After two long years of in-person events being postponed or reworked to fit a virtual environment, I, along with 3,000 other eager attendees were able to participate in one of the largest Web3.0 events of the year, NFT LA. With over 250+ incredible speakers, NFT LA put a spotlight on the impact that Web3.0 has already made on the entertainment and media industries, specifically NFTs and the metaverse.
For those unfamiliar with NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, here is a crash course: what makes an NFT different from just any picture on the Internet is how it was brought to life. NFTs are produced on blockchain technology, so the origin of the token can be traced back to its inception via code. As these tokens contain built-in authentication via this code, this essentially serves as proof of the creation and transition of ownership, making them non-interchangeable, or non-fungible. Because these tokens can be publicly traced back to their origin code, any copycats can be identified almost immediately by the real owners, thus making them non-fungible. End of course; simple, right?
As an expert in the digital advertising landscape, I’ve always been fascinated by the newest and most cutting-edge platforms that can help the brands I work with stand out from an already overly saturated digital environment. Since the technology available to advertisers in the media world develops at an exponential rate thanks to consumers' behaviors, it is up to us as advertisers to understand the impacts of these changes. We as advertisers also must be able to predict what will be of importance to consumers for our brands as trends are changing faster than ever. Now being an advertiser who is drawn to exciting technologies, when I first learned of NFT LA and discovered the incredible lineup of keynote speakers, I knew I had to raise my hand (or two) to attend.
Throughout the four days of the conference, I was able to network with key tastemakers and listen to speakers who discussed their roles in bringing brand and personal identity to Web3.0 and NFT projects. Speakers such as billionaire entrepreneur, Mark Cuban, & cofounder of Axie Infinity, Jeff Zirlin, emphasized the importance of seamless brand entry into NFT projects & the metaverse while ensuring product market fit. Speakers from more traditional and Web2 brands such as Mattel, DraftKings, and even Warner Bros. discussed the changes they were already seeing and how their brands were starting to benefit from these projects. The VP of Mattel Labs touched on the impact NFT projects had on their brands by being able to “broaden their reach to consumers of previous products that had left the typical lifetime cycle.”
Education - En Masse
One major takeaway is that we as marketers are still very in the early stages of NFTs - or to quote some of the speakers, we’ve entered a period for the need of “mass education.” While consumers are increasingly hearing buzz words such as the metaverse and the blockchain, this frequency does not translate directly into a true understanding of the technology behind these new words in our everyday lexicon.
Consumers first need to understand the security and the foundation for this new online world before purchasing a digital collectible of their favorite brands. Our job as marketers should be to provide the education and tools needed for consumers to seamlessly navigate and adapt to these new products and platforms. If we want to get users to lean into the projects and understand the value an NFT drop a brand has with their favorite artist, we need mass education before we move into mass adoption. For mass adoption to initialize, users first need to understand the following at a minimum:
In addition to mass education, there were three other recurring themes that emerged throughout the conference that are vital for any consumer, brand, or marketer to think through if considering entering or expanding their NFT presence.
Ownership. This point is crucial to outline when working with creators and artists. While the shift is already beginning into a decentralized online environment, ownership is moving to the people and these are the same people deciding what they want to see brands and large corporations produce.
The Power of Community
In the past, super fans of movies, clothing brands, and games were just that, fans. In today’s world, we have online applications such as Discord connecting tens of millions of users daily which allows like-minded people to come together in an immediate and interactive space. A fan of an NFT project can chat with other members of the same project in a Discord group and eventually earn the respect amongst these fellow members, sometimes even leading to C-suite level positioning for that same project.
Another example of the power of community is the availability of immediate feedback. These Discord channels function as multi-way conversations between the project owners and those interested in the project where feedback, project goals, and future element needs can be passed along almost immediately to project owners, resulting in real time feedback. Having a space for immediate feedback allows project owners to be able to listen to their members and understand what they truly want with the ability to be nimble and pivot strategically.
Play (or Watch) to Earn Model
We are learning that the brands with projects or campaigns that succeed will be the ones that contribute to the community, create and provide genuine roadmaps, and will dedicate resources to give utility back to the community. This component is especially important because consumers eventually will stop settling for sitting through 6-30s non-skippable ads without the promise of a reward for their participation.
Think about it this way - a stranger comes up to you on the street and promises a $10 Chipotle gift card and all you have to do is listen to them talk for 3 minutes. If you actually get the gift card, not so bad.
Now think about a similar situation when you’re watching your favorite online video. All of the sudden you have a 30s ad that you can’t click through to skip. You can either pay for a premium of the video streaming service OR you can get a NFT for that same brand which equates to a free sample or early access of a product drop, also not so bad. These are the kind of elements that users eventually will start to expect from brands as users place even more value on their online time.
In summary, while we as a community are still incredibly early in the space, the market has already increased 10x since its inception just a year ago. With this kind of exponential trajectory, the brands who are open minded and curious will only benefit from this new internet generation. Brands will only grow as the space for creativity and innovation will no longer be defined by a set few groups of players defining the online space as seen in Web2.
To discuss more about how the four takeaways above can be molded to help suit your brands in the Web3.0 and NFT space, stay tuned for our Twitter Space @ Code3 and for the C3 Metaverse POV.