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While novel technologies and new trends are always resisted by the general public at first, timeless inventions eventually achieve mass adoption. This is true regardless of the time period, invention, or trend whether it was the first wheel, the first printing press, the first light bulb, or the invention of the internet and, subsequently, social media. In fact, many of the most important inventions in human history were misunderstood or feared by the public when they first hit the market.
Entrepreneurs and historians alike speculate as to why certain technologies achieve mass adoption and historical significance yet some do not. While the public perception of any new technology is positively influenced by the support of a handful of visionaries and evangelists who can see the bigger picture when others do not, the technology itself must provide real value to the end-user in order to survive and thrive in the future.
Michael Heller, founder of Talent Resources, is an experienced entrepreneur who has built a career on using new technology to help brands connect with potential consumers via creative marketing campaigns incorporating celebrities, athletes, musicians, and influencers. Talent Resources is a 360 marketing agency that acts as the largest agnostic bridge between brands and talent (celebrities, athletes, musicians, influencers).
As an innovator in the industry and as someone who was early on how Web 2 could enable new opportunities for engagement and profits for brands as well as talent, Heller is excited about Web 3. To this point, two years ago, Heller hired a team of experts to help Talent Resources research and explore how these innovative new Web 3 technologies can enable new opportunities for brands and talent. As a staunch advocate for the promises of Web 3, Heller finds himself in a similar situation to when Web 1 and Web 2 hit the market.
Web 1 was actually coined upon the advent of Web 2 and represents the first iteration of the internet with its static, read-only, HTML pages. Throughout the early and mid-1990s, websites mostly acted as a hub for information where visitors were only able to search for and read information, not interact with it or other people.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, marking the transition to Web 2, websites became far more interactive, enabling functionality and communication tools previously unavailable during the days of Web 1. Coined by Darcy DiNucci in her 1999 article titled, “Fragmented Future,” the term Web 2 refers to the evolution from static websites into more dynamic websites with new communication functionalities. In addition to other innovations, the main difference between Web 2 and Web 1 is marked by the ability for users to generate content on a website, originally in the form of comments and eventually in the form of social media posts.
The rise of Web 2 sites, including social media, also coincided with the rise of reality TV and the reality star, further allowing Heller to expand his reach and hyper-focus his tactics. Heller distinctly remembers having to convince brands as well as celebrities to see the value of and get on social media; in fact, most decision-makers at these brands as well as most celebrity managers were actually advising against getting on social media at this time. Of course, Heller’s visionary foresight would be proven correct as social media is now an integral, if not the most important part, of any brand’s marketing strategy as well as of all celebrities’ day-to-day lives.
During the end of the Web 1 era and the start of the Web 2 era, Heller and Talent Resources solidified themselves as the premier agency utilizing the internet and social media to help pair celebrities and influencers with brands that wanted to target the same demographic and psychographic groups of the fans and followers for a given celebrity or influencer.
During the early days, Heller disrupted the advertising and marketing space by creating intelligent marketing campaigns out of what the public thought were candid moments of celebrities interacting with a brand. Heller was an innovator of this strategy as he famously facilitated one of the first partnerships of this kind with Century 21 and Kim Kardashian. The Talent Resources team had paparazzi capture the Reality TV Star and Business Mogul leaving Century 21 after what looked like an impromptu and authentic shopping spree leading to a ton of organic press. Heller would hone in and evolve this strategy over time as the internet evolved.
Now, Heller and Talent Resources have more celebrities to connect brands with as social media has democratized fame by helping anyone with a smartphone potentially achieve influencer status. Due to the rise of social media, Heller has more opportunities to match influencers with brands for creative marketing campaigns and take advantage of the increase in ‘digital’ real estate to promote these partnerships. Instead of having paparazzi arrive at the physical location of a celebrity in order to photograph them walking out of a particular store, with the hopes that news outlets will pick up the story, now Heller and the Talent Resources team can organize a simple and authentic, but highly-valuable social media post showing a celebrity or influencer interacting with a brand in their everyday life and in their own words.
Heller enthusiastically describes the difference, “Instead of a celebrity being on a billboard on behalf of a product or brand, a celebrity, or influencer, can now post a photo of themselves, on their platform, using the product in their own life.”
