Dirk Lueth, co-founder of Uplandme, Inc., on CX Decoded
CX Decoded Podcast
May 17, 2022

CX Decoded Podcast Episode 13: Marketing and Customer Experience in the Metaverse

The metaverse is certainly all the rage in 2022. Facebook changed its name to reflect this future of digital, after all, and all things digital starts with Facebook. Ok, maybe not so much.

Some are even talking trillions when considering the potential of the metaverse, where physical and digital worlds combine to support an alternate reality to life on the actual planet Earth. Instead, in this next iteration of the internet, life will exist in the world of augmented and virtual reality where dialogue, games, commerce and business is conducted in this alternate reality. The market opportunity for the metaverse ranges from $3.75 trillion to $12.46 trillion, depending on the share of the digital economy that shifts to the metaverse and market expansion, according to Statista reporting.

What does this all mean for the world of marketing and customer experience professionals? What are the opportunities for customer experience design and brands who want to stay connected to their customers — whether they live on the actual Earth or in the metaverse?

CX Decoded caught up with, Dirk Lueth, co-founder of Uplandme, Inc., a Metaverse provider. Lueth, an entrepreneur and early adopter of metaverse and blockchain technologies will share his thoughts on the Metaverse and where the potential opportunities lie. 

Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript has been edited for space and clarity. 

Rich Hein: What's up Dom?

Dom Nicastro: Ready for another round Rich, Let's get to it, let's get to it. Great to be here today.

Rich: Yeah, Dom You know, today we're here to talk about the metaverse, and this is one of those areas, I think, where we've all been hearing a ton of hype, and today we're going to try and dispel some of that.

Today's guest will share his thoughts on where we've been, and where we're going regarding the metaverse, and when and how marketers and organizations alike should be preparing for this.

Dom: The metaverse. Is that Facebook?

Rich: I think they made a movie about it.

Dom: Ah, okay. I thought it was just a Facebook thing. All right, I think we're going to cut through all that today. So who do we have on today?

Related Article: Facebook’s Rebranding Embraces the Metaverse, But Not Everyone Is Convinced

Rich: Today we have with us Dirk Lueth, he's co founder of Uplandme, Inc., which provides a metaverse where, in his own words, people will not only play but also socialize and eventually be able to earn money. Dirk Lueth is an entrepreneur and an early adopter of metaverse and blockchain technologies.

Dom: Sweet, and how's he going to help us today, Rich?

Rich: Today he is going to join us he's going to discuss the practical applications of marketing and customer experience in the metaverse, and how brands can adapt to these new experiences. I mean, Dom, Forrester reported that 77% of B2C marketing executives are eager for their brands to explore what's possible within the metaverse, and 76% plan to invest some of their marketing budget toward metaverse related activities in 2022. I mean, this is becoming mainstream.

Dom: Yeah, people want to definitely know what's going on and how we can get involved. Is it too early or not? So hopefully, we'll cut through all that today.

Thank you, Rich.

Dirk, how's it going today?

Dirk Lueth: Hello, hello from sunny California. Thank you for having me.

Dom: No, it's great to be here with you today. We caught up a little earlier trying to crack this whole metaverse thing, and we're happy to have you help us do that.

Give our listeners a little hey, who's Dirk kind of thing like what you're up to these days professionally? And what you're focusing on lately? And you know, I know you've given a lot of talks on the metaverse, so we'd love to hear what's hot.

What's Hot in the Metaverse?

Dirk: Yeah, where do I start? Maybe I'll start with something you know, when I was actually studying, I wrote a PhD about private and state controlled currencies. I thought, oh, wow, this is just academic work, never going to use it again. Right? Just you know, some paper which sits on your shelf and done.

But then actually blockchain came around, or better to say Bitcoin came around, in 2009-2010. And that's actually when I first heard about it, and I got to, oh, wow now I can use my academic work again, because this is something which is really drastically changing everything, how we work, how are we going to interact with each other. And of course, it was very, very early back in 2009, when Satoshi Nakamoto published his white paper about Bitcoin, and now technology has advanced a lot. And of course, the question is always, how do you use it? How do you use this new technology, especially blockchain?

