For nearly two decades, experiential marketing has maintained an axiom that has helped create its raison d’être: “The more digital, the more physical. Or, in other words, “The more URLs, the more IRIs”.
As the marketing ecosystem becomes more digital-centric, brands and businesses need to create physical interactions, such as conferences, events, in-store activations, street stunts, and more.
Much attention in experiential marketing is (rightfully) given to AR, VR, XR, and other hyper-reality metaverse tools. But equal weight should be given to Web 3 communities centered on decentralized autonomous organizations such as NFTs, digital currencies, index funds and tokenized communities.
Board Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) released 10,000 NFT at the end of April. Recently a single bored monkey (# 7090) sold at Sotheby’s for $ 2.9 million. Another NFT series called CryptoPunk is worth even more; in June, only one CryptoPunk sold for $ 11.7 million at Sotheby’s. The combined market cap of 10,000 CryptoPunks is now estimated to be nearly $ 2 billion.
The owners of Bored Ape and CryptoPunk (both individual and fractional) have the right to vote on what the community does, including how they spend their money. Much of this spending will be in the real world. Otherwise, why the creators of CryptoPunks Larva Labs to sign an agreement with United Talent Agency in August 2021? Or why Yuga Labs, the creator of BAYC, partner with famous manager Gary Oseary, who represents popular artists such as Britney Spears, Doja Cat, Kim Petras, The Weeknd and Madonna? Recent rumors suggest that BAYC – an URL community – will open an IRL club in Miami, only for its members.
As DAO communities continue to form, they will need opportunities to meet IRL. The more people who own NFT fractions, they will need conferences and meetings to connect with their co-owners. Think ComicCon for the characters and content developed in the Metaverse.
Friends With Benefits (FWB), a DAO community for crypto enthusiasts and content creators, recently received $ 10 million in VC funding that values the community at over $ 100 million. What was once a $ 75 membership costs almost $ 8,000. There are 1,235 members and 200 new members join (at a 40% acceptance rate) every week. FWB creates a conference and local meetups for its members who congregate on Discord, but wish to meet IRL.
Currently, discussions for these communities mostly occur on Discord and on CryptoTwitter – a niche community of developers, investors, businesses, and influencers who enjoy discussing cryptocurrencies. These two dominant URL platforms will inevitably need IRL components.
Artists use NFTs to activate, energize and reward their fans while removing labels and agents. Selling songs or digital art in the form of NFT gives artists direct access to their audiences and gives fans unprecedented participatory power. Owning an NFT can allow for dating, entry into secret shows and chats, merchandise drops, and other perks normally dictated by agents, labels, promoters, and sponsors. Artists will still need to create IRL events, concerts and gallery exhibitions, but they will not depend on labels or sponsors.
All of this should excite and worry experiential agencies, who now have the ability to create events for web 3 communities and artists, not just brands. But they need to learn a whole new ecosystem with its own rules and motivations. If agencies cannot navigate these thriving communities, the communities themselves will find ways to activate IRI.
Why hire an agency to recruit brand ambassadors, for example, if they have their own community of die-hard evangelists incited by tokens or NFTs? Why would Friends With Benefits need to find talent when it can create expert subgroups within its own membership base? These communities have local expertise spread across the globe and they can frictionlessly inspire freelancers and suppliers to activate their IRL ideas.
Fortunately, there are 3 web communities that can guide agencies and marketers through this new landscape. One is Jump, where over 150 marketing and advertising professionals chat, connect and organize at a breakneck pace.
Experiential agencies must also keep pace. After all, with the uncertainty of closings still looming and the lack of new talent, Web 3 may be its savior.
Max Lenderman is CEO of Mudfarm Ventures and a teacher at Denver Ad School and the University of Colorado at Boulder.