This is far more effective because it comes off as more sincere; talent can show their fans how they incorporate a product from a given brand in their everyday life, which is more authentic and believable. Further, these types of posts allow brands to reach niche groups of consumers via influencers who have followers that fit their target groups of hyper-specific demographics and psychographics. By reaching these groups of people through a famous individual that they already trust and are fond of, the message is more sticky.
Experiencing deja vu from the early days of the internet and of social media, Heller is currently convincing brands, talent, and anyone who will listen to take Web 3 seriously. Heller and the Talent Resources team believe that Web 3’s smart blockchain contracts, decentralized peer-to-peer networks, non-fungible tokens, and dynamic virtual experiences are about to change the finance, entertainment, and marketing industries as we know them. Emphasizing decentralization, openness, transparency, and machine learning, most experts agree that Web 3 has the potential to revolutionize how we use the internet as well as how humans connect & interact with one another. This is precisely why Heller is strongly advocating his clients — brands, celebrities, musicians, athletes, & influencers alike — to explore these new Web 3 possibilities.
In the same way that Heller and Talent Resources helped brands and talent monetize the new digital opportunities that arose from social media, Heller and the Talent Resources team plan to help brands and talent monetize the plethora of exciting new opportunities arising from Web 3. In fact, brands and talent will be able to monetize these Web 3 opportunities in similar ways to how they monetized the Web 2 opportunities, but now there is greater opportunity for communication, interaction, creativity, and ownership.
Heller and the Talent Resources team are exploring each and every opportunity surrounding Web 3. They believe that both brands and talent will have the opportunity to either create their own branded crypto-coins or NFT collectibles as well as cross-promote and partner with each other. Heller is exploring the concept of utility tokens as well, which will allow brands or talent to create branded coins or collectibles that prove ownership, accrue value over time, as well as unlock special deals, content, and opportunities for the owners. Heller is excited about these opportunities as they will not only foster more engagement for brands and talent, but they will also help create a community and facilitate limited opportunities for super-consumers or super-fans.
Beyond utility coins and collectibles, Heller and his team are also exploring how virtual reality can enable new interactions between brands and talent so that both parties can reach their shared followings and drive engagement. Regardless of whether brands and talent utilize existing virtual reality environments like Facebook’s Metaverse or if they decide to create their own ‘universe’ via the Sandbox, the opportunities for partnerships, communication, and engagement are endless. Some celebrities, such as Snoop Dogg, are already finding success exploring this concept, proving Heller’s point. Despite only recently announcing the ‘Snoopverse,’ to be hosted on the Sandbox platform, a buyer already purchased a virtual property next to Snoop Dogg’s virtual home for $500,000.
Further, performers have already begun hosting virtual concerts and events in various virtual reality environments. This is a great opportunity to reach fans and find a new revenue stream for musicians when they are not physically able to be at a particular location (for any Covid or non-Covid reason); this is also a great opportunity to help fans who may live across the globe experience a concert that they would not be able to get to otherwise. Of course, performers will be able to tier the ticket prices, further giving more fans, across various economic brackets, access to events. These virtual events can coincide with ‘traditional’ ‘in-person’ events, thereby allowing a performer to exponentially increase engagement for one performance.
Looking at all facets of the Web 3 ecosystem, Heller and Talent Resources are already in discussion with companies like AdMixthat sell virtual billboards and advertising space in video games. This model can be applied to Web 3 virtual reality environments as brands may want to connect with celebrities or influencers to create specific virtual advertisements to be posted on a billboard in the Metaverse or the Sandbox.
Recently, Heller and Talent Resources put together a handful of ‘in-person’ events during Super Bowl Week including the Sports Illustrated Super Bowl Party, the Bloomberg Super Bowl Panel, and a Neiman Marcus Event. These events all touched upon Web 3 in some way. Heller and the Talent Resources team incorporated Web 3 ideas into the Sports Illustrated Super Bowl party by helping Sports Illustrated turn the event ticket pass into an NFT collectible which serves as a keepsake that will potentially accrue value over time. Additionally, the main sponsor of the Bloomberg event was Crypto.com.
As Heller and Talent resources have always been pioneers on the front lines advocating for how technological innovations, specifically with Web 2, can serve the needs of both brands and talent, it should come as no surprise they are doing the same for Web 3. With the goal of vertically integrating his clients across all Web 3 opportunities, we are excited to see how Heller drives this space forward.