The one-of-a-kind digital assets that are changing the game
Digital artist Beeple made headlines in March 2021 when his NFT sold for a cool $69m USD at a Christie’s auction. But what is an NFT? How – and should – brands use them? And are they a passing fad – or something here to stay? To talk us through the tech is Studio Messa’s Creative Director, Jess Ticchio, a NFT artist creating 3D dreamscapes and virtual sculptures who is also a founding V1/V2 artist on Foundation – an NFT platform with currently over 25,000+ artists.
What is an NFT?
NFT stands for non-fungible token – essentially, this means it has unique properties and can’t be interchanged with something else. NFTs are one-of-a-kind assets in the digital world that can be bought and sold, and the token is the way of showing ownership of that asset. An NFT could be anything, really: digital artwork, a photograph or image, or even digital clothing.
With more and more of our lives going digital, and the advent of the metaverse, it’s no wonder owning digital assets has now become a thing. In fact, it’s more than a ‘thing’ – it’s a growing market and we’re only really seeing the beginnings of it. According to WGSN, there were 6.9m Twitter and Reddit mentions, and 1.07m #nftcommunity tags between 3rd April and 28th June 2021. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, consumers spent $2bn USD on NFTs.
Is this more than a temporary hype?
It looks that way. Jess says: “This technology is just a glimpse of the way of the future, the digitisation of assets, and our world moving more and more into the metaverse.”
Global brands have jumped onto NFTs too, using them to experiment with creative marketing strategies, so this doesn’t feel like something to dismiss. Take Asics, which auctioned off a collection of NFTs and gave proceeds to the digital arts community. Or adidas, which created a collaboration with Karlie Kloss and dropped that collab inside virtual marketplace Decentraland, where attendees could get a free (virtual) pair of shoes for their avatar to wear.
What are the benefits of NFTs?
Why create (and own) an NFT, over, say, a ‘real life’ painting? Jess says there’s more than one benefit: “Digital artists now have a way of selling their artwork which was previously impossible. They can independently release artwork and collections without requiring an agent, gallery or third party’s help. It also gives financial liberation for many artists who would usually have to take on undesirable freelance work to make ends meet.
“Like investing in a physical painting or sculpture, an NFT is an investment in an artist’s work as it may accumulate in value over time. Most NFT platforms offer the original artists a percentage of resale profits too, so the artist can continue making profits from the work in the future.”
What does this mean for brands?
When it comes to marketing, NFTs open up a whole new realm of possibilities. NFTs allow brands to create virtual events that could be more cost effective than ‘real life’ ones – and given the current novelty of it, it’ll probably make a bigger splash.
Jess says: “NFTs can be used for digital amplification around an event, experience or activation. Through integrating NFTs, elements of an experience can live beyond the actual event – essentially making that event work harder.”
It may come as no surprise that Gen Z and Millennials are spearheading the NFT revolution. Security.org found that those aged 18-44 were twice as likely to have bought an NFT compared to the rest of the population. So, for brands looking to target a younger generation, this could be the way in.
What’s next for NFTs?
We’re still very much at the beginning of this technology. “The general public is still getting their heads around the concept of a digital asset,” says Jess. “Many people don’t understand the value in owning something that doesn’t exist in the physical world. But NFT galleries emerging, and digital photo frames (such as infinite objects) are some ways this gap between physical and digital worlds are being bridged.
“I don’t know what the future holds but seeing this tech evolve so quickly in such a short time makes me feel like the potential is truly unlimited. NFTs aren’t just a fad – they’re here to stay.”