This will be the year that brands start to get serious about integrating Web3 (aka blockchains and cryptocurrencies) into the mass marketing ecosystem; mark my words.
In 2023 there are three things that will change the brand experience landscape: marketing spend, hiring and metaverse brand open source standards (which I’ll explain later).
Want to get ahead? Here are three simple steps.
1. Allocate marketing spend.
Despite sitting on the precipice of a recession, the uncertainty around cryptocurrency value and safety of blockchain, and the admittedly confusing use of language in Web3 - for example, “NFTs, or non-fungible tokens,” really just means digital asset ownership - we’re about to see a major shift in how brands interact with customers.
According to data from Sitecore and Statista, some 80 per cent of brands plan to spend almost a third of their marketing budget (30 per cent) in Web3 in 2023. Web3 for brands is a world in which sales go much further for the consumer in terms of value - you can read specific examples of what this looks like and how Web3 will impact consumers across virtual worlds here.
The buzzwords reflect the principles behind Web3: community, value, experience and collective wealth. Building community and collective wealth together through supercharged loyalty programmes, for example, the opportunity to earn digital goods for virtual words and entertainment in virtual worlds connected to real-life experiences - beyond the product and the brand itself. In turn, consumers feel a part of the brand and, as more brands do this, will grow to expect more from a brand when they make a purchase. It happened with social media, and now social media is the cornerstone of consumer engagement.
Early examples of brands who have experimented with this include Starbucks Odyssey and Nike with its Web3 marketplace swoosh.nike . In 2023, Nike will start to experiment with digital product sales and things like IRL token-gated events or virtual activities.
2. Consider hiring for Web3 roles.
Second, expect a rise in hiring for Web3-specific marketing roles in-house. New positions, such as chief metaverse officers, metaverse marketing leads and Web3 community managers, are already being created in-house within major corporate brands like Disney, LVMH and Telefonica.
We’ll see these first recruits on the corporate side begin to build the marketing models of Web3 into their brand planning models and marketing funnels to define how to measure the success of activations as a result. While your business might not have budget for this just yet, it’s a wise idea to monitor the recruitment of these kinds of roles, with an eye on the future. LinkedIn is a good place to start.
3. Plug into CES 2023.
The main criticism of metaverse and Web3 from brands? The amount of work it will take to realise the vision of so-called ‘interoperability,’ a word used to describe the coming together of mixed reality, where everything you create or own can be used both online and offline.
The transferability of owned assets across the virtual world and experiences will require partnerships, and cooperation among brands, technology companies, and any business really. While this vision will take time, 2023 is the year in which this topic will be at the forefront of the industry conversation.
Be sure to plug into CES 2023, the annual conference dedicated to all things AI and robotics which kicked off yesterday, the Metaverse Standards Forum will unveil its plans for the ‘Road to the open metaverse’. They will discuss how the industry is moving forward with protocols for brands and builders to advance an interoperable Web3. Their site teaser states: “Achieving a metaverse for all will require unprecedented cooperation. Leaders from the industry will share their vision for an open and inclusive metaverse”. Just like every year, we’ll see the hot topics from CES continue to evolve throughout the year, it’s a must for anyone interested in learning more about Web3 for their brand this year.
A final word from me, if you’re intending to spend some of your marketing budget on Web3, don’t wait until it’s too late. Test and iterate as you go. Don’t do it alone. Partner with people who understand the space and with the Web3 technologies that already exist.
As you take the first steps, focus on the principles behind the buzzwords: community, value, experience and collective wealth for your customers, and you’ll be at the forefront of the evolution. Integrating this into your existing brand ecosystem is a way to balance both brand safety and bravery as you dip your toe in the Web3 water.
Haifa Barbari is a contributor to the Evening Standard. She is EVP of strategy and resident futurist at tech, gaming and metaverse agency Dialect.