How NFTs could evolve for brands — now that marketers know what they actually are

For the most part, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been a bust for the marketing and media worlds, mostly the terrain of crypto buffs who invested a lot of coin in seemingly similar-looking pieces of virtual art.

That era, or what Tyler Moebius calls NFT 1.0 is rapidly coming to an end, as the 2.0 era empowers marketers and their agencies to use the Web3 technology as next-generation loyalty and data gathering tools. Plenty of examples have already popped up in recent months.

Moebius is the founder and CEO of a company called SmartMedia Technologies, a five-year-old firm with about 100 employees that plays in exactly the Web3 space, fusing ad tech with blockchain-based tech. He’s been around since the early days of the Internet, having been part of the launch team at aQuantive (remember that name?), one of the first agencies to pursue putting advertising on the web. Along the way, he also founded tech-based Adconion (which became Amobee).

The following conversation has been edited for space and clarity. 

Where are you at in the process of building NFTs, and who are some of your clients?

We’ve spent the last five years building an enterprise Web3 platform that’s purpose built for agencies, brands, and creators, with the intention of making Web3 easy. Not only for brands and agencies to be able to leverage Web3, but we’re really making it easy for the end user. 

We provide a two-tap custodial wallet, so that anybody with a smartphone can have their first Web3 wallet, be able to acquire their first NFT, and then be able to actually start to use that in terms of either digital coupons, or a loyalty token that you picked up by visiting a retail store. We have a partnership with Accenture, we have partnership with Unilever. We just did an activation for Vodafone across Europe, where they acquired 250,000 wallets. And we’re over 6 million wallets on the platform at this point.

How difficult is it to get brands to engage in this form of marketing? Is there a lot of education you still need to conduct? 

Marketers have spent the last two decades gaining consent from consumers to be able to send an email to their inbox. Now they’re seeing this as a new CRM channel. They’re seeing Web3 as a new channel where they need to be focused on gaining the consent from users to be able to send promotional digital tokens and coupons or benefits or loyalty coins to that user’s wallet. It’s addressable wallets in the same way that they think about addressable emails in their email database. It’s not taking as much convincing now,They’re less focused just around one application, which happens to be NFT drops done in the 1.0 way, they’re now seeing a much broader technology and capability.

How do you see brands using this in other ways? 

There’s a lot of different use cases around that you could imagine. If you fly Delta or United, you get lifetime status. Imagine that lifetime status becomes an NFT that I can actually hand down to my son or my daughter. Being able to have real provenance and ownership around the benefits of of a membership or a loyalty club. 

The second area that I think is really going to sort of crack open web3 is around NFT ticketing. In the future, you’ll pull out your phone, the NFT will have a QR code inside that will be scanned going into a Rolling Stones concert. Upon scanning and redeeming the NFT, it will immediately turn into a digital twin of that ticket, so I’ll have that souvenir forever. 

But not only that, it will change states and become a digital merchandise, or a coupon for $2 off Coke at the concession stand. And then when Mick Jagger’s onstage, he’ll sing this song and say ‘This song’s for you.’ At that moment, we will be able to mint that moment and that song will be embedded in all 38,000 NFT tickets. Only the 38,000 people who attended that night will have a copy of that song that they can hold and cherish forever. The Stones will know it’s an authentic song because it was an NFT. And the Stones will be able to allow for the secondary sales of those — and a percentage of that will go to their favorite charity.

What other Web3 elements do you work in? 

A big part of our of our product roadmap for the platform this year is really focused on the metaverse element, creating spatial web experiences. We believe that the future of metaverse environments is really to help augment retail in the buying experience for brands. And brands aren’t necessarily going to need to rely on the user base of a Decentraland or Roblox to be able to bring those audiences. They can use paid media and their own social channels. They can fill the metaverse like with their own brand experience. W’re focused on being able to create those custom environments. And the key element to that is around creating the interoperability of a wallet to where I can take the virtual tokens in from the physical world that I picked up at a Walmart, and actually bring that into a metaverse environment and be able to redeem it. That bridge between the physical and the virtual world is where we’re also focused on.

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