And I think metaverse, except you know, of course, you have currencies, you know everyone's aware of Bitcoin where things can be traded, prices are going up and down, but the metaverse is something much more, in quotation marks "tangible," not that you can grab it with your hand or something, but something everyone can actually use and act in. And that's what got me really excited about that.

So I've been really involved in all those blockchain projects and things, but basically in 2018, I put myself together with my two co-founders Mani Honigstein and Idan Zuckerman, they were coming from the gaming space, and we were playing Monopoly. We were friends and we had this game night, and I was a fan about the blockchain as on, hey, what if we take this idea of Monopoly and you know, this inspiration, and maybe add the real world to it and blockchain and create something what we call the metaverse. So the we incorporated actually the company back in 2018.

It was called Upland.me for metaverse, but at that time, no one really was aware of it. Maybe some people have seen the movie Ready Player One, if you watch the movie Matrix, you know, that's where it is. But we said, okay, we really want to build out that parallel world. And so yeah, here we are now, we launched in 2020. And, you know, very proud to say in terms of land owners, Upland today is the largest maker of metaverse with currently roughly a little bit more than 200,000 land owners, people who buy virtual land and do things in this virtual world.

What Actually Is the Metaverse?

Dom: So looking at kind of really cracking what the metaverse is, you know, you said that a lot of people didn't know that a few years ago. So Forrester, in their reporting, they're finding that a lot of the media, they're calling any sort of extended reality experience the metaverse, right. If you have a pair of goggles, you're in the metaverse.

But Forrester reports that these are more single vendor platform activations and not the metaverse. They call these metaverse precursors. So like augmented virtual worlds, gaming environments, development tools, but by itself, it's like its own virtual world, kind of like a virtual island as they report. So there are a lot of misleading sort of representations of the metaverse itself out there?

Related Article: Meta's Metaverse: The Future of Digital Experience Marketing?

Dirk: Yeah, I tend to say, you know, it's very much like and first of all, people always say, you know, there's this metaverse and that metaverse, I think, first of all from linguistic standpoint, right? There's one internet, there's one universe and there's one metaverse, right. Of course, you always tend to say, hey, this is the metaverse for that, and this multiverse for that, but it's very important thing to think about metaverse is a concept, something like a mindset. What the metaverse is going to be and how it's going to look like I mean, there's so many definitions. I think there's nothing really hammered into stone at the moment.

So when you do a daily Zoom conference, right, when you work is that already the metaverse because you're only there virtually, maybe there's an argument for it. But I tend to say is, the metaverse is going to be much more than just doing a videoconference in the future. It's something where you actually assume an identity, maybe your real-world identity, maybe you're to assume some other identity, you know some fictitious or whatever you prefer to do whoever you want to be. And then you're somehow navigating yourself in an in a parallel world where you do things, that is also the main difference when you think about the all-traditional media and come to that in a second, but what what's going on there, but the idea is you do some some things and when you take no blockchain, we actually also own things.

And that's why we will have in the future a lot of new business models, new experiences created, which we cannot describe as of today, because when the internet came around in the 90s, we did not know at that point, how actually everything's going to look like, it depends on the creativity of the people depends on the creativity of entrepreneurs, especially, to create something where people actually like and which adds value to the daily actions, you know, if they want to be entertained, if they want to earn money, or if they just want to socialize with other people.

Rich: You know, Dirk, my thoughts are not looking so far ahead. I'm talking about looking like business ahead. So we're talking about one year, three years. I feel like it is going to be a splintered metaverse. And where we go in the future may be that it's all connected like the internet is as you said, but I think what most people currently know about the metaverse is this it's an immersive virtual world, you'll be able to interact, you'll be able to play, you'll be able to buy and sell products and services. But it seems like there's still so much in flux that it's going to metamorphosize and change even more.

First, I'm not sure I understand why everyone would want to do this in the future. I'm not saying they won't. I was hoping maybe you could start by explaining why you think everyone's going to do this? And if you could just talk a little bit about like, what a day in the life of a metaverse looks like. 

