How will Web3 transform the Creator Economy?
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This piece is part of Stagwell’s Marketing Frontiers series on the Creator Economy, Influencer Marketing, and Social Commerce.
From new monetization channels for Creators to content formats to experiment with, Web3 will unlock a new chapter for the Creator Economy. Just as fast as influencer marketing hit its stride, this next era of the internet is forcing the players of the modern Creator Economy to rethink how influence can drive results. Authenticity, deep consumer-to-creator connections, and compelling content will still be the bread and butter of good influencer strategy. But how will Web3’s focus on a decentralized internet impact the ways creators, agencies, and brands interact? How can Creators help brands explore meaningfully in the budding Metaverse – and bring consumers along for the journey? Explore POVs from Stagwell’s marketing leaders on where the Creator Economy is headed in the Metaverse.
A New Class of Creators
It’s difficult to imagine how the Metaverse will transform human existence writ large, much less how it will impact creators. To anchor speculation in something solid, it’s helpful to focus on three current aspects of the creator economy that may change the most when we turn on headsets, join in the Metaverse, and drop out of our IRL lives: expression, intimacy, and ownership.
Expression — Today, we may not think of event planners, architects, industrial engineers or sound designers as creators because our current social media access points don’t reward this type of talent. But in the Metaverse, it’s easy to imagine a new class of creators who at once will be able to plan an event, design an environment in which to hold the event (including lights and sound), and sell proprietary virtual products.
Intimacy — Following creators on social can feel like keeping up with a friend. As we interact in immersive, live experiences where creators exist in front of our goggled eyes, an already intimate experience will likely become even more so.
Ownership — The Metaverse will likely rewire the economics of how creators get paid. In a business with so many competing players — including tech platforms, talent agencies, and brands — creators have been subject to unfair business practices. They have formed non-profits to help restore balance in a still-forming industry. Like reinvented Bowie bonds, creators and their fans may co-own a creator’s work and the value it creates — in the spirit of Irene Zhao, an Instagram Influencer who explains why she created a DAO token to offer her fans.
Web3: Enter the Age of Virtual Avatars
One of the issues that most creators face today is the indirect way that they earn compensation for work – they work tirelessly to excel in the industry and in turn increase the ad revenue and stock prices for the social platforms that can flip the switch on an algorithm at any time, significantly impacting the potential income of creators. Web3 and its central premise of creating a decentralized internet will provide a more direct link between creators and their fans. Expect this to increase the influence of creators who take steps to establish their footholds in this space now. These technologies, including virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchains, smart contracts, and cryptocurrencies, provide the tools to be fairly compensated for their work and allow creators and their communities to curate and claim ownership of their creations.
Ultimately, new business models centered in Web3 will lead to a more immersive, decentralized metaverse. As digital worlds evolve beyond simple games and marketing campaigns into fleshed-out worlds with avatars, digital goods, and experiences, the curious will seek guides to make the most of the experience, just as consumers currently look at Pinterest to plan a trip, or purchase items based on trending TikTok videos. Smart creators will adapt and prepare to meet – or lead – us in these digital spaces, pushing the boundaries of their current content and tapping emerging technology with the mindset to sell (or gift) it directly to their fans. Can you imagine a personalized birdwatching tour with a creator in a yet-to-be-created digital world or the opportunity to own the copyright of the first-ever video your favorite creator edited in the Metaverse? These unbelievable experiences are here, and creators and collaborative brands will lead the way in making these attainable to those who are currently only passively curious or dismissive of the vast opportunities – and income – available in future digital worlds.
Web3 and the Power of Nano-Influence
The future and the way we connect is changing rapidly. The terms Web3, NFTs, and cryptocurrency inherently bring up many questions surrounding money and how we will “pay to play” in the digital future. To adequately talk about Web3, we first need to understand Web1 and Web2. While Web1 focused on the consumption of information, Web2 concentrated on creating and sharing information under a 3rd party-controlled system. Web3 has set to disrupt this system, bringing power back to creators and individuals by decentralizing the internet.
What does that mean for the creators and influencers that dominate the spaces Web2 has created? Estimates suggest U.S. influencer marketing will surpass $4 billion in 2022, leaving some to wonder if the practices and apps of Web2 will fall by the wayside once the “switch” to Web3 has become a reality.
However, the switch for these influencers from Web2 to Web3 may not be as complicated as it seems. With the decentralization of the internet that Web3 promises to bring, there are new opportunities for creators to make a name for themselves outside of the platforms that made them famous. DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) will allow creators to make money directly from their fan base without the middleman profiting off their efforts. NFTs, tokens, and cryptocurrency will enable fans to fund creators and potentially upend the existing relationship between creators and brands.
Trustworthiness is increasingly one of the most critical aspects of an influencer’s success, and with that in mind, it’s the nano-influencers who may gain the most under this shift. Authenticity is at the core of what Web3 promises. It will potentially be a place away from the control and persuasion of big business and those who find success in this new digital world will be those who are trusted most by their audiences.
Many say that those who profit most under Web2 will likely profit the least under Web3, but as Web3 unfolds, it’s up to agencies to pay close attention to this shift and see where we can fit into this new space. The best practices we have lived by for all brands in Web2 may be far more complicated in the Web3 space. NFTs will become a huge revenue source for some brands, while others may want to focus instead on activating their presence and engaging in the Metaverse. The change to Web3 won’t be a “light-switch” moment, but now is the time to start discussing and advising clients to be ready and stay close to their agencies as we look to succeed in this new digital universe.
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