Read my lips; content marketing will soon be driven by NFTs (non-fungible tokens) technology. The technology started gaining traction in 2021 after being spotted by Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter. Mark my words: NFTs are the future.
“Minted” in 2017, CryptoPunks is a collection by LarvaLabs consisting of 10,000 unique digital assets based on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s an 8-bit-style collection of 24×24 pixel art images representing misfits and eccentric “punks.” Crypto Punks are the first big NFT project to take off like a rocket ship, and have seen trading volume over $1.6 billion since they launched.
According to statistics from 2021, the year closed out with over $25 billion in total NFT sales volume, up from $340 million in 2020. That is a staggering 7,200% year over year growth rate, which is absolutely mind blowing.
NFT technology was also used to launch CryptoKitties, a virtual cat trading game. This is significant because for the first time NFTs were made well-known among cryptocurrencies.
In a tweet dated March 6, 2021, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced Valuables, a blockchain platform that allows people to buy and sell tweets signed by their original creators. Founder of Bridge Oracle, Sina Estavi, reportedly paid the equivalent of $2.9 million for Dorsey’s March 21, 2006 tweet “just setting up my twttr.” This was the first time an entire company used NFTs. Again, we see how NFTs are growing in popularity and will be the future of content marketing and brand engagement.
NFTs and the Evolution of Brand & Content Marketing
Before we go further into what NFTs actually are and how they have the potential to revolutionize absolutely every facet of marketing, commerce, and digital interactions, let’s first look at the evolution of brand engagement and where we are today.
Prior to the Internet, brands had very few ways to interact with their customers in environments that they owned and controlled. They could certainly rely on advertising on radio, TV, and at live events such as sports games, but other than that, the options were limited. They really only had the opportunity to control the customer experience in their own stores, and through direct postal mail once they obtained their customer’s information. Once the Internet came along, the opportunity to engage and interact with customers transformed practically over night, and this is what the evolution of brand engagement looks like:
- Retail stores & brick and mortar experiences – brands relied on their customers physically coming into their store to interact with them.
- Websites – once the Internet became more widely accessible, brands could now attract their customers and potential customers to come to their websites.
- Email – when email took off, this further enhanced a brand’s ability to interact with their customers and allowed them to send newsletters directly to their customers’ inboxes.
- Social media – going a step further than email, brands could now have two-way conversations publicly with their customers, and customers could now follow, share, like, and interact with a brand’s content.
- NFT communities – and now with the rise of NFTs, brands are able to essentially sell participation in the brand experience, and offer NFT holders special access to brand perks, exclusive digital communities, VIP rewards and benefits, that are not available to non-NFT holders. NFTs make it possible to “cream skim” the most loyal fans and customers and bring them into a much deeper and closer relationship with your brand than ever before.
Now that you know where we have come from and where we are going, let’s dig into what NFTs are actually all about.
What exactly are NFTs? How Exactly do NFTs Work? How are NFTs the Future?
Described as a digital asset with unique characteristics, non-fungible tokens are a particular type of cryptographic token.
It operates similarly to Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies), where network computers compete to solve mathematical problems to encrypt a dataset and generate a cryptographic key. Only NFTs are not interchangeable; they are non-fungible, in contrast to other token types.
So, where a Bitcoin token is like a blockchain-verified dollar bill, an NFT is like a blockchain-verified artwork.
If all five-dollar notes had the same value and were interchangeable, it would not matter which one you owned. Instead, what counts is what piece of art you own since different artworks have different values, both financially and artistically.
A digital hash is assigned to each NFT during encryption, which differentiates it from all other NFTs of its kind. It acts as a fingerprint: no two are alike. NFTs can be used to verify an item’s authenticity by using them as serial numbers. A central authority does not issue the serial numbers, nor do new Bitcoins come from a central bank. The vast majority of NFTs today are based on Ethereum. NFTs are designed to represent specific parts of digital assets, and the blockchain network verifies each.
NFTs are the future of content marketing because have their unique identifier encrypted every time they are bought and sold to indicate ownership. This means that anyone who has access to the network can view the owner’s information, but the NFT cannot be accessed without the cryptographic key that the owner possesses.
NFTs are most frequently created as image files. Twitter, MP3s, and other digital files can also be attached to them. NFT allows you to own and trade digital assets, which are widely available and easy to copy, to begin with.
NFT presents exciting new opportunities for digital marketers regarding access control and digital distribution.
Branded content distribution and monetization are being taken to the next level, thanks to NFTs. Let’s take a look at how NFTs are transforming modern branded content marketing.
