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Ad Age will open a new front in advertising’s future when it unveils its inaugural list of Web3 Marketing Trailblazers in 2023. Ad Age is taking submissions for the debut award (entries close Jan. 31), and it couldn’t come at a more appropriate time, as brands are just starting to figure out that there is more to Web3 than NFTs and crypto tokens.
Indeed, one of the criteria for a Web3 Marketing Trailblazers honor is that projects go beyond a basic NFT drop or one-time token promotion. Marketers and brands can, of course, use these tools, but Ad Age wants to recognize the brands that are cultivating Web3 communities, developing loyalty, rethinking business strategies and frankly, designing cool … stuff.
It also can’t be emphasized enough that Web3 is not crypto. Even as that market takes a tumble with the FTX debacle, Web3 remains on the horizon.
Ad Age has been tracking companies for the past year, and there have been exciting projects—Reddit’s NFT avatars, Forever 21 in Roblox, a Notorious B.I.G. concert in Meta Horizon Worlds. And Ad Age has covered agencies including Media.Monks, which is an expert in using the advanced computer graphics system Unreal Engine for brands such as Oreo, Google and Nike. Major ad agencies including Accenture, Havas and Mediahub are testing virtual workspaces and collaboration in the metaverse.
Last week’s Art Basel Miami Beach might have had fewer crypto evangelists than in years past, but it was still a showcase for Web3 concepts. Major brands including Porsche, Nike’s RTFKT and Instagram were activating.
Ad agencies and brands need more help than ever to understand what parts of Web3 will transform their businesses. Marketers also need to know the pitfalls—and benefits—of the metaverse and crypto communities. Whether brands like it or not, their logos, icons, services and products will be dragged into the metaverse. Just look at McDonald’s after an enthusiastic Web3 creator started a project called McRTFKT earlier this year, which blended the fast-food chain and Nike’s RTFKT in a surreal mashup of digital artistry. The project was later removed after not having the official backing of either brand.
Brands and ad agencies have employed Web3 and metaverse specialists to navigate these thorny issues that arise.
Web3 is already more than a gimmick. Consumers might be a little slower to port their entire lives into the digital realm, but companies are already there. Major automakers, financial institutions, retailers and others are using the most sophisticated cloud computing, artificial intelligence and connectivity to get the most efficiency out of their operations, including advertising.
Last month, French carmaker Renault Group touted a deeper partnership with Google Cloud, using technology such as “digital twins”—computerized counterparts to real-world products and operations. In October, consulting group McKinsey put out a report about how digital twins are one of the first steps along the way to building the “enterprise metaverse.”
Any visionary at an ad agency, internet company, startup, brand or Web3 community is up for this honor. Ad Age is looking across the landscape. A Web3 trailblazer could design digital clothing, plan concerts in Fortnite, launch NFT-based loyalty programs, create stylish avatars or work with virtual influencers. The Web3 trailblazer could be an expert in augmented reality or AI-generated art. Most importantly, a Web3 trailblazer sees the potential to build the next generation of brands with technology that is just being built today.
Ad Age is taking submissions until Jan. 31.
In this article:
Garett Sloane is Ad Age’s technology, digital and media reporter. He has worked in newspapers from Albany to New York City, and small towns in between. He has also worked at every advertising industry trade publication that matters, and he once visited Guatemala and once rode the Budapest Metro.