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Power Essays 2022: How web 3.0 is disrupting the advertising world – by Fusion5’s Ghida Ismail

The advertising industry must rewire its strategies and approaches to tap into the potential of new technology, says, Ghida Ismail, director, Fusion5

By Ghida Ismail, director, Fusion5

If you are still pondering whether to embrace web 3.0 or not, trust me: you have already lost out in the metaverse game of things.

This is no time to waver. This is the time to take the plunge. And it is all right if you are neither fully ready nor totally comprehend the newest jargon in the tech world that is reshaping every facet of life. After all, you are not alone.

The need of the hour, then, is to move, move fast and seize the web 3.0 opportunity.

Cutting through the jargon

What is web 3.0? You might not know it, but you are already part of the new third wave of the world wide web, which started off as a ‘read-only’ (web 1.0), when you viewed static HTML web pages with a browser. The second iteration (web 2.0) was better – it was ‘read-and-write’, with blogs and social media sites transforming passive content customers into active content creators.

And now we are on web 3.0 – where we read, write and interact, with semantic web, natural language processing, machine learning, blockchain technology, non-fungible tokens and the metaverse unlocking opportunities like never before.

What is in it for brands?

Unlike in web 1.0, when brands created websites and sought the services of web designers to create static banners, web 2.0 saw the emergence of digital marketing and offerings that are increasingly drawn on for promoting brands. Websites became more interactive, and digital marketing gained an advantage over traditional marketing with new services delivered by marketplace agencies, influencer marketers and tracking agencies.

Tapping into web 3.0, brands are becoming architects of their own influencers. Adidas, Nike, Gucci and Lacoste, among others, have already marked their presence in the metaverse, creating their own NFTs and building their own communities.

This means marketers and agencies need to pivot to new ways of working. We are challenged to push our boundaries, look beyond digital marketing strategies that are now the norm, and redefine how we
tap the borderless, decentralised world of the internet.

Tapping into the new reality

Dubai has already announced its metaverse strategy to increase the number of blockchain and metaverse companies in the next five years, while creating 40,000 new virtual jobs and adding $4bn to the economy. By fostering metaverse innovation, cultivating talent and developing metaverse user cases, the city aims to be a global hub.

This is an enormous opportunity for agencies and brands in the city and the region. This also gives us a modest vision of what will happen in the upcoming decade.

To start with, agencies must be willing to unlearn and delink from their tried-and-tested mindset. The typical cynicism towards emerging technologies, as many have learned to their disadvantage, means losing out time to upstarts who have already built their presence on platforms such as Discord. But are agencies looking at these spaces? Are they preparing themselves and building teams who understand the new intricacies?

Secondly, brands are also looking to expand their virtual real estate footprint. Many are buying metaverse assets, including Dubai, which is building its digital twin, called ‘One Human Reality’. Acura, owned by Honda, was the first car brand to build a virtual showroom on the metaverse platform Decentraland, while JPMorgan Chase and several other banks and finance providers have acquired land in The Sandbox. The question then for agencies is: Have you taken the plunge? Are you ready to support your clients if they seek to have their virtual real estate? What counsel can you give?

Very soon, the metaverse will be home to schools, museums, and more. Fashion shows are already an in thing with Estee Lauder making its debut at Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week. In the days to come, there will be greater demand from brands to know more and be more on the metaverse. Are the current ad spaces in the metaverse the suppliers of tomorrow?

Agencies need to not only understand the shifting dynamics but also assess the impact of these investments. What will the KPIs be, how do we measure campaign impact, can payments be accepted in crypto, and how will return on assets be calculated?

All these questions lead to one fundamental truth: Embracing web 3.0 is a strategic imperative. There may be initial chaos and confusion, but not tapping the metaverse opportunity could very well mean losing market share and being dinosaurs of the marketing world. No matter how big brands are now, they could well be on course to extinction.