21 March 2022

It’s time for digital marketers to dip their toes in Web 3.0

Web 3.0 is about to explode the internet as we know it, and digital marketers need to keep pace. Currently, it heavily relies on data sharing, such as when consumers interact with different websites and apps - all of this data is harvested and later used to tailor our news feeds according to our interests, or in recent times, censor what we can and can’t see. This is beginning to change.


If you’re a digital marketer - existing or budding - who is yet to dip their toe in the metaverse pool for fear of it being bitten off by an AI shark, it’s time to come out from under your Web 2.0 rock. It is time to get to grips with the metaverse, NFTs, blockchain and the ‘new internet’ as you will come to know (and love) it.


The Web 3.0 upgrade, in a nutshell


Web 3.0 is a blockchain-based layer that sits on top of the internet in its current form - sorry, what? Yes, it is the third generation of the internet. We’re not quite there yet, so the definition is constantly shifting, but to put it simply:


  • Web 1.0 was the OG of the internet, where it all began. It allowed us to search, surf, click and type.


  • Web 2.0 allowed us to build, design and sell, as the likes of social media and the ability to develop an online identity was formed.


  • Web 3.0 goes further, aiming to bridge the gap between the digital and physical realms. Not only creating an identity profile on the internet but actually entering it and living in it. It also addresses the global issue of data privacy by returning this ‘identity’ to its rightful owners.


Blockchain, non-fungible tokens, virtual reality, and the metaverse are all part of Web 3.0, so this new internet phenomenon is not the ‘future’ - it is already here. Although it hasn’t fully taken over yet, the groundwork is well underway, with the intention of creating a better future for the estimated 4.66 billion people who use the internet.


The concept of Web 3.0 is to decentralise the internet and pay a little more respect to the valuable, free data that is being thrown all over it every second of the day. Consumers are not commodities, and Web 3.0 believes that everyone should be able to make money from the internet - not just Mr Facebook and Master Google.

So, why the upgrade?


The problem with Web 2.0 is that most of the value and power is held by digital superpowers, like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. Content creators and brands no longer own their virtual ‘real estate’ and must bow down to the tech giants at every turn. With more data comes more control, more money and more rules on what we can do or say on the internet.


That’s where Web 3.0 comes in. Web 3.0 takes the modern functionality and slick UX of Web 2.0, but with the decentralised, community-minded ethos that we had way back in Web 1.0. The big idea is that tech giants no longer profit from users; instead, funds go directly from users to the creative products and services they deem worthy of investing in. Facebook no longer owns users’ information; users own their information.


What does this mean for marketers?


In the Web 2.0 world that marketers live in today, Google and Facebook control vast pools of data. Whenever a consumer asks for a service, their data is sent to its provider and control is essentially lost to the superpowers who now ‘own’ that data on their servers.


Not only can this data be hacked, as we have seen so many times over the last year, but big companies can also engage in data brokerage, which sees consumer data thrown all over without explicit permission. Marketers in Web 2.0 engage consumers with catchy design, clickbait memes, and carrots-on-strings designed to improve traffic flow to a business and generate leads.


Web 3.0 will remove some of these permissions rules and accessibility hurdles. Web 3.0, also called the ‘metaverse’, will act as a virtual ‘front-end’ for the decentralised web. This creates a virtual space for consumers to communicate, interact, play, and buy. As a result, brands are rewarded for creativity and innovation rather than being the biggest player on the field. Still with me?


Taking back some power


In this new era of the internet, users are aware of their own worth. Marketers can no longer buy user data from tech giants because in this new world, the tech giants don’t hold all the power - the power is in the community. This could be worth its weight in gold from a creative marketing perspective.


If, like me, you’re all about the big idea, pushing boundaries and making some noise, this switch to Web 3.0 will undoubtedly separate the marketing wheat from the chaff. Marketers and brands with the most creative ideas and the most hype through community engagement are set to win.


The more virtual Web 3.0 environment enhances the user experience with richer and more interactive advertising opportunities, rewarding hard-working marketers with the long-awaited ability to deliver more target ads to their consumers with fewer boundaries.


Who’s already at it? 


The Australian Open understands how critical creativity is when attempting to net a piece of the Web 3.0 action. The grand slam tournament sold 6,776 AO AO Art Ball NFTs, which each linked to a 19cm x 19cm plot of each tennis court surface. If the winning shot from any of the 400+ AO matches lands on that plot, the NFT metadata was updated in real-time to highlight the match information.

Nike has recently filed patents to protect the digital versions of the much-loved Swoosh and its digital slogan ‘Just Do It’. It’s the first step towards making and selling virtual Nike-branded sneakers and apparel. The success of these items will have nothing to do with buying Facebook ads but will instead come down to how excited the NFT community gets about Nike’s creative designs.


It’s easy to see Web 3.0 as an internet eutopia, but NFTs aren’t always perfect. Hermès recently made headlines when it sued American artist Mason Rothschild for selling ‘furry MetaBirkins’ NFTs inspired by its Birkin bags. Clearly, Web 3.0 will lead to some legal and ethical battles that brand and digital marketers alike are going to have to fight together.


Where should brands be focussing their efforts?


With so much new vocabulary and technology to get our heads around, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To avoid getting lost in the metaverse, take things slowly and dip your toe in the water with a creatively-driven NFT sale or augmented reality brand showcase.


By getting you and your team used to the new creative challenges required by NFTs and the metaverse, you’ll be much better placed when this brand new technology finally transitions from niche to mainstream.