If you’ve been paying attention to marketing, finance, social media or just about any corner of the world in the past six to 12 months, you have probably heard of Web3 and the metaverse. You’ve likely heard all the buzzwords flying around. Blockchain. NFTs. Cryptocurrency. Heck, even the metaverse and web3 themselves can be considered buzzwords. But what are they? How are they related? How are they different? Are Web3 and metaverse new revolutionary ideas for the future of the internet or just passing fads that will eventually fizzle out like pay phones and Periscope? Remember that one? And what’s the impact on media buying and planning? We investigate these pressing questions below.
What are they?
Before we get into depths of Web3 and the metaverse, we’ll define a few terms mentioned above:
Blockchain – decentralized digital database comprised of “chains” of “blocks” that store and transmit information
Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) – Unique, non-interchangeable digital assets (such as photos or videos) stored on blockchain technology that can be sold and traded
Cryptocurrency – digital currency (such as Bitcoin) stored on blockchain technology rather than controlled by a central authority (such as a bank)
Now that we have the vocabulary lesson out of the way, we can dive into Web3 & the metaverse.
Web 3 & The Metaverse
As they’ve gained popularity, Web3 and the metaverse have often been used synonymously, but they are two different concepts. Web3 is the supposed next iteration of the internet. Rather than being based on private servers and held by private companies, like the current version of the World Wide Web we all know, Web3 exists in a decentralized ecosystem based on blockchain technology. This is a novel approach to the internet that puts the control of content and processes in the hands of creators, rather than those of Big Tech. One of the leading Web3 platforms is Ethereum, a technology that allows businesses to be built on blockchain technology and virtual currency to be transacted without any interference from or reliance on middlemen such as banks or private technology companies.
Meanwhile, the metaverse is the idea for a virtual 3-D immersive world where people can spend time in an augmented reality environment. Think of the metaverse as being a sort of 3-D version of social media where you can interact with friends, family and brands in the form of a virtual avatar. At least, that’s what the companies leading the metaverse charge describe it as. Facebook is such a believer in the metaverse that they renamed their parent company to Meta in late 2021. There have already been concerts held in the metaverse, and people have begun purchasing virtual real estate in the metaverse. And now Meta is reported to be creating its own cryptocurrency to be used for payments within the metaverse, affectionately referred to as “Zuck Bucks” by employees of Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
Next big thing or just hype?
Who knows? All great and new things start with an idea. Both Web3 and the metaverse may not amount to anything, or they might become the future of the internet and have a very dramatic impact on our everyday lives and business as we know it. There has been enough buzz and money invested so far that it’s worth at least exploring a world where Web3 and/or the metaverse have supplanted the current internet.
How does this affect our little media buying and planning corner of the world? We don’t know yet. Maybe it affects how media buys are transacted. Maybe new mediums altogether are created as a result. Maybe current innovations like the Basic Attention Token, which rewards users for paying attention to ads, take off. No matter what becomes of it, it will be extremely important for us as media stewards to have a very good grasp on current and changing trends in Web3 and the metaverse.