A Day in the Life of the Metaverse

Dirk: Why it's going to be important, we can use the same argument right, why is the internet always around with us today? And I think it's just the next evolution. We will always, people always talk, metaverse is very closely connected to Web 3.0. We seen that in the pandemic, right? We all became much more virtual already, just not allowed to leave our house or go back to the office.

So that is exactly what you will see. But there's a lot of other trends, which you can see especially when you look at our kids, you know, they're playing all day Minecraft, ROBLOX when they're very young, and then when they grow up, maybe then Fortnite or something. These are also some kind of expression in the metaverse. It's not just, you know, that they are playing and you know, just entertaining themselves, it's this whole place of socializing, where they hang out with friends, where they do homework, where they talk about school.

So this is something where we always tend to say, the metaverse is going to be in the future or daily companion, is always with us in a certain form. And where we enrich our daily life, of course, supported by technology, and by new types of experiences. And right now is where people actually start to expect to do things in a digital world in order to experience a brand in a different way, maybe to run the concrete example. Because we were asking what are people doing today in the metaverse, and we can speak a little bit of what we're doing at Upland, but what is important, because Upland is connected to a metaverse, which is connected to the real world or based on the real world.

Related Article: Metaverse, Web3 to Converge: 4 CX Changes Marketers Can Expect

And we always say there are three things that people expect when we, for instance, we have a partnership with the NFL Players Association. So we say in everything you do, and when you connect with a brand, NFL in the metaverse, we do three things: it's gamified, it's contextual, and it's geo-located.

When we say gamified, that means so you can now go, for instance, in Upland and purchase virtual merch, like a virtual jersey or like a virtual football, right? So you can do that in the store of the stadium. So you start collecting those. So this is somehow gamified. And the more you collect you, you get actually to a certain fan score. And now the context is now the game. You go on the day of the game, you go virtually into the stadium and higher your fan scores, the more you advance in the line to get very rare so-called NFT, a very unique digital asset, and do that, and this is what is geo-located in the virtual stadium.

So somehow there's something new coming, which you weren't able to do really before. That's what the metaverse provides, new types of experience with the brand NFL, the NFL Player Association at the moment, and that you can now spin to lots of other brands. Imagine your car brand, right? And people now want to maybe drive a virtual car in the meta in one of many metaverse platforms. And when experienced that car, maybe they want to see is it a fast car is a small car, they want to look into the car, how it looks in the inside. And that influences potentially their decision, what car they will buy in real life.

But it's much more interactive. It's not like in traditional TV, you just see an ad of the car. And somehow you dive into a world there's a small story around your car, maybe created when you watch it on NBC or CBS an ad, right, or when you engage a little bit with the car on social media.

No, now, what is now so different, is that people can try it out in quotation marks, maybe they do a virtual car race, right? And maybe they hear the certain sounds which are emulated. So they actually get a completely different experience, which gets much closer to the users or to the customers than what you had with traditional media.

And that's what makes the metaverse so special, and in the CX space right, you have to start thinking, okay, how do I get to engage with the audience, I connect them much closer with my product than before.

Are Brands Experimenting in Customer Experience in Metaverse?

Rich: You know, it seems like for the most part, we're in the experimental phase as far as brands and what they're doing. Can you share some of the ways you see brands experimenting?

Dirk: Yeah, so there's lots of things. I think what is unique, usually what we see is when experiments are successful when you provide some kind of utility for the metaverse, right, it's not just dropping something and hoping people buy it, and then you know, whatever they do. No, when you provide a utility that they can do something with it. I mentioned the car, so maybe if the car brand in there, but you have also other examples where maybe you have shoes, right? And you know, maybe your sneaker company, right? And then maybe you want to provide the possibilities to use those sneakers in the metaverse and the sneakers will provide certain enhanced capabilities, some superpowers maybe to run faster, and so on. So Nike is experimenting with that.

In other metaverses, you know, we had for instance, we have in Decentraland, you know, they actually took the whole Australian Open where people actually can walk through, virtually through, the stadium and were able to see the different tennis courts and we're able to do small missions in the app, right. So people were able to really experience this tournament before even the tournament itself had started, and they didn't need to be there.

