What’s in a name? B&T was at the Right Click Save conference at Bondi Pavilion and listening to speakers talk about NFTs, metaverses, Web3, blockchains, URLs, IRLs, and Gen Z. It’s enough to make your head spin.
However, amongst the relentless game of buzzword bingo, there was some clarity. And, crucially, something for advertisers and marketers to take note of.
Michelle Grey, co-founder and CEO of NFT creator platform and Web3 creative agency Culture Vault explained that Web3 and NFTs were the next step in building loyal customer bases.
“It’s a really good way to galvanise communities around membership, loyalty, and rewards. The adoption isn’t quite there yet but, the things I’m talking about — creating loyalty rewards and membership — are still very nascent.”
In many ways, the overriding theme of Right Click Save was building communities. During the conference, named for the oft-used put down about NFTs — all one need do is right-click and save as to pirate a piece of digital art — speakers discussed at length how these new technologies would be indispensable to businesses in the future.
“It’s very expensive for brands to reach their fans,” said Lana Hopkins, CEO and co-founder of some.place a Web3-based rewards and benefits platform for brands to connect with customers.
“If you look at the cost of advertising, it’s going up, and up, and up… and advertising is becoming increasingly scrutinised and much more difficult. Consumers are also becoming aware that they do not want to be a product of advertising.
“The fundamental problem that exists for brands and their retailers is the lack of engagement and connection and that they are losing touch with their fans. So, we’re thinking how to solve that in the context of what blockchain can offer in terms of ownership and control and giving that back to people, as opposed to corporations.”
In practice, giving back control to people can take a number of forms. For example, Run It Wild’s Katie Tholo explained how it worked with the Australian Open on its AO ArtBall NFT project.
“[The AO] came to Run It Wild looking to be an innovator in this space,” she said.
“The AO has always had that as part of its brand identity and this was a really natural next step… We released 6,776 ArtBalls and they were all connected to a 19×19 centimetre plot.”
The most interesting part of the ArtBall campaign, according to Tholo, was being able to leverage existing sports data and marrying it to blockchain technology.
“The biggest question that the community will have is how do you scale from it? We’re releasing a smaller collection this year that will be integrated as part of the overall collection and the concepts of match winning points that are connected to real plots and live data will continue for many years to come.”
Perhaps the biggest problem with NFTs is that they are widely perceived as inextricably linked to extremely online individuals looking for a fast financial return. Remember when large portions of the internet were losing their collective minds over Justin Bieber buying a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT for almost AU$2 million? That same token is now worth around AU$100,000 — if anyone wants to buy it.
According to Grey, and almost everyone else at the event, this reading of the NFT market is missing the point.
“It’s a really good way to galvanise communities around membership, loyalty, and rewards, and it’s a way to engage with customers.
NFTs can also serve a broader purpose rather than simply existing as a nice digital image.
“An art token would be a beautiful piece of digital art — it doesn’t have any utility attached to it. You just buy it because you think it’s really beautiful,” she explained.
“A utility token is something that has a future utility. If you’re a brand and you want to create a community and offer them membership rewards, or if they own a token, they can come to your next three events, or they can have a dree drink. Basically, they get access to some sort of reward.”
While this will doubtless prove enticing to marketers, the industry does perhaps need to consider the way it talks about itself. Over the course of the talks, speakers — whether they were digital artists, worked creating their own metaverses, worked agency side, or other various creatives were talking about the bear market they were currently operating in and whether they were bullish on a particular currency, token, or idea.
While around 46 per cent of Australians own some sort of investment outside of their super or primary dwelling and around one-quarter of Australians own cryptocurrency, converting these speculators into members will be challenging. What will be even more challenging is convincing the majority of Australians that NFTs are, in fact, safe and do not necessarily represent some form of financial speculation.
Communicating this change will be down to marketers and brands. A range of companies are already seeking to get involved in the space. Nike, for example, launched its .SWOOSH digital community last month.
“A report found that 20 per cent of brands have already invested ad dollars into the metaverse, while another 36 per cent are considering doing so,” said Hopkins.
For agencies, the size of the task can seem daunting, as well as insignificant at the same time.
“It’s a bit of a ‘How long’s a piece of string?’ question,” said Tholo.
“It depends on how big the initiative is, how big the planning is, or how integral it is to the organisation’s objectives over the next three, five, and ten years.”
However, the advice for agencies from Right Click Save is clear — the metaverse, NFTs, and Web3 are not going anywhere.
“Within the next couple of years, agencies will be transforming,” she continued.
“And when we think about budget lifecycles, there might be some companies that are adding metaverse or NFT budget lines for their staff to invest in. When agencies see that, that’s when they’ll all say ‘We need to move quicker than we are.'”
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