CES 2022: Diving into the creator economy in the crypto era

As NFTs and cryptocurrency explode in the cultural zeitgeist, they are becoming an increasingly important part of brands’ content strategies.

Agencies such as VaynerMedia have created entire divisions dedicated to the blockchain-based digital artwork industry, while brands including Barbie and Balmain, Taco Bell and Adidas released their own NFT collections last year. Facebook’s parent company rebranded as Meta, staking its claim on the metaverse name. 

The momentum continues to grow. NFT trading platform OpenSea has just reached a  $13 billion valuation. Agencies and brands, including Mediahub, have begun to invest in the “metaverse,” digital worlds that enable online social interaction. 

While current iterations of the “metaverse” still exist on Web 2.0, or the modern internet as we know it, blockchain enthusiasts dream of the day when Web 3.0, a decentralized version of the internet, will allow everyday users to create, own and sell various IPs. 

But in a world where the creator has all of the power, what are the opportunities for brands? 

To start, brands can use the metaverse to dive deeper into the creator economy and back a creator’s growing following, said Scott Greenberg, CEO of Blockchain Creative Labs and co-founder of Bento Box Entertainment, a FOX animation studio, at a panel at CES on Thursday. 

In a session titled The Creator Economy in the Context of Crypto, Greenberg said the key incentive for brands to invest in Web 3.0 creators is the fact that content and IP does not have to exist within the confines of a  third-party platform, such as social media. 

“Help[ing early adopters] become mainstream and taking advantage of new tools, we can create more value for the audience member, the IP owner or creator.” 

But while the space is still nascent, brands need support from a studio or company to help execute NFT and crypto projects, Greenberg added. 

For instance WWE, an early adopter in the space, dropped its first NFT collection in April, just in time for its biggest tournament of the year: WrestleMania. After releasing several NFTs around WWE star The Undertaker, the league continued with a summer drop of art of John Cena.

Now, WWE is working with Fox Entertainment and Blockchain Creative Labs to build its own platform where it can release NFTs as TV shows and other artwork. 

But Scott Zanghellini, SVP of strategy and head of revenue development at WWE, says that in order to enter the NFT space, brands must begin talking about crypto, NFTs and Web 3.0 to engage a curious and passionate audience and educate its fans. 

“The one thing that we’re always conscious of is it has to be organic, especially with a rabid fan base,” he said. “You can’t just throw something out that doesn’t make sense.” 

He added that WWE had a right to enter the NFT and crypto spaces by leveraging the talent and fandom around its wrestling stars. 

“They connect with our fans in a different way,” he said. “We use our talent to help educate our fans.”

As talent talks more about blockchain technology, fans will take more interest in it. 

Zanghellini cautioned, however, that brands must constantly produce fresh content to properly engage the community, rather than one-off drops. 

“You have to roll with the punches because there’s [always] changes, especially in the world that we live in today,” he said, noting that WWE tries to bring outside creators and athletes in to keep things fresh. “You have to be ready for anything.” 

This story first appeared on campaignlive.com. 

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