At Geile/Leon, we meet every Wednesday to discuss different trends in marketing, communications and all aspects of business. It’s fun and always insightful to find new perspectives, explore new technology and identify changes in different industries. Sure, we have a good time doing it, but it helps us focus on how we can capitalize on different trends and technology to help our clients evolve and stay at the forefront of their markets.
This is why, at Social Media Marketing World 2022, there were a few technology-driven trends and ideas that really captured my attention. These were futuristic trends. Not fully formed or even fully understood, but trends that held great potential for marketing. Early adopters may still be learning how to harness this potential, but #SMMW22 made it clear that these are trends that every marketer should watch closely.
Throughout the conference, Web 3.0 was always part of the conversation. Especially during keynote speeches. It’s the latest (and if you asked anyone there, the greatest) technology to leverage machine learning, AI and blockchain to achieve real-world human communication. Not only will it let every individual access their own data, but they will also be compensated for their content and time spent on the web.
So what does that mean and how did we get there?
Let’s start at the beginning with Web 1.0, which we saw as the static web. It was the birthplace of the website. No algorithms or real-time engagement. Basic, centralized and simple.
That evolved to where we are now: Web 2.0, the social web. It’s highly centralized by companies like Meta (Facebook and all its other platforms), Twitter, Google, banks and more who make money on interaction-based usage of their platforms.
The next evolutionary step will be Web 3.0 (aka web3), a decentralized internet that empowers every single user and places great importance on free speech. Every person who uses web3 can monetize their own data and maintain their own privacy. It will be faster and more secure with a highly personalized experience.
One of the most innovative byproducts of web3 is the Metaverse. It’s not fully defined yet, but it will be the successor state to today’s mobile internet. However, it’s too early to fully understand how marketers can utilize it or what it will become. What do we know? It will revolve around virtual experiences in the physical AND virtual world. While web3 focuses on people, places and things, the metaverse is where you will experience the future of the internet.
The metaverse shouldn’t be confused with Facebook’s Meta, but it’s also no surprise that Mark Zuckerberg most likely chose that name to link itself to this new idea. The metaverse is a network of 3D worlds that you navigate as an avatar. It is focused on social connection, enabled by AI, blockchain, NFTs, AR, VR and gaming. While it’s a virtual world, your interactions will be very real, and users will be working, shopping, socializing and playing together.
Matthew Ball, an influential venture capitalist who has written about the Metaverse extensively, believes that just as smartphones revolutionized tech, the economy, and society itself, the Metaverse will do the same.
Non-fungible tokens, AKA NFTs, are scarce digital assets that represent real-world objects like art, music, videos, etc. They cost real-life money and each have unique identifying codes. They are also unique investments – the ultimate collector’s item that some believe will change investing forever.
The $174 million that has been spent on NFTs (according to Forbes Advisor) gives evidence to that prediction. But why spend millions on a digital asset when you could easily view or download the image or video that copies it for free online? The NFT’s unique identifying code is proof that you own it…and all the digital bragging rights that go along with it.
We’ve seen big brands like McDonald’s, NBA, Taco Bell, Gucci and Nike (just to name a few) utilizing these digital collectibles to build connections and engagement with their fanbase. Not only can this build brand loyalty, but now the NFT owner is truly invested in the brand’s success because it can only help their investment. And keep in mind that NFTs don’t require shipping or storage overhead, plus there’s no worry about product defects.
Bottom line: people are essentially buying the brand itself instead of the products that brand produces.
Web 3.0, the metaverse and NFTs are all in their infancy stages, so Geile/Leon isn’t necessarily adopting them into digital strategies. However, it would be unwise for us to not continue to watch how they unfold in the marketplace to see what impact they may have on the digital world.