The New Model of Content Ownership
The rise of NFTs has rekindled discussions about creating a new media ownership model that puts creators at the center. Creators can retain ownership of their content, regardless of whether they are brands or individual artists. Consequently, NFTs can change the ownership model of media by providing a viable monetization option for creators, audiences, and blockchain developers.
Earlier this year, Lindsay Lohan launched her own NFT on Rarible, an online asset marketplace. A badge representing a lightning bolt is attached to her image with an earring inscribed with ‘LIGHTNING.’ The piece was purchased almost immediately for 10 ETH (~$34,800) and resold later for 33 ETH (~$114,842).
With Rarible, as per Lindsay, a portion of the resale value always goes back to the original creator and, in this case, will be donated to charity.
Content marketing could take an exciting turn in the future if we study this new form of distributed media ownership and monetization. Any digital asset is now worth what it sells AND how many memes it inspires.
TikTok videos are valued by the number of views they have gained and the number of inspired copies. Each copy is slightly different from the original because people put their unique spin on it. As more memes appear from the original video, it becomes more valuable and popular.
Enhancing UGC (user-generated content)
Any brand can benefit from co-creation like this. Despite brands’ concerns about the NFT potential, they have yet to reap the benefits of NFT that make branded content remixable and non-fungible. NFTs help brands establish that they are the valid owners of their digital assets. It also disproves that other copies are user-generated.
Using this method, brands can retain complete control over their digital assets without limiting their distribution or fearing maliciously modified versions being mismatched to them.
Using crypto in storytelling
In short, NFT is a blockchain-based (aka crypto) storytelling platform that allows anyone to list and sell digital assets using cryptocurrency.
A digital certificate proving the authenticity of a video can prove its uniqueness. You plan to make money off the difference in value upon selling it. With NFT, all future transactions will generate a commission for the video creator or original seller. Content creators have access to NFT’s strong community and can extend their reach to potential buyers.
The exciting thing about NFTs is that they do not limit themselves to digital art. Virtual apparel is used extensively in the gaming industry to dress gamer avatars by fashion retailers.
Protecting Branded Content by Combating Deepfakes
It becomes increasingly essential for NFTs to prove ownership of online content as online content authenticity gradually becomes the norm. That’s when NFT comes into its own.
Rather than simply protecting digital content from theft or copying, NFT video or audio certification is much more powerful. With NFT, your digital content is authenticated worldwide and protected.
If any brand claims that its official brand videos are only available via publicly accessible NFT, it could encrypt each of its public media interventions.
Think about what it would be like if someone hacked your brand video and converted it into a deepfake. Using NFT encrypted videos as proof and claiming the footage is fake if it isn’t present in NFTs, the brand could avoid any legal dispute.
For this reason, NFT can be a valuable tool for minimizing and avoiding potential reputational damage that may result from deepfake video distribution and information manipulation.
Increasing Brand Awareness and Collecting Data
NFT technology can increase brand awareness and affinity in addition to providing a new user experience. NFTs can be used with programming to deliver campaigns across a wide range of digital platforms. Personalized gifts, discount coupons, and more are available to customers through NFT technology.
Using NFTs, brands can monetize ads multiple times over; they can use storytelling and collectible assets to enhance equity or use early access tokens to build buzz ahead of product launches and events. NFTs, give brands access to a whole new revenue stream by selling goods digitally.
As well as obtaining data, they can also reward crowd-funding. For years, companies like Starbucks and P&G have been sourcing product ideas from consumers. As a result, co-creators can own a share of the final product.
NFT proceeds are often donated to charities by brands. Developing a brand as a valued member of a community is not only important, but it’s also essential if you want to reach the needs of today’s consumers, including millennials and Gen Z buyers, who are measurably more likely to buy from purpose-driven brands.
NFTs Are The Future: Takeaways
There has been renewed discussion on developing a new media ownership model in response to the rise of NFTs. Smart contracts powered by blockchain enable a new decentralized and distributed media ownership model, allowing creators of digital assets to profit from their work directly.
The future of digital marketing is outlined by exploring this new distributed model to monetize digital media. TikTok videos are valued not just on the number of views they receive but also on how many copies they inspire. It is only a matter of time before those meme’d versions become popular and valuable.
I expect to see more brands experiment with digital collectibles as NFTs garner mainstream attention. Through creating exclusive experiences, brands can generate higher revenues and interact with their core fan base. The digital media creators will bypass existing platforms and directly monetize their audiences by using new business models. If I’ve said it once…I’ve said it a million times…NFTs are the future of content marketing.