So then maybe maybe just on the Sandbox, variety of the experiences they are creating around Snoop Dogg, that is very interesting, right when you're a Snoop Dogg fan is famous rapper, you can go to his house, you know and see and hang out with others and celebrate and do virtual dances and so on if you're into that.

So, so that's that's the stuff you can do actually today already in the metaverse, but eventually it will evolve. And you rightfully said we are still in the experimentation phase and have to see and learn what really works with customers or not. And we clearly see that the more you engage in, that is the most important thing, with all the metaverse and Web3 is all about the community, it's engaging with your audience, you're co-creating things together with them.

So when you're thinking about the old world, brands were always very restrictive in terms of what others can do with their brands. I think in the future brands will be much more open, they will give much more possibilities to their customers to use the brands, and for instance, maybe you allow your users to print T-Shirts, you know with your brand logos on it, of course you can give some guidelines, but you make your customers much more brand ambassadors because they will be able to use maybe virtual goods in the metaverse and re-sell them, but they become your advocates, you know they become your re-sellers. And that's how you actually distribute the news about your brand.

Marketing Challenges in the Metaverse and Measuring Success

Dom: Yeah, and thinking about this from a marketers perspective Dirk, right now marketers they have a game plan, and the game plan has a lot to do with collecting data, collecting as much data as possible, keeping within the privacy laws, of course, but collecting as much data as possible from their customers and prospects and churning them out into some kind of actionable game plan that involves marketing campaigns. It involves email blasts, it involves websites, it involves SEO, and just getting inbound marketing tactics versus outbound marketing tactics, marketing automation systems, like that's what marketing teams are thinking of marketing operations, campaign management.

What are they going to be thinking of in the metaverse? Like, what kind of things are they going to have for challenges? Are they going to have ways to collect metaverse-related data to kind of fuel their campaigns with metaverse? You know, that kind of thing. So what are some of those initial challenges you think marketers are going to be seeing?

Dirk: So to answer directly, the metaverse does not have, you know, a common system of let's say, KPIs or so right, when you think about TV, you know, you clearly have how you measure success there. You see the ratings on social media, when you see click-through rates and all that stuff. So I think there will be new types of measurements in the metaverse, and standards especially, which are not yet established, right.

But I think about, when I see those news measurements, there could be times of engagement, times that you use the product in the metaverse, right, there's could be a very simple version of it. And I think that's probably the first thing when marketers also will come much more into droves and into the metaverse when they say, okay, everything I do, I'm able to measure here.

So I think we are not there yet. But I think everyone who now comes in and experiments, you know, they will start to understand, okay, what that could be in the future. I think there's no way around to really start experimenting, not to wait, because there will be new brands, or existing brands, who will probably get some kind of an advantage to understand everything much quicker and then come up with new solutions, which might those who think, oh, I'm just waiting, you know, for the second or third wave to be over the last followers right to miss the boat here.

Related Article: Virtual Is Real or Real Is Virtual? The Metaverse Game Begins

What is also very important to remember is that in the metaverse, the co-creation aspect, what I mentioned before, is that you you cannot get that much data out of your users, let's say like this. So right now you have two tendencies. Of course, you have big companies, like the now called Meta, right, it's Facebook, we don't know how they gonna deal with data.

But especially in the new metaverse, the new companies, including for instance Upland, but all the others, were all quite reluctant to say, hey, you know that the users should share lots of personal data. In Web 2.0, so in the social media world, you needed all that data, because the only monetization was through advertising. And in the Web 3.0, I don't see a future where users will share a lot of data, right, about what age they have, where they live, how rich they are, right? I call that more the experience data you see, or the activity data. That's the type of data marketers will get in the future, right, from certain users, and then how they're going to probably market their products to certain user groups, or target groups, right.

To give you one example. So let's say with the cars, for instance, you want to see, okay, who were the users who drove the most cars tried out many different cars, right? Who built something around cars, their own mini business in the metaverse, right? You're going to probably address more of those users, and you get this data back. But it's not about who they are, but it's more what they do. And I think we will have standards around that where marketers will be able to target those users.

