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Storyboard18 | Demystifying what Web3 means for brand marketers & advertisers

Experts decode Web3 possibilities for modern marketers who are exploring the future internet that will be driven by blockchain technology and token-based economics.

June 28, 2022 / 01:22 PM IST
At the foundation of Web3 is blockchain technology and decentralisation. (Image: Alina Grubnyak via Unsplash)

At the foundation of Web3 is blockchain technology and decentralisation. (Image: Alina Grubnyak via Unsplash)

Web3 is marketers’ shiny new toy. While there is enough excitement about the future of the internet in the marketing community, every brand maker is defining it differently. Future-ready advertising agencies think it is mainly because Web3 is still a work in progress. The right thing for marketers to do is to observe, learn, and use it in the right context and brief, advertising executives tell Storyboard18.

Month In Focus Int Logo vootThe premise of Web3, as per computer scientist Gavin Wood who coined the term, is simple. While Web1 opened up the internet, Web2 led to the birth of trillion-dollar technology companies which not only own a lot of infrastructure on the web but also have a lot of influence on users, their content, and above all their data. They dominate the web. Web3 is a truly decentralized version of the internet where users will have control, giving them the upper hand. And blockchain is a key technology behind Web3.

Wood, who is one of the co-founders of Ethereum and founder of blockchain infrastructure company Parity Technologies, thinks Web3 ideally will make users trust how their data is being used, especially by brands.

Building immersive experiences

Global sportswear giant Nike is known for thinking ahead when it comes to building consumer experiences and brand narratives. In November 2021, Nike launched Nikeland, its purpose-built metaverse space. Hosted on Roblox, Nikeland is a place where Nike fans can meet, socialize, take part in promotions and engage with a whole range of brand experiences. According to Nike, 7 million visitors have spent time in Nikeland since it launched in November 2021.

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Web3 is the foundation of a parallel universe with its own ecosystem that expands the advertising and media industry in scale and innovation, believes Vishnu Mohan, partner and chief growth officer, Dept, one of the fastest-growing independent global digital agencies.

According to Mohan, with Web3, brands will have the opportunity to deepen their relationships with more immersive experiences through the creation of a new ecosystem that will give birth to re-imagination, innovation, disruption, new behavioural patterns, and transactions. Just like what Nike is doing with its Nikeland.

Mohan shares that with Web3 advertising and channel planning will be conceived differently for the real world representing “who you are and for the virtual world of who you want to be.” He further says that Web3 will re-establish digital trust and put the concerns around privacy at bay. This will move “the focus of industry to customer experience which will yield the most important outcome of loyalty.”

All about data

At the foundation of Web3 is blockchain technology and decentralisation. Varun Khiatani, who works on strategy at creative shop Talented, says, while the other elements of Web3 like NFTs and tokens still have a long way to go in terms of India’s policy-making, the blockchain itself is definitely here to stay and will change the way privacy and transparency will be perceived in the future.

Khiatan says, with the direction that personal data privacy is headed towards, it’s no surprise that users would rather own their data instead of having companies sell it to advertisers. The increased usage of ad blockers and platforms phasing out third-party cookies only bolsters that argument.

When data moves to the blockchain, “consumers will not only be able to own their data but also track its movement on-chain. This ability to track the movement of your data can very quickly fill the trust gap that exists between consumers and companies where privacy is concerned,” he explains.

This will help advertisers to verify if ads are being viewed by users or bots by tracing where the data has travelled on-chain- which aids data-driven decision-making for campaigns.

“India is uniquely positioned to take full advantage of what the blockchain has to offer. We’re already seeing blockchain-led initiatives doing rounds in the offices of public policymakers where transparency and traceability could bring a paradigm shift in the way things are run,” says Khiatani.

Tokenization and virtual shared spaces

Among the most important Web3.0 promises are tokenization and the idea of virtual shared spaces, says Rob Norman, former CEO of GroupM (North America) and advisory board member of several technology and data companies.

“The first allows for an economy of sorts through the provision of shared currency which, with agreed value, allows anyone to own and trade a digital asset. As importantly it allows for the immutable record keeping of those transactions. This is important for publishers and for brand owners in simple economic terms but also in respect of data ownership and permissions for use,” he explains.

So what does this mean for brands? 

The notion of virtual shared spaces expands the range of experiences that can be created by and for professional and personal users. “Bandwidth and devices are now widely distributed, all that’s left is for people other than games publishers to invent and distribute the right experiences,” adds Norman.

In 2020, gamers around the world spent $70 billion on games without any possibility of returns. But Web 3.0 gaming could change that. Games will be designed and built by incentivising and engaging users and developers with the promise of token-based rewards. Luxury brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Seiko, and Tag Heuer are collaborating with popular games wherein players can buy assets such as sunglasses, clothes, bags, and sneakers, to make unique digital personalities. Experts think this will democratise fashion as a category.

“Those experiences and the appropriate tokenization will be characteristic of much future consumer experience and become the next surface in which brands need to establish presence and relevance,” concludes Norman.

Note to readers: Storyboard18’s new Month In Focus initiative spotlights themes and topics that are pushing marketers to reshape and rethink how brands interact with today’s customers. Our theme for this month is Stacks & Strategies, a martech and adtech spotlight on how decision makers and marketers are advancing the adoption of new technologies and tech-driven strategies  in the brand marketing ecosystem. From the defining trends and preparing for a cookiepocalypse to how progressive martech strategies help fast track business and brand growth. Catch this special on Storyboard18.
Priyanka Nair is Assistant Editor of Storyboard. Storyboard is Network18's flagship platform focussed on the advertising & marketing community and a leading source of news and analyses on the business of brands
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