Based on what I’m learning from both conversations and demonstrations from some of the most visionary executives I know (folks like venture capitalists Fred Wilson and Matthew Ball), I’m certain this change is coming faster than you think—and it will be seismic.
If nothing else, just follow the money. Leading venture capitalists, as well as tens of titans such as Snap, Tencent, Microsoft and Facebook (now known as Meta) are pumping billions into what they see will become a new computing platform that bridges the real and the virtual.
Already, tens of millions log on to platforms like Roblox and Epic Games’ Fortnite every day—yes, to play games, but also to create, trade, buy, sell and socialize. They are just scratching the surface of what Web 3.0 can be. It won’t be yet another new place to advertise, but rather something that warrants an entirely new blueprint for what it is we do.
Here are some of the big issues CMOs and CEOs should be thinking about:
Start figuring out your metaverse talent structure
Twenty years ago, we saw the proliferation of interactive ad agencies, search shops, and mobile specialists. It made sense to compartmentalize digital media, until it didn’t. Web 3.0 is not something that companies can leave to a few specialists or put to the side. Leaders need to ensure that these skills and knowledge permeate an organization from the get-go, so the entire company is poised to capitalize once the metaverse takes hold in society and business.
The metaverse won’t belong to one company—it will require an array of partnerships and new entrants across the ecosystem
While Web 3.0 is often described as a platform being incubated in Silicon Valley, if the past decade has taught us anything, it’s that technology only goes so far without the most innovative storytellers. Media companies (and yes, brands) should play an instrumental role crafting what it is we will all do in the metaverse. So get started developing best practices in areas like AR, VR and virtual games—today.
At the same time, just as we saw in social media and video platforms like YouTube and Twitch, I’d expect we’ll see a whole new crop of companies and creators emerge who specialize in building this new world. It's incumbent upon marketers and media companies to forge alliances early on and figure out where best to invest.
Let’s get privacy right from the outset
Over the past few years, we’ve seen how consumers and regulators have responded to advertising that has gone too far in infringing on privacy, leading to a sometimes painful unwinding. At the same time we’ve seen marketers unwittingly play a part in funding misinformation, hate speech and other Web 2.0 ills. Web 3.0 promises to be even more intimate and potentially more vulnerable to these issues. Thus, the industry needs to come together to establish a set of common standards and methodologies so that we can avoid the mistakes we’ve made in digital media. It’s vital that we play a leading role in maintaining a sense of humanity, creativity and purpose.
To be sure, there are a host of major issues to grapple with and contemplate over the next few years. None of this is easy.
Subscribe to Ad Age now for the latest industry news and analysis.
\At the same time, we should also pause to appreciate what an enviable opportunity we are all being presented with. Over the past two decades, so many of us have contributed toward building an industry from the ground up that enabled so many new businesses to thrive.
Now, we get to do it again, but on a much grander scale, filled with nearly limitless possibilities.