But the thinking has to change in marketers, right? It's away from data driven to activity driven things, which includes, of course, data, but not all that personal data. That's my very personal point of view.

Dom: It's amazing as you're talking, I'm thinking, look at how long it took us. And I when I say us, I mean government regulations, to figure out some data privacy laws on the internet. You know, GDPR, very recent 2018, CCPA 2020, you know it's just so recent, that we finally put these hard and fast rules in about collecting data.

I wonder how long it's going to take to figure out the metaverse set of rules that marketers and brands are going to have to follow. You know, I mean, I wonder when we're going to see that.

Will We See Data Privacy Laws in the Metaverse?

Dirk: Yeah, I think as long as that doesn't go too far into the privacy of the users. I think we can actually go a little bit faster this time, right? Because if we're not touching the privacy space of the users, then I think the governance will not really interfere right. Unless, of course goes to the wrong direction that people are being, you know, victims of scams and so on, I think that's when the government's will come in.

But if you're just a regular brand who are trying to market to your existing customers, I don't see that it's that complicated. I'm very hopeful, because personally, I'm annoyed, you know, when I go to a website and each time I have to accept cookies, click here, click here to accept before he can see something, and so on. That's also not really customer friendly at the end of the day. So I think that is something which will come.

But I want to maybe want to mention another point is, in the future, what Web 3.0 means, we're going to move away from being app-centric or platform-centric in the future, we're going to be customer-centric. That means when I'm a consumer, I might have a maybe call that an uber locker or uber wallet or something, right, something where I actually collect all my, let's say digital items, and when I move from one metaverse to the other, we call that in our lingo, the interoperability, I will be able to take parts of my identity, parts of my digital goods into from one place to the other and use it there.

And if we manage to find good solutions, I don't see why on a voluntary basis users might say, you know what, I'm going to disclose some of my personal data, but I do it on purpose, I decide to do it because I get maybe access to a valuable item in the metaverse, which I usually have to pay, or I can provide my data. I mean, that's something I clearly see as long as it's really easy for the users to do, because the Web 3.0 is all about exchange of value, and it's not just money, my dollars, I give someone what is, of course, also the data, but now I'm in control of that.

And we clearly see the first companies doing this. I don't know if you know that there's a browser called Brave, and it's a privacy browser, but people earn now money when they actually start to watch ads, and so on. Right? So that's a new thing. We're going to see more and more especially also in the metaverse where people actually, they start earning, you know, not just by handing out dollars, but also by handing out their personal data.

Rich: Yeah, you bring up some great points. But ultimately, I think that our audience would really like to know, is how you think this is going to change the way that brands design and implement their customer journeys, does this just going to be seen, like another channel, that organizations need to market into are just going to be like a whole other thing?

Designing the Customer Journey in the Metaverse

Dirk: It's going to be a whole other thing, Web 3/0 is about participation. So in the future, I clearly see that you involve your community, in certain product decisions. So it's, it's not just to market it's really this bilateral interaction between you and your customers.

So when you want to create something new, I mean, it can really start as wanting to design something new, maybe you involve your community, even maybe you have a small competition. And I mean, we see that every day in Upland, how creative our community is, people are thirsty to help to co-create.

So I think clearly, you will let your users co-create maybe something of your products, maybe it's just virtual, and then you bring it into the real world and create something real out of it. Right? Maybe you need to be in the business of producing handbags. Right? Maybe you have a competition where people create some handbags, and then the best one actually gets produced in the real world.

And that's something which we'll see, people can maybe vote right maybe let you use this vote when you say, maybe you're selling shoes, right? And you say, hey, should we produce the shoes in blue or black? Right? Let your customers vote over it, right? And then of course, you get very quickly also direct and very quick feedback to produce the right products and not to produce and something which sits just on the shelves and not getting sold.

The companies who are embracing that participatory approach. I think they will succeed.

Rich: So then where do you see the most, let's say for, I'm trying to think of what I would categorize as an average company, but I'm just trying to get to what you think the most common use case would be for a business?

