Speaking at THE SPOT, where I was invited to talk about Web3, one thing was clear: Despite all of the leaders in tech and sport sitting in the room, there was still overriding confusion about what Web3 is and what it means for sports. Web3 may seem like a mystery right now, but with increasing hype, it can’t be ignored.
Before you rush to build a Web3 experience, it’s going to pay to understand why it’s important and what it really means for the user.
So let’s start with a definition. If you Google it, you’ll see it’s been defined as anything from marketing speak and hype, to detailed definitions of tech. But the Web3 Foundation, which ‘nurtures and stewards’ Web3 technologies and applications defines Web3 as “a decentralized and fair internet where users control their own data, identity and destiny”.
Users have increasingly become more aware that the data that they are producing through wearables and apps is valuable, and that it’s not them who are benefiting, but the corporates. Web3 provides an opportunity to cast aside traditional models of commerce and creativity where the power resides in corporate hands. In a decentralized space, it’s the people who hold the power.
A revolution is happening, and it’s called Web3
Whether we like it or not, Web3 is going to play a bigger and bigger role in sport and fitness, because it is the future. As technologies adapt and grow, a younger audience finds a new place to play. But if you’re not there, this audience can’t find you and someone else will be.
“But sports aren’t played online!” I hear you say. Tell that to the millions of people who have ever played a Wii console, or joined an online spin class. As technology advances, the sporting world will advance too. A time will come when tennis superstars won’t have to travel to Wimbledon or the Arthur Ashe Stadium to best their opponents, they’ll do it from virtual arenas.
Ok, so we’re looking far into the metaverse here, but way before that becomes a possibility, we can start to consider how Web3 can begin to benefit the sports sector. One of the biggest problems with the current web is how to monetise. Of course there are advertisements and sponsorships, but the scope is limited. In a
Universal tokenised economy you can collect and spend tokens easily online. Let’s look at the NFT economics: Currently the sport collectibles market is valued at $4.4bn, while coins and stamps are valued at $25bn and collectibles overall at $440bn. That’s a whole lot of opportunity.
But to tap into that opportunity it’s not going to be enough to just exist in Web3. You’ll have to create exceptional, personalized experiences. People are moving to Web3 because it’s new and because it’s exciting. But if you want to cross into majority adoption, user experience and the user journey becomes the most important thing.
Personalization is already an expectation in user experience, but moving forward into Web3, hyperpersonalization will become essential. If I look at our business, the fastest growing two parts are our user experience team and our data and AI team, and that’s directly linked to the need to use data and AI to really think about how can we create differentiating experiences. And when we build products, it’s not the same product that I use and use again, it adapts to my needs and it’s a different experience each time. That expectation of personalized experiences is going to become completely normalized in the next one to three years.
The sporting and fitness sectors have an opportunity to adapt to Web3, and in the not-too-distant future, it will become a need. It’s time to get ahead of the game.