Despite waning interest in some pockets of the ad industry, media agencies are still continuing to invest in Web3 technologies in new ways, from client activations to data management.
While the metaverse is only one part of Web3’s potential, some companies, including Disney and Meta, have recently pulled back or divested from some of their metaverse efforts, casting a bit of a pall on what only a year ago was a darling of innovation. However, agencies say clients are eager to test and utilize Web3 tools and experiences, despite the fading hype and economic instability so far this year.
“We’re used to these hype cycles in tech,” said Henry Cowling, chief innovation officer at Media.Monks. “We have a more sober outlook on the metaverse now than we have had previously on NFTs [non-fungible tokens], for example. But I don’t think there’s any reason to doubt the meta trends, [such as] with young people… spending more and more time online.”
At Media.Monks, transitioning from Web2 to Web3 has been about “making Web3 less sexy,” said Cowling. Thinking about Web3 that way helps people see past the sensation and make it more accessible, he elaborated.
In March, Media.Monks partnered with Salesforce Web3 to simplify the NFT process and Web3 data management. The platform allows agencies to help brands mint and manage NFT collections and connect that data back to their ecosystem. The application integration also lets brands create and connect omnichannel content across Web2 and Web3 with a view of the customer interactions with NFTs.
Media.Monks, along with Vayner3, Deloitte Digital and Accenture, have been a part of the group of launch partners using these blockchain and digital wallet functions. Many client conversations have recently focused on driving value with Web3, whether it is through token-gated commerce, content or loyalty programs, said Nich Seo, director of go-to-market at Media.Monks.
“A lot of brands are kind of just starting from ground zero in a way,” Seo told Digiday. “We have those that are just kind of dipping their toes into the first place. We usually start with the use case as to what they are trying to drive in terms of value for consumers.”
Cowling agreed that they have been thinking about these Web3 developments as “innovating on the future of loyalty” and what that means for brands. The agency has guided clients on testing these features, whether it is loyalty programs, avatars in the metaverse or social media and in-game content and experiences.
“How do you go from what has been a Web2 mindset of just kind of collecting points within a single monolithic platform,” Cowling added, “to something that’s more decentralized — that’s more of an emotional reward mechanism with your consumers?”
The Salesforce integrations make this Web3 process invisible on the customer experience side, while providing an easy way to build experiences for the marketer, Cowling explained.
Part of Salesforce’s NFT management also gives brands a simple way to create their collections directly on Salesforce, added with real-time customer insights, blockchain activity monitoring and automated processes. Brands from Mattel to clothing company Scotch & Soda, have used Salesforce Web3 to manage their NFTs, with some reporting adding new customers.
Scotch & Soda said a process that would otherwise take months to create its Club Soda 3.0 NFT pilot program was completed in “less than two weeks.” With the platform’s data integration, the brand was able to view real-time insights on the 30% net new customers through the program, said Claire Boots, global CRM manager at Scotch & Soda.
Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential, believes these kinds of immersive entertainment and experiences will continue to shape its work with Web3 and influencers. His influencer marketing agency in the last month partnered with decentralized virtual world The Sandbox to support client activations in the metaverse. The VR platform reported having more than 360,000 players spending 80 minutes a day on average during their Alpha Season 3.
“There’s a bit of a hype cycle where people just want to get in there and get a headline and want to figure out ways to stay ahead of the curve,” Detert said. “Those that have longevity, those that go through the process of learning what is actually going to drive value for consumers and for brands are the people that are going to be here in the next few years.”
The agency will work with The Sandbox, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, to help brands increase their presence in Web3 by leveraging influencers and creating immersive content. The partnership also entails a training program for Influential’s content creators, covering topics like strategy, transitions into Web3 and community engagement.
Detert said the agency is taking this step because consumers want a way to connect that goes beyond “regular screens on their phones.” He believes that is where the opportunity for more immersive content comes in, and there is room to bring more influencers into the business.
“I think that the kind of fervent attempt at throwing anything against the wall to hope that it would drive value, that’s done,” Detert said. “What we’re trying to do is bridge the gap, for those that are both able to drive traffic there, but also be builders inside these worlds, or celebrities that can exist in these worlds.”
Some 400 partners have joined The Sandbox, including Warner Music Group, Ubisoft, Gucci and Adidas. The gaming platform has been supporting brands aiming to create new entertainment culture, from gaming to digital ownership. Mathieu Cervety, ecosystem partnerships director of The Sandbox, said the immersive content lends itself to more engagement than passive scrolling on social media.
“Beyond that, these virtual spaces are an extension of existing campaigns, providing a virtual component to integrated marketing campaigns that stretch across all digital channels — and even in real life,” Cervety said. “These immersive experiences are a sticky way to drive interest in new and interesting ways, with brands learning in real-time what works best for their core customers.”
As Detert put it, creating these new experiences and content is a part of the current Web2.5 world. Agencies and brands are still in this transition until Web3 becomes “an integrated version together,” Detert added.
“Immersive entertainment is going to become more and more immersive as we figure out different ways for the senses or goggles… to become more the standard. Then not only will it be here to stay, it’ll actually evolve with something that potentially will be almost unrecognizable in the next 10 years.”