Related Article: How Retail Businesses Should Prepare for the Metaverse

Dirk: So I think there's multiple phases you probably have to go for, right, when you think about the metaverse. The first one is, you know where to speak very concretely, maybe first one, establish a presence, you know, because all your users also go to probably try out metaverses, so you're going to purchase maybe a piece of land, and another piece of land, you're gonna put maybe your logo on top of it right and something like this very simple, that's just the presence.

And the second phase will be okay, maybe we start putting a shop there, where you start maybe selling something, you know, that is unique, maybe you sell as an NFT some very unique interviews you have done, you know, with people like me, so, right, but it was something unique, what people really like to have like to own, right.

And then the third phase comes in over the experience, when you start to integrate, you know, maybe a community aspect of it, right. So in your case, because you're creating podcasts, right? And maybe there's some part of your podcast, we say, hey, you know what we've talked about use cases of brands in the metaverse, right? Hey, why don't you guys create also a podcast, right, and we will actually have that in our virtual building, and then people do their own podcasts, maybe with other people, and you say, the top five, we're gonna listen to them, right, and the top five, we're going to integrate into our main program, right.

So you really embrace, you know, your audience. Because you have, obviously the big brand, and you have your audience, but they participate. Also, they feel honored, right to be part of that and, and you integrate them in your whole media product.

And then the fourth phase is when everything mixes with the real world. So let's say maybe you have a conference, right? And in real world, and you now mix it, we'll call that phygital, right? You do something in the physical world, and then you do some stuff in the digital world. So people are at the conference, right? They can start with something in a new gamified in a certain way, as well, right? So you have the conference, you have maybe a live panel discussion, right, and then everyone who was part of the panel discussion, or in the audience, you know, maybe they get a special, you know QR code like an NFT. And with that, they can actually use that NFT go back into your virtual building. And then they get maybe access to some very exclusive material, which they can only watch by their individual world.

Then you can say, okay, when after they've watched it, you know, when they completed maybe the mission to watch five videos, right, they can go out, again, out of the virtual world, and go back to the physical world, and then say, hey, you know, now because I did get the badge that I'm certified in this particular topic, then maybe then in the real world, maybe they get invited to a very special exclusive event with, let's say 20 or 30 people only, like a roundtable discussion, right, which gives them again, the feeling that they have participated in your brand, but they also, they get something special out of it.

Dom: Thinking back to something you said earlier, wanted to maybe challenge you, or just clarify a little bit, because earlier, I think you said, you know, Web 3.0 is getting to a place where things are going to be customer-centric versus app- and platform-centric, right?

I think right now, Web 2.0, there's customer-centricity all over the place. I mean, I think we got Uber we got easy things like DoorDash. And things come to us, we just press a few buttons. I think brands have adapted greatly.

But are you talking more like the ease of use of things in Web 2.0 versus Web 3.0, or like the control that customers will get over their own data, their own currency? Like that kind of thing?

Users, Not Platforms, Have Control in Metaverse

Dirk: Yeah, it's about the true ownership and the control of it, right? Yes, of course, it's up to you to post something on social media, to take an Uber and so on. But the problem is always when you post something on social media, and the social media does not like you, they can ban you, right, they can take you off. Same with Uber, right, for whatever reason, you know, they can do that.

In this new world is actually that you are much more in control of things, it's not the platform. And because people are in control, and they own things, they become much more creative in creating also new stuff. Because everything they do they know it's coming back to them, they have the possibility to monetize it, very much like in the real world, when you own a house, right, you take care of it, you beautify it and make sure you know everything's working. If you just rent it, you know, you don't care so much, right.

So that's the different thing. Ownership is a very important component to inspire creativity.

Rich: I've heard you mention true ownership and some of your other talks. So I had two questions. And they're kind of interrelated.

Earlier, when you were talking about the steps brands should be taking, you said, you should put your logo out there. If you could talk a little bit about what an organization would do to get their logo in the metaverse?

And then after that, we'll come back, I'd like you to define true ownership.

Dom: I know what it is Rich.

Rich: What's that?

Dom: You email [email protected], and he gets the logo and puts it up there for ya.

