While CMOs around the world are excited about the rise of Web3 and the metaverse, they face strong challenges to adding it to their marketing mix. Speakers at a session on Decoding Web3.0 and metaverse at Campaign360 admitted that they need to overcome strong resistance from their boards and top management to advance its adoption, given the groundswell of interest and investment in the latest form of the web.
"One year ago, I would have told you nobody is talking about it and one year on people are talking about it. It is just starting, it is nascent,” said Yves Briantais, vice president, marketing APAC, Colgate-Palmolive. “It is creating some tension, because you will always have people in big companies telling you to stay focused on what you do well—but you need to tell them you cannot focus, because if you do, you will miss the train."
However, it may also be prudent for marketers to consider the reality that Web3, in its current form, hasn’t yet evolved into a decentralised form, as originally planned.
"We may give the impression that Web3 is already here, but a lot of it is not mature yet,” said Alvin Wang Graylin, China president, HTC. “The philosophy of openness and everyone owns everything... if you go to Roblox or Decentraland, the platform owners control everything. We need to be a little careful (about assuming that) if you use one of the platforms, you're part of Web3."
CMOs admitted that there was now little debate about the ubiquity of Web 3 and the metaverse, but rather whether it's important for marketers to prepare for its adoption.
"The debate about Web3 is not if it will be here, it is about when it will be here,” said Suresh Balaji, founder of Web3 Marketing Association and CMO of a financial services company. “And, with the hastened pace of blockchain development and of Web2 companies jumping into it, capital going in, and use cases being built, I think it is relevant for all marketers.”
While this may be so, it is also important for marketers to focus sharply on the use cases of Web3 in their organisations, noted Tessa Conrad, head of innovation, TBWA Asia.
"A lot of brands are jumping on the Web3 bandwagon, but every one of them needs to figure out what is their plan, where do they want to be and why,” she argued. “If you liken your Web3 presence to social [media], no brands should be on every platform posting updates. [Similarly], no brand should be everywhere and be mediocre.”
Rather than treat this as an all-new piece to marketing strategy, Colgate-Palmolive’s Briantais contended marketers need to treat Web3 as a new touchpoint. He added that marketers should have a touchpoint strategy which they can execute depending on the message and audience they want to reach. Web3 and the metaverse can be part of this plan.
Fresh opportunity for creators
As organisations and brands build out their Web3 strategy, it may also be an opportune time for content creators to up their game, although the demands of this new format may not be for everyone.
"[For creators] it is all about learning and upskilling ... we are seeing more trends towards immersive and interactive content,” said Jessica Triffitt, managing director, Asia, 90 Seconds. “The monetisation strategy is important for creators and that piece is also evolving."
As excited as CMOs are about the possibilities of Web3, including the metaverse, speakers on this panel also expressed some reservations about managing their teams and strategy in this time. For starters, the last couple of years have been a stressful time for marketers, who have lurched from Web 1 to 2, then managed the chaos wrought on their plans by Covid, only to be now tossed headlong into Web3.
Not all rosy
What’s more, marketers also need to cope with growing dissent over the sustainability of Web3, as exploding energy use makes CXOs question the viability of this medium. Then, there are larger ownership issues to be considered—what happens if an NFT is stolen, how and who do you complain to about it?
Despite these questions, speakers said there are two segments—events and gaming—that are emerging as early areas for Web3 adoption for marketers. Graylin of HTC noted that his company had conducted a series of launches and events on different Web3 platforms that worked out cheaper and more effective than virtual and real-world options. Balaji added that with an estimated 2.7 billion gamers worldwide (ranging from professionals to hobby players), this was another segment that brands could latch onto to boost their presence.
“Now is the best time to dig into your audiences... figure out where they are and build towards the future of that,” said Conrad of TBWA.
And enroute, marketers should expect some disruption to their business models. Balaji said: “Will it replace everything that came before? Absolutely not. Web2 did not replace Web1 sites and Web1, in turn, did not replace supermarkets."
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