Metaverse to betterverse: building the web better
The dream of the metaverse is of a next-generation digital world where we’ll be able to meet, interact, shop, create, watch and play – all in harmony with the world we’ve already got. Mike White, chief executive officer at Lively Worldwide, explores this new world for marketers to discover.
Lively considers the emerging possibilities within the metaverse
You’re walking down your favorite street with your best pal. The sun has just set. It’s got the making of a wild summer night. And they all come out – rockers, hip-hoppers, punks, cyber goths, ravers, skaters, gamers, the odd Jedi Knight.
What do you do? Shop the latest from your favorite label? Try some immersive theater? Let’s catch some music. You find a small, unassuming joint, pay your entry and slip past the tuxedo at the door, emerging into an impossibly large arena. You’re sat right at the front.
The atmosphere is buzzing; the design incredible. A waterfall flows upward to a starry night sky. The audience roars in anticipation. Lightning strikes the stage, and the band descends. Is that Jimi Hendrix on stage? The whole thing’s a phantasmagorical experience. But you’re not dreaming. You’re in the metaverse.
Obvious candidates for the metaverse are gaming and retail. But it could also benefit the educational sector, making learning more exciting, engaging and effective. Or entertainment: you could be at any gig or sporting event anywhere in the world. Fortnite (among others) has already pioneered virtual metaverse concerts with the likes of Travis Scott and Ariana Grande.
The real difference isn’t what you can see in the metaverse, where experiences are more immersive and three-dimensional, but the way tomorrow’s web will be built, managed and run.
Three is the magic number
Today’s web (‘web2’) is dominated by a few tech giants. You gain access to content via their (often free-at-the-point-of-use) services, such as Google and Facebook. They make extra-normal profit selling your data to brands. Those brands in turn target you with pay-per-click/social campaigns they hope will land a purchase.
To a large degree, data has supplanted creativity.
In tomorrow’s web, ‘web3,’ the focus will be on user-built communities. Ground-up, not top-down. It’s something we’re screaming for, with 85% of us believing that big tech has too much power.
When you combine web3 with 3D metaverse functionality, it becomes powerful. People have the freedom and capability to build online spaces as they see fit. They can connect, interact, play, create, buy and sell on their own terms – and on their own turf.
Brand on the run
What does this mean for brands? Forget the hype around sky-high cryptocurrencies or non-fungible token (NFT) artworks that currently dominate the narrative. It’s true – cryptocurrencies and tokens will underpin online activity. But for brands, the real thing to understand is how people will come together, where value lies and who decides what people see.
With a user-built, community-centric web, it becomes less about mining data from big platforms and blanket-bombing consumers with ad spend. Brands need to find creative ways to be relevant to communities and play a part in their culture – or risk being shut out.
As more of our lives are lived online, the lines between our real and digital selves blur. Identity is important wherever you are. Even online, people want to create personas that express themselves. Owning digital products helps do this. Brands that can help people achieve a sense of identity, and those that are ready and willing to experiment – to get it wrong, then get it right – will move ahead and thrive.
Dancing to a different beat
Back to music for a moment. Consider that the world’s largest streaming platform, Spotify, has been known to pay artists as little as $0.0033 per stream. If profit were the only motivation to making melodies, the day the music died would have been last Tuesday. In silence.
A web3 future means that people who create music (or anything else) have complete control over the output of their work. They can more easily create and monetize communities around them, or play an important role in communities that feature like-minded musicians, artists, gamers, fashion designers, brands and, importantly, customers – people ready to part with hard-earned currency.
The sky’s the limit
With a more level playing field, algorithms and big data play a less dominant role. Sure, we’ll still do research to understand the people we’re talking to. But customer relationships (and consequently budgets) should be dramatically reconsidered with the advent of web3.
For brands to be relevant, they need to work hard to stand out, connect and play a role in people’s lives and the digital communities they hold dear. To partner with the people that shape them. Creativity becomes more important; experiences more valuable.
That may sound like we’ve gone full circle, but it probably never changed. And with the changes enabled by web3 advances, there will be more opportunities to create than ever before.
Content by The Drum Network member:
LIVELY WORLDWIDE LLC
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