Snow Crash, a science fiction novel by Neal Stevenson, predicted the advent of a techno-marketing dystopia many years before.
Snow Crash, a dystopian science-fiction novel by Neal Stevenson that has become a legend among Silicon Valley tech bros, foresaw the rise of a future Metaverse in 1992.
Despite Stephenson’s claim that he was “simply making stuff up,” tech entrepreneurs and futurists such as Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have long admired Snow Crash’s eerily accurate forecasts and worldbuilding.
As Web3 designers and marketers prepare to begin advertising in today’s Metaverse(s), Stephenson’s vivid fictional depictions of a Metaverse oversaturated with the neon glow of commercial advertising ring truer than ever.
Realm, a mixed-reality NFT platform, announced a cooperation with Alkimi, a decentralised advertising exchange, on February 23. Realm claimed that it plans to use Alkimi’s platform to motivate users to earn money from adverts by transparently sharing revenue from existing ad types.
In an announcement, Realm co-founder Matthew Larby emphasised that openness was a primary objective in avoiding a techno-marketing dystopia like Snow Crash.
“Advertising is a critical component of most existing social apps, but the transaction has been a nightmare for both the individual who provides the data and the advertiser who tries to validate their investment.”
“Advertising has always followed eyeballs,” Ben Putley, CEO of Alkimi Exchange, noted, “and as we see the numbers of people spending time in Metaverses, it will quickly become a channel advertisers would look to incorporate in their strategy.”
While Alkimi and Realm are focused on providing a transparent and long-term advertising environment, other significant players are jumping headfirst into the Metaverse.
In a recent analysis, JPMorgan declared the Metaverse to be a “$1-trillion opportunity,” adding that “[marketing] is possibly one of the major parts of the meta-economy.”
Bidstack, a UK-based in-game advertiser, has established a relationship with Azerion, an international media platform. Companies pay to have their products advertised on billboards in games like Call of Duty, and Bidstack specialises in creating ‘in-game’ adverts.
In-game advertising isn’t a new concept; in 2008, Barack Obama bought in-game ads from EA games to help his presidential campaign reach a wider audience. EA was able to position the commercials in 10 different swing states thanks to geotagging capabilities, adorning the billboards of Madden, NBA, and even Need for Speed with Obama’s promotional material.
The Metaverse, on the other hand, isn’t being developed as a game; rather, it’s being designed as an alternate reality in which people will definitely spend growing amounts of time, which means that advertising will be the natural next step for most brands.
The Metaverse might very well deteriorate into something like to Snow Crash, where underpaid delivery carriers travel through endless virtual tunnels of advertising, unless individuals and companies take care in designing the kind of world that people want to spend time in.
“His automobile is basically a gloomy space that reflects the tunnel of franchise signs – the loglo,” says the narrator. ― Page 13 of Snow Crash.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.