Rich: Zuck doesn't have time for you, Dom.

Dirk: Yeah, but basically, the idea is, you know, like in Upland, I cannot speak for us and of course for the other metaverses, but it's very simple, right? You can engage as always, you know, where brands can reach out to the operators of the metaverse and can then, as simple as uploading their logo, and then you know, special building is created maybe, you know, has the logo as an ornament or something.

So that's typically the way it works. But it's just the presence right, because it goes way beyond and what I explained earlier, the second phase, then the shop and experience, right so I think as a good start, anyone can go and get right away, you know, get started tomorrow, basically.

Rich: Okay. I think a lot of people were wondering like where do I even start with this?

Going back to your earlier comment, can you define true ownership and why you think this is so important inside the metaverse?

Dirk: Yeah, so true ownership, I mean, it's, and I don't want to get too technical, right, but true ownership is, of course related to blockchain. And blockchain is like a public ledger where everyone can always verify who owns it, right? They don't see you know my name to it, but they see my my wallet associated to it. But that is very important.

And true ownership means that, for example, right now, I'm the operator of Upland, or my company, and I cannot take away those things from the users, right? It's not that you know, if I'm in the old world, like, you know, when I'm an operator of a traditional game, or traditional metaverse, I can always change the database entry and take stuff away from people, or de-platform people. So that is always possible.

So true ownership, why is that important? Because in theory, right, and depends of course, you can always critique that, but you know, in theory, someone can go and say, you know what, I don't like you know, the way this metaverse is, you know, built, I built my own metaverse, but I use the same data, right, I use the same goods which are associated to the users, right, and then someone can build it, and people still can also enter that because they still own the same thing, right, because it's on the blockchain, which is somehow the common denominator.

And true ownership today, basically includes you know, because it's verified on the blockchain, it's basically you know, your own, you know, you have the unique right to own, let's say, a picture or a piece of music or thinking about any media file. In the future, it's going to probably go beyond that, we're gonna have smart so-called NFTs.

But it's very much like, there's only one Mona Lisa, right. It's in the Louvre in Paris. Yeah, but there's, I think the Mona Lisa gets photographed, I don't know, 1,000 times a day, or maybe even more 10,000 times a day, right, and there's so many others, but these are just, you know, replicas, pictures of it. But obviously, the Louvre is the only one who owns the original, and blockchain enables to show that, okay, there's only one person who owns the original, you can always prove that.

How to Get Started in the Metaverse

Dom: Yeah, kinda like to bring it all together, Dirk, you know, with the lessons to marketers, customer experience professionals, if they're looking to get started, you know, where are they going to have to look? Are you envisioning a world where marketing leaders are going to have to hire skill sets for metaverse experiences, you know, and what kind of skill sets will they be?

Marketing leaders think about building their team, we're doing a lot of coverage on a lack of skill sets. It's amazing, like LinkedIn data finds people coming into organizations, they don't have the skill sets, they have to train and retrain. So what's going to be on their plate in terms of building out metaverse, programs looking for talent, technology implications, you know what, what's going to be top of mind on those initial investments from that marketers are going to have to make?

Dirk: I think, first of all, there's no super huge success case, right, everyone can take a look at the ... experimentation phase. But while I recommend to take a look at, not maybe traditional brands trying out things, maybe look at the let's say the native brands, how they are doing things. So that's the Web 3.0 native companies who just are born in 3.0, or who have never been to 2.0, 1.0.

In terms of skills, the types of people who need it, I think it wouldn't hurt probably to maybe hire someone who's, who's a big gamer, right, who understands gaming, but you know, and knows how to interact with different variations of games out there. So I think that's the first thing, because he knows how to move and how to interact with other players. So that's the first thing.

The second, skills, right now the metaverse is all about lots of you know, nice visualization of that, we're gonna see that a lot, right, really nice looking 3D models of your product. So you probably have to start thinking, okay, my design team, do I have the capabilities to create really awesome looking 3D objects, because at the end of the day, the eye is very important for users to decide over things. So that's a second one.

