The metaverse and web3 – the future of the internet?

Digital
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The metaverse and web3 will create new opportunities for brands and marketers alike to connect with customers and online communities. But, is the world ready to embrace web3 and the opportunities it provides? Let’s take a look.

The metaverse, web3 and the history of the internet

The metaverse itself is a nebulous term that’s hard to pin down. As a result, most marketers prefer the term web3 (or web 3.0).

But, according to leading metaverse and web3 strategist Cathy Hackl: “Web 3.0 and the metaverse are intrinsically linked, but they are not the same thing.”

She added that “Web 3.0 centres around how people, spaces (places) & assets (things) are connected in this new iteration of the internet, while the metaverse centres around how we will experience the future of the internet, which is enabled by many different technologies.”

But, to fully understand web3 and what it offers, we must first understand what web1 and web2 involved, and how the internet has evolved over the past few decades.

Web1

Web1 dates back to the early days of the internet, when people viewed technology with suspicion. Remember, in the 1990s and 2000s, many businesses speculated about whether they even needed a website at all.

The hallmarks of web1 included low bandwidth, forums, emails and static HTML. At this time, internet purchases were not trusted and mobile phones were only for those who could really afford them. All aspects of the web were decentralised, and functionality was basic.

Web2

Around 2004, broadband internet became more common in homes and web2 began to revolutionise all things digital. In the web2 era, we welcomed social networking, eCommerce, mobile, video, sharing and influencers.

Cost-per-click began to matter, everyone got a smartphone and brands launched apps. In this era, Facebook ruled and SEO was king.

While everything was decentralised in web1, everything was decentralised into platforms by web2. This brought huge conveniences during the mass adoption phase of the internet.

Web3

In 2016, we then saw web3 emerge for the first time. At this stage, glimpses of virtual technology started to appear, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency.

In this era of the internet, creators began to gain power, and user engagement and communities became all-important.

In the last year particularly, we’ve seen web3 adoption begin to gather pace. In our current era, NFTs have taken a life of their own and immersive 3D worlds have become commonplace.

Today, web3 promises to decentralise everything once again. However, it will still provide us with the richness and advanced functionality of web2.

Brands already in the metaverse and embracing web3

For many marketers, the metaverse is a relatively new concept and only really came to prominence when Mark Zuckerberg announced the Meta rebrand of Facebook in October 2021. However, some brands and businesses are already ahead of the game and have been investing their focus in the metaverse and web3 for the last couple of years.

For example, JP Morgan has already set up a lounge in Decentraland, a 3D virtual world browser-based platform. Similarly, Nike created its metaverse studio back in June 2021.

With other brands such as Playboy creating NFTs and McDonald’s launching virtual restaurants that serve up NFTs, some of the world’s biggest brands are embracing this technology and reaping the rewards.

The metaverse and web3 – the view from Spike 

So, is web3 here to stay? Well, yes. But, we think adoption will be slow. After all, although web3 has hugely innovative dynamics, it’s unlikely to point us completely away from the mainstream web2 in the near future.

That said, the internet is constantly changing. NFT technologies aren’t perfect at the moment, but this doesn’t mean innovation is rubbish. It also doesn’t mean these technologies won’t improve further in the coming months and years.

With sites like Brave and Steemit tokenising search and social, we’ve already begun to see the adoption of web3 technologies in the mainstream world. Plus, with a LeBron James NFT recently selling for north of $21 million, it’s clear to see there’s an appetite for new technologies.

But, overall, considering the world was slow to embrace web1 and web2, the way the world awakens to web3 is likely to follow this pattern, too.