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Marketing Brand Strategy Metaverse

The metaverse hype crash is the best thing to happen to web3

By Barry Fiske | Senior vice president, Global Experience & Innovation



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March 28, 2023 | 8 min read

For The Drum’s deep dive into web3 and AI, Merkle’s Barry Fiske argues that the metaverse’s ‘hype crash’ is a gift, because it brought us back down to Earth.

A view of a meteor crater from an airplane window

In recent months, metaverse hype came crashing to earth. That’s a good thing, says Merkle’s Barry Fiske / Westwind Air Service via Unsplash

Only months ago, the metaverse was white-hot. It was all anyone wanted to talk about. If you wrote an article and you wanted it to trend, all you had to do was put ‘metaverse’ in the title.

No more. Today, the metaverse buzz has been eclipsed by artificial intelligence (AI) hype.

Some might say that the metaverse missed its moment. I disagree. In fact, I would argue that the metaverse hype crash is great for the future of web3.

Be more than cool

All that frenzied hype around the metaverse had brands jumping into web3 just because it was cool, leading to the creation of a lot of dumb experiences. Now that all the heat is gone, brands can get back to the real work of creating experiences that solve real customer problems.

Despite the chill, the metaverse remains an incredible opportunity for brands to add real value to customers’ lives. That’s because you can see things differently in virtual or augmented reality; you can own things differently with blockchain; and you can understand things differently when you can manipulate them in 3D. The metaverse is where all that magic happens.

Gen Z still believes

Here’s another reason to remain optimistic about the future of the metaverse: even with the hype crash, the next generation is still high on web3. According to Dentsu’s just-completed ‘Consumer Navigator’, confidence in crypto is down 39% year-over-year, but confidence in the metaverse is way up, with an 18% increase in consumers viewing it as part of their future over the next 10 years. Similarly, ownership of virtual goods grew 5% over the past year. The share of respondents spending higher amounts on them is also on the rise.

Hype versus real value

So, with all this good news, what’s the secret to succeeding today with the metaverse and web3? It’s simple: ignore the hype and focus instead on practical ways to use web3 technology to add real value to real people. Here’s what I recommend.

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1. NFTs: identity over art

The old hype thinking was that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were collectible art. The smarter practical advice is to treat them as a way to prove identity. Thanks to the unique nature of the blockchain, owning an NFT should be like owning a unique membership in a club – one where a brand can identify you and reward you with personalized perks (and you can sell that membership to the next person who wants to buy it).

2. Virtual worlds: events over hangouts

The old hype thinking was to create a space in the metaverse that was so cool, people would want to visit and hang out. It’s a bit like those old party phone lines from the 1980s – remember those? Probably not.

The smarter practical advice is to double down on what’s proven, like using your virtual space to host large virtual live events. This is working. The metaverse makes big events exciting, unique, accessible, and special. It’s no wonder that for most of Gen Z, their first concert experience will be in the metaverse.

3. Augmented reality: not just a game

The old hype thinking was to use augmented reality (AR) to add a layer of gamification to real life. Then, we were told, people would relish earning points and discovering a hidden world in their everyday environment. Really?

The smarter practical advice is to use AR to add instructions to real-world situations: pointing your phone at an appliance to reveal directions for installation or cooking instructions. That’s not a game, but it is exactly what people are looking for.

4. Act like Microsoft

If you’re looking for an example of a brand doing web3, well, try Microsoft. It is winning in the web3 game, not with flash or sizzle, but by focusing on productivity. The innovations Microsoft is driving with web3 technologies (recently on display at CES) are all about making work and collaboration simpler. It’s a great lesson, and one we all can learn.

If you want your brand to thrive with the next generation of customers, don’t believe the hype (or lack thereof). Take my advice: embrace the practical. Focus on the ways you can add fundamental value and help your customers solve problems. Then and only then can you look to see how web3 technologies can help. That’s where you’ll discover the future of the metaverse.

For more hot takes and cold hard looks at the emerging tech landscape, check out The Drum’s deep dive on AI to web3.
Marketing Brand Strategy Metaverse

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Merkle is a leading data-driven customer experience management (CXM) company that specializes in the delivery of unique, personalized customer experiences across platforms and devices. For more than 30 years, Fortune 1000 companies and leading nonprofit organizations have partnered with Merkle to maximize the value of their customer portfolios.

The company’s heritage in data, technology, and analytics forms the foundation for its unmatched skills in understanding consumer insights that drive hyper-personalized marketing strategies. Its combined strengths in performance media, customer experience, customer relationship management, loyalty, and enterprise marketing technology drive improved marketing results and competitive advantage.

With 13,000 employees, Merkle is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, with 50+ additional offices throughout the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. Merkle is a dentsu company. For more information, contact Merkle at 1-877-9-Merkle or visit

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