Imagine a world where you and I can directly help people in need across the region or around the world, and be assured that a verified individual, family or organisation receives all of it quickly and can use it effectively. Disaster relief, emergency aid and refugee assistance – among others– would be transformed.
In such a world, CSR can be tracked, monitored and validated with full transparency, security and privacy with minimal delays and administrative expense. From tracking trees in a sustainably-harvested forest to making a difference in poverty alleviation to supporting microbusinesses, brands and businesses would be able to unimpeachably walk their talk.
Blockchain technology can do that, radically transforming the CSR landscape for brands, governments, NGOs, societies, families and individuals. That’s not surprising: Blockchain, one of the hallmarks of Web 3.0, has the potential to radically transform almost every sector.
For CSR, that transformation is under way, with Web3.0-enabled programmes being tested in different nations. As more nations, industries, brands and consumers commit to emissions reduction, climate change mitigation and circular economy at the core of their business, it will undoubtedly accelerate quickly – especially in our region.
There is a huge business and growth opportunity for our industry, if we will only grasp it.
Much has been said about the technical dimensions of Web3.0, particularly its impact in the data and ad tech space. Much less has been said about the broader and more strategic view, how we help our clients and ourselves to anticipate and adapt for the fast-approaching future.
As brand custodians and gatekeepers to consumers and that future, we are uniquely positioned for this role. Before we embark on this journey, however, a few stipulations:
Web3.0 and Web2.0 are parallel evolutions. Web2.0, the web we know and use to interact with each other and with brands, governments, is still evolving and ascending to newer heights with MR, VR and AR among other developments. Web3.0 will not fully replace Web2.0 for the foreseeable future; additionally, Web2.0 is critical to advancing Web3.0. We must work with both.
We must accept the inevitability of Web3.0. At this stage, it may seem like it’s only an early adopter game and that it’s safe to watch and wait and do nothing. It isn’t.
The sheer impetus in this space – the increasing involvement of governments, banks and almost the entirety of Gen Z residing there – proves that this is not going away any time soon. Nor is it going backwards – the generation that propelled all things metaverse through their gaming that gave rise to Roblox cannot be effectively reached via television and outdoor. The future – our future – belongs to them, and this is where they live. The sooner we understand that the better.
Our industry is currently presented with an immense opportunity for business growth. The key lies in our ability and willingness to seize, accept, and embrace it.
Let’s acknowledge that we do not know exactly what Web3.0 will bring. No one does. Let’s not forget that the Facebook that came to global prominence in 2009 was unrecognizable from the campus-only Facebook of 2004, never mind the Meta of today.
And let’s not beat ourselves up about the things we cannot do and instead focus on what we can. Not all brands can afford to invest in creating a purpose-built Nikeland in the metaverse, and not all brands need to. Not all agencies can invest in developing our own extensive Web3.0 capacity now, and not all of us need to.
But what we can do and need to do is test. Test the possibilities of Web3.0 – from NFTs to blockchain to privacy to metaverse to cryptocurrency. That’s the course we are pursuing at Mindshare. Testing is the only way we will understand, and when we look with understanding, to paraphrase Richard Bach, “we will see the way to fly.”
Once we’ve decided we want to fly, what next? What does a practical roadmap or flight plan into this future look like? How much budget do we allot towards testing, when ROI is a constant concern?
We may not be able to afford to go all in, but we also can’t afford to do nothing. The ROI may not be shining like the sun right now, but it is there and getting brighter by the day.
With NFTs alone, the added revenue stream of selling digital assets gives brands a chance to instantly monetize their engagements in a meaningful and impactful way. Web3.0-enabled CSR will similarly be a must-have for Gen Zers, who prioritise brands that care about the things they care about.
If we are not able to work in these spaces for our clients, someone else will.
And let’s not lose sight of utility, credibility and hype – not only when it comes to NFTs and the metaverse but in all the things we do today and tomorrow in Web3.0. Everything that we build, that we create, that we propose, must have each of those elements.
I am confident that if we consider these things and move forward accordingly, we will be able to affect and lead transformation.
By Amine Aladem, Business Development Director, Mindshare MENA