To paraphrase James Carville from 1992 “It’s the Wallet stupid”.
Brian Wallace, Chief Marketing Officer, Vatom
Whenever I talk with marketers today, they almost always ask me the same question: “Should they create branded NFTs, and should they be building virtual experiences in spaces like Decentraland?” My response is always: “What is your objective?” If your objective is to give your customers the equivalent of digital swag or host a throwaway event then these can be good solutions. If, however, you’re trying to create an entirely new and massive direct customer engagement channel then you need to stop thinking about NFTs and virtual events and start thinking about blockchain Wallets.
Wallets and the Re-Birth of Direct Brand Engagement
At the risk of losing many of you at this point, we need to talk about Web2 vs Web3. I apologize in advance but it’s important.
Web2 (roughly 2004 to today) enabled the ability for non-tech people to easily publish content onto the web. This took the form of blogs, video and image sharing, and publishing platforms. Everyone could now participate directly with the web, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter attracted millions of us to their platforms. Brands took notice. Customers were no longer deciding to purchase because of the brand’s own messaging, they instead made decisions based on what others were saying about the brand on social networks or via search results. Brands no longer owned the primary communication channel with their customers. Facebook and Google did. Facebook and Google also owned all that customer data. As a result, Brands found themselves forced to pay third-party companies for access to information about their own customers. They then had to pay again for the ability to communicate with those customers. As a result, almost every customer channel became an indirect one. Because of this, our understanding of our customers is almost always incomplete – as if through a distorted lens. This is a system purposely created to keep us disintermediated from our customers – so we were forced to pay others for access. Enter Web3.
Web3 is the next evolution of the Internet. It enables many new potentially disruptive capabilities to the Web but what Marketers should be focused on today are blockchain Wallets. These Wallets are very different from your Apple or Google Wallets. They are most commonly used to buy, share, sell, and trade cryptocurrency and traditional NFTs. However, increasingly they are being used as a method to verify a person’s identity both online and in the real world. When a wallet can do that Brands no longer need to rely on third parties like Google, Facebook, and Apple to verify a person’s identity online or off. They can now engage directly with a customer, know that this person is who they claim to be, and begin a two-way direct engagement with that customer.
This is not some vision of a far-away future. Today Web3 savvy Brands who understand the power of a Wallet first approach are focused on programs to directly engage with their customers. For example, companies like iHeart have been sending access codes for special events and experiences via these wallets that can be redeemed online or in-person as rewards to fans of artists. In return iHeart has direct first-party access to information about that person: Did they engage, convert, share? etc. As more and more people engage with iHeart via their wallets the more people they have direct access to which also generates more 1st party data being directly available. This is the re-birth of mass-scale direct customer engagement that was lost during Web2.
Wallets Everywhere: How To Choose The Right One
Just over a decade ago Bitcoin released its first Wallet. It was a single-chain solution that required users to download a copy of the entire blockchain to verify transactions. Then, new cryptocurrencies, dubbed “altcoins,” exploded in popularity as did NFTs. With more coins and NFTs came more Wallets, and with more Wallets came the impossible task of keeping track of them all. Because many brands didn’t understand the importance of Wallets, many ended up investing thousands of dollars in NFT and Crypto projects only to find out that they could only reach a small percentage of their overall target audience.
Thankfully, many Wallet providers today are enabling people to manage multiple crypto-currencies and NFTs. This cross-chain compatibility is helping to increase mass-market adoption of wallets. As a result, brands will have a rapidly growing direct channel available to connect with their customers. Better yet brands are helping to increase this adoption by offering their customers wallets directly as a means to build their own direct loyalty and retention channel.
Brands thinking about their Web3 strategy increasingly must consider the wallet as both the start and end goal of all their programs. The type of wallet required to support this strategy will need 1) support for the majority of blockchains 2) support for both traditional and smart NFTs 3) support for the management of crypto-currencies and 4) be easy for non-Web3 users to sign-up and use.
About the Author:
Brian Wallace is currently the Chief Marketing Officer of Vatom, the world’s first feature-complete Metaverse platform, built with a simple to use, open, plug-in architecture that can enable anyone to create their own place in the Metaverse.
Throughout his career, Brian has built some of the world’s largest and most well-known Brands. He has held senior management roles at Google, Samsung, Magic Leap, and BlackBerry. He also held advisor positions with Andy Rubin’s Playground Ventures, the musician will.i.am, and was recently CMO of IDEMIA.
At Vatom our mission is to enable both companies and individuals to easily engage directly with the emerging Web3. We do this because we believe this will help unleash unlimited creative and financial opportunities for every person on the planet. Please visit www.vatom.com for more company information.