By being able to track and attribute sales from Roblox, brands will be able to measure the ROI of their investment on the platform.
That's not to say that every brand will master e-commerce via this new immersive, gaming channel. But those that start testing early and figure out how to effectively drive sales via Roblox will be ones that lead this latest online shopping evolution.
Brands Will Lean Into Player Retention
"Marketing in Roblox is going to move from solely awareness-building campaigns to encompass retention plays as well. With the roll out of ecommerce in-world, brands need a strategy for bottom of the funnel activities: it's time to think about your metaverse native ecomm plan and how to drive loyalty from your communities." — Cynthia Miller, Head of Innovation at Paris Hilton's 11:11 Media
As more brands enter Roblox and find success reaching Gen Z, they'll begin to realize that Roblox is a platform that needs regular updates and ongoing attention, much like a social media channel. "Set it and forget it" is a poor strategy for those brands that want to stay relevant with the Roblox community and ultimately drive real-world sales.
For those brands who are investing in persistent experiences, they will pay more attention to not just attracting new users, but also how to keep them engaged and coming back on a regular basis. This will entail having strong game loops, regular LiveOps updates, ongoing data & analytics measurement, and testing & optimization.
More Brands Will Offer Utility, Not Just Gameplay
"In 2024, we’ll see more brands' experiences on Roblox expanding beyond traditional gameplay loops to providing the community with valuable utilities (like Walmart Discovered)." — Justin Breton, Director of Brand Experiences & Strategic Partnerships at Walmart
On the Roblox platform, popular experience typically fall into gaming genres including simulators, tycoons, obby's, shooters, roleplay, adventure, and more.
But recently there's been a whole new wave of experiences that focus on shopping for UGC items or full avatar outfits. In fact, the Roblox Discover page has a row dedicated to these types of experiences. The most popular of these experiences is Catalog Avatar Creator, which has over 1.6 billion lifetime visits.
But creators aren't the only ones eschewing gameplay for offering people utility.
Walmart has led this charge with its experience Walmart Discovered, which recently surpassed 10 million visits and provides community-sourced recommendations on fun games to play and stylish UGC to purchase. In this utility-focused branded experience, players can try on and purchase UGC items as well as portal out to games they like.
It makes sense that as brands look to show up on the platform in authentic ways and differentiate themselves from the competition, utility is a smart way forward.
When will we start seeing brands launch utility-driven avatar shopping experiences that also sell real-world goods? As early as the second half of 2024! Very exciting!
CMO's Will Realize Roblox Is the Future of Marketing
"Dear CMOs, while I’m aware that virtual worlds might look like a "toy" at the moment given Roblox's prominent role, I am nonetheless more bullish than ever before that as part of your digital transformation and investment in the future of marketing, you must recognize the power of next-gen platforms like Roblox and the instrumental role it plays in empowering youth to connect and express themselves in 3D social platforms, and very soon, shop!" — Yon Raz-Fridman, CEO at Supersocial
Gaming is the number one form of entertainment for younger generations, commanding so much attention from highly-coveted Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Roblox is a big part of this with 70 million daily active users who spend an average of 2.5 hours on the platform every single day.
As the internet continues to evolve, it stands to reason that the internet will become both more immersive and more gamified. And as that happens, e-commerce will shift from flat 2D web pages into 3D virtual experiences.
As more executives recognize this trend, they will realize that investing marketing dollars in Roblox is not just about experimenting in gaming. It's about staying on top of evolving user behavior and meeting their future customers where they already spend so much time.
Video Will Become Increasingly Important
"Video will be huge on Roblox, both on platform and across related social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube." — Stephen Dypiangco, CEO at Metaverse Marcom
Yes, I just included a quote from myself. 😉
During an Investor Day presentation, Roblox CFO Michael Guthrie discussed the company's plans to expand revenue. Currently, Roblox's revenue comes from its $3.3 billion virtual economy.
In 2024, the company plans to expand revenue by leaning into advertising. Advertising options have been rather minimal thus far, limited to static billboards and immersive portals that take people from one experience to another one.
But Roblox has begun testing video ads across experiences this year and plans to ramp them up next year. Video ads are a big step forward for the company because they command higher rates (CPMs) than static image ads.
As Roblox makes this strategic bet on video ads, after having enabled creators to embed short video clips within their experiences, it's easy to see video gaining more visibility on the platform.
It will be important for brands that want to stand out on the platform (and with its large Gen Z audience) to lean into this trend and tap into the power of Roblox-centric creative video assets that are spread out across Roblox, TikTok and YouTube.
Stephen Dypiangco is the CEO of Metaverse Marcom, a strategy and consulting firm helping entertainment and sports brands enter Roblox.