And then the third person I would hire on the mini first team is someone who understands community, right, who has maybe managed a game community, maybe has a small art community himself, who knows how to interact maybe also outside of the game, or outside of a metaverse, like in platforms like Discord, who knows how to involve people how to moderate them, because it's not always that easy. How to create maybe a positive environment or a proactive environment.

So these are the three people I would say, the gamer, the designer and the community manager, to start out with. And of course, maybe you should also start thinking about you can use an existing, hopefully, person you have, is someone who understands how to read the data you getting out of a metaverse and all of the actions some people are doing there.

Dom: Rich, I hope we're still around to get all the exciting titles that are coming out of the metaverse, right? Chief Metaverse Officer; Metaverse Liaison, right?

Dirk: Oh, yeah, we'll see lots more we're not even aware of right, like 3D Metaverse Interaction Product Designer.

Dom: Exactly.

Rich: Yeah, I think UI and UX is definitely becoming more and more important as we get deeper and deeper into this.

So Dirk, we're at the part of the show where I'd like you to, if you wouldn't mind, wrap it up for us, like, tell us what you think are the major takeaways for modern marketers?

Dirk: So the major takeaways is to dive into it, to of course, to use some of the metaverse and not just one, try out multiple, because there's going to be multiple platforms of the metaverse is very much like if multiple TV stations today, have multiple social media outlets, it's not just going to be one who rules it all. So there were going to be pieces of the metaverse where people go to do X, and then others to do Y right, some of who maybe have more focus on entertainment, others have maybe more the focus of earning money, right, and you have to understand that enough to see where could you potentially find your target group.

So first of all, dive into it. Then get involved with everything what is maybe also crypto we haven't done that or blockchain right, just take $100, right and assume that you lose those, but go ahead and maybe purchase some, some cryptocurrencies if you haven't done that yet, right, just to understand how that works. And then once you purchase a cryptocurrency, go and dive into their respective community because cryptocurrency is a little bit more advanced in terms of communities than what metaverses are.

When you dive into the Discord channel, for instance, you see what gets people excited, and what are they creating, and so on. So that's also quite important.

And then maybe sit together with your most innovative team members, and come up with crazy ideas, and assume, and get a lot of startup thinking into it, right? Assume that your first ideas will fail. And also, maybe also, within the organization, hey, we have to try it out, maybe we spent them depends, of course, the size of your organization, we spend a couple $100,000 or maybe less, right, to try something out, and we have to assume that we not do not succeed, but it's really educational in order to be ready, what's coming there.

And the metaverse and that's something I have to say, I'm in the startup space for a very long time, this is the fifth company now, with Upland, which I'm currently building, but the speed that everything is happening right now, I've not seen that before. And the amount of money and talent, which is going into the space, is unprecedented to my mind.

So of course now right now you read a lot of funding rounds and funding news and so on. But people will build stuff. And I assume in two or three years, the landscape is going to look very different. And people will flock in droves to new experiences. And of course spend less, in what I call now traditional Web 1.0, 2.0 or just traditional media.

Rich: Yeah, I can tell you from talking closely with our Reworked team, that many people have left their current positions to just to go work in this field, you see a lot of talent heading that way. So it's definitely going to be an interesting future.

Dirk before we go, I would like to give our listeners a chance to learn where they can follow you and learn more.

Dirk: Yeah, absolutely. Feel free to follow me of course on Twitter. Our company Uplandme is on Twitter. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. And of course we have a website Upland.me and you know where we talk about things.

One special thing, I want to announce, I wrote a book together with Kathy Hackl, who is the godmother of the metaverse, and Tommaso Di Bartolo is a scholar at UC Berkeley here in California. So we call it Navigating the Metaverse: A Guide to Limitless Possibilities in a Web 3.0 World and that book came out on May 3.

Rich: Yes, I'm sorry, I didn't mention that. I'll make sure that it makes it into the landing page of the podcast.

Dirk: That would be nice. Thank you.

Rich: All right, Dirk. Well, thank you. And thank you to all our listeners out there. And we will see you next time on CX Decoded.

Dom: See ya.

Dirk: Thank you for having me.