We have all been here before and it is beginning to appear as though we will always be here; that place in a digital world where the latest new phenomenal tech-thing bursts upon the scene being touted as the next historic break-through in digital communication. As most of us are just beginning to decode the array of existing cipher speech, like cryptos, blockchains, NFTs, AI, Bitcoins, etcetera, etcetera, a whole new universe called the metaverse is ceremoniously being thrown into the mix. To avoid being embarrassed it is always nice to understand what something is and how it is relevant before we are thrust into a conversation, particularly when the true identity of a subject can be obscured by short-hand terms, often left to the imagination of those less enlightened by the rapid advancement of technology.
The newest and most advancing technology screaming into the virtual world of commerce are non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. For many of us new to this conversation, the term may sound like an ailment that needs medical attention and a cure. The fact is they are virtual, numeric tokens, or items, created on a blockchain to verify ownership of a digital asset. Think of an NFT as a certificate of authenticity. But instead of a sheet of paper, it’s a unique string of digital characters. As many of us are just beginning to understand NFTs and how they are important in the virtual world, it is clear that many virtual-world practitioners understand the value of non-fungible tokens.
By the end of the third quarter of 2021, NFTs had generated 45 billion dollars of revenue around the world. According to a Harris survey, 11% of American adults have already purchased an NFT. Some prestigious financial analysts are expecting the NFT market to represent at least $80 billion by the end of 2025. Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase says, “We are very excited about NFTs, this is going to be a very large market for crypto going forward, and it is already happening today. It could be as big, if not bigger, than the company’s cryptocurrency business”. So how are NFTs important to the metaverse, “a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users?”
The next generation of the internet, Web 3.0, will decentralize the internet and dilute the importance of Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. The Web 3.0 environment will combine machine learning with big data and promises to be a more personalized and private space for users. NFTs are expected to be the greatest influencer to the development of the metaverse. Marketers will discover greater opportunities to promote brands in an arena where content creators can thrive. “The similarities between where social media was 17+ years ago and where we are now with the emerging metaverse is wild,” says Lindsey McInerney, former Global Head of Technology & Innovation at Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Once focused on promoting ecommerce stores in the Web 2.0 era, brands will now be able to create Vstores in the metaverse, virtual showrooms where customers can tour a brand’s offerings in 3D and try on glasses, jewelry, makeup, test-drive a car and even visualize furniture and other products in their homes. Cathy Hackl, Chief Metaverse Officer and CEO of the Futures Intelligence Group said, “In 2022, it’ll be imperative for brands to partner with endemic and diverse creators across platforms. Marketers will only succeed if they realize that the ad-driven models of the web 2.0 era will possibly not work in the metaverse. Things are about to change!”
Despite all the hype and overt promises of a new digital driven virtual environment, the metaverse with all its blockchains and NFTs remains an emerging technology that has yet to be tested in a large way by consumers. Will supporters of internet ecommerce once again become pioneers and venture into a mysterious universe filled with avatars, where physical things are digital?
Hang on marketers, things are about to become really cool!