You’ve no doubt heard these terms over the past year either from a colleague at work, a media article about how a teenager “flipped” a picture of a rock for millions or from your clients asking you about how they can get amongst this trend.

In the space of just one year, terms that were niche sub-cultures of the internet, closely intertwined with the crypto community are now everywhere. As of writing this, monthly average NFT sales volume through OpenSea (The largest NFT marketplace) sits at around $3.5Bn USD.

In this article, we will look at examples of how brands are starting to take the plunge into this space, what this means for us as marketers and how we can ensure that we can stay ahead of the curve by picking up relevant skills.

For those who are not exactly familiar with what NFTs or the Metaverse is, here’s a quick explanation.

NFTs stand for Non Fungible Tokens. From an end-user point of view, these are simply a token that is not divisible which can have almost any file format attached to it. E.g: a downloadable .mp4 file, an image, a video, an event ticket in the form of a .pdf etc.

From a technical point of view, they are simply a different smart contract type (ERC721 vs ERC20 which is what tokens & coins are). These can exist on various blockchains but for simplicity sake & since it’s the most popular chain, we will talk about Ethereum based NFTs.

A crucial point to take note is the fact that when you own an NFT, there is only one original copy that is verifiable on the blockchain. The classic argument for “I can just copy paste that image” is a common one, however, if you copied an NFT and created your own version of it, it will simply be another fake copy on the blockchain. If the original NFT you copied is ever to grow in popularity, the original is what will be in demand and will have utility, not your copy.

A recent example is the launch of $APE token for Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT owners. Anyone who owned a BAYC, got airdropped (ability to claim for free) approx $100,000+ USD worth of $APE tokens.

If you simply had copy pasted the image and had your own version of a BAYC, you got nothing. Similarly, when BAYC throws events or releases collaborations, your “Copy” won’t be able to access any of these perks.

Think of it as having a counterfeit concert ticket. Sure, you can have a ticket that looks the same as the original ticket but it will not give you access to the concert you’re trying to get into.

What about the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is simply put a network of virtual worlds where people can interact, socialise, play games & more. It often sits between a concept & reality due to the fact that many people imagine the Metaverse to be something like out of “Ready Player One”. Where in reality, it’s currently more like a glorified Minecraft version.

Now, do we get to a more sophisticated version with time? Absolutely.

With advances in AR, VR & graphics processing, it is a no-brainer that we eventually have a “Metaverse” that consists of high quality worlds that enable people to work, game, interact & socialise as they wish.

So, what are brands doing?

Brands from all verticals are not only dipping their toes into the space, they are actively investing millions.

Samsung amongst other major brands have purchased land in the Metaverse.

These brands are buying up land to eventually build their own virtual stores, drive virtual foot traffic to their store and offer AR/VR experiences of their products for customers.

It is at this point, marketers who understand the metaverse will be able to help brands drive traffic to their virtual stores, create content that gets customers excited about the potential & more.

We recommend learning more about the major Metaverse projects, The Sandbox & Decentraland.

You also don’t have to be a major global retailer to purchase Metaverse land. If you are a retailer which can benefit from showcasing your products in a virtual setting, perhaps buying metaverse land and creating your own store is an avenue you should keep your mind open to.

Adidas amongst other major brands have partnered with existing NFT projects for future collab opportunities 

Brands are aware that it is often cheaper & better to partner with already established NFT projects to get themselves into the space. By doing so, they get an immediate brand boost by NFT natives as well as access to an immediate group of people who can beta test all the technical NFT plays the brands want to launch.

For example it is easier to launch an NFT project and market it via your partner channels to existing NFT owners rather than trying to onboard your non-NFT native customers.

At this point, marketers should look to network and connect with various successful NFT project owners for future collaboration opportunities with their brands.

If you think that your brand or clients’ brand will be looking at NFTs in the future, it is paramount to connect with NFT founders to ensure a successful launch.

Nike has acquired virtual sneaker NFT project RTFKT to get a foot into the NFT space.

Acquisitions will continue to accelerate in this space and marketers need to keep an ear to the ground about the various industry changes. For example with Nike acquiring RTFKT, they are expanding on their AR/VR capabilities for displaying their shoes & potentially opens a stream of metaverse centric product placement deals.

Product placement as a marketing channel is expected to experience eye watering growth over the coming years with the Metaverse growing.

Marketers should brush up on product placement strategies and start thinking about whether there are any opportunities for your brand to have a product presence in the Metaverse.

Early product placement strategy adopters with video games experienced insane growth (think ads in racing games etc.), similarly, brands who adopt product placement in the Metaverse early, will be able to capture crucial market share.

Snoop Dogg as well as other celebrities & brands have launched Metaverse centric concerts & events 

This is where event organisation skills will shine, however, no reason for marketers to be left out.

Brands & people who will be looking at organising these events will require traditional lead generation tactics. Paid ads, Influencer marketing strategies & traditional media are all going to be crucial marketing tools to drive metaverse event registrations. Only caveat will be that these brands will most likely prefer marketers who understand the metaverse.

The examples above are only a glimpse into what is to come. We are going to be seeing countless purchases, collaborations, acquisitions, events & more.

For Marketing, similar to Web2, there will be a need for content creators, communications specialists, paid marketing managers & Influencer Marketing. The holy trinity to use in the NFT space currently is Twitter, Discord & OpenSea.

The best thing you can do right now is to spend time in the space & carve out your niche. Buy yourself an NFT, join that NFT community’s Discord, follow their Twitter, interact with their members and get a sense for the culture that is being fostered.

In addition to marketing roles being adapted into Web3, there are completely new jobs being created. An example of a totally Web 3 native role is a community manager role based on Discord.

For those who don’t know, Discord is a VoIP instant messaging platform that first gained popularity amongst gaming communities. Seems like the NFT community naturally adopted the platform as well.

With Discord, projects & brands have a direct communication line to their “Customers/Holders” and it allows a more personalised experience for “customers”.

For example, trivia nights, competitions, community created events etc. are all commonplace in Discord and it is expected from Discord Managers to be organising and managing these alongside day to day jobs such as helping answer questions & provide support.

In January 2022, Gucci amongst other luxury brands started actively hiring Discord Managers. 

A year ago, being a “Discord Manager” meant that you were jobless. Today, it’s a sought after role by many global brands.

It can often be difficult to differentiate the real innovation against all the noise that is going on in the space. Laughable but curiosity inducing articles about pictures of rocks & monkeys selling for multi-millions, people losing millions of dollars never to recover only because they clicked the wrong link, kids launching NFT projects that net millions in a day, rappers advertising scam projects as the next best thing since sliced bread are all sadly part of this growing ecosystem.

Logic and history dictates that as this new sector evolves from the wild west, to something that everyone will be using in one way or another, it will become less “wild” and more “Real”. That’s when the majority of the people will feel comfortable enough to dive into the space, and you can’t blame them. However, the small number of crazy people who take the plunge into this wild west now, will become highly sought after by many looking for an expert.

Written by Omer Hazer

Omer has a background in eCommerce & digital marketing before going full time into Web3 in August 2021. He has been an early adopter of most major NFT projects, sits on the board of a major DeFi protocol, has launched and successfully sold out an NFT project, has consulted various NFT projects & is a Director of Toru Creative - an NZ based Web3 consultancy agency. Omer aims to educate people on the real potential and paradigm shift that’s happening across the Web & how people can better prepare for it.

Omer will be the MC for our upcoming Brainy Breakfast, NFTs and the Metaverse: The New Digital Frontier for Marketers on 28 April - book your ticket now!