Avatars have existed for a long time but recently gained a second wave of popularity due to the metaverse trend.
Users love avatars: It’s so exciting to have a digital copy of yourself. On top of that, you can be whatever you want in the digital world.
So, what are avatars? Why are they so special to us? And what are their future utility?
Let’s start with the definition. Avatar is a graphic representation of a user, his online alter ego.
The word “avatar” takes its roots from Hinduism and means a being who embodies a god. Its initial goal was to reflect specific character traits of a person and help create a fairly accurate impression of his inner spiritual world and status (the nickname also serves this purpose).
Also, avatars had a decorative purpose. In addition, avatars simplify the perception of the topic discussion: They make it easy to associate posts with their authors.
The gaming industry was the first to implement the concept of avatars. It was used in 1985 in the computer game Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar for the first time. Ultima has been releasing its series of adventure games since 1981, and becoming the Avatar was the goal of the fourth part.
The term was later adapted in the role-playing game Shadowrun (1985) and the online role-playing game Habitat in 1987 (this game is considered a forerunner of the metaverse).
Today, most games offer users to create their avatars and select their look, equipment, and other features.
The rapid development of the Internet led to the active use of avatars (a commonly used word for profile picture) in blogs, forums, and instant messenger services.
In the late 2010s, even before the metaverse trend went viral, several companies established a special feature for creating avatars, for instance, Apple and their memoji, Snapchat’s Bitmoji, and Zepeto.
Now, 3D avatars are becoming more and more widespread. The main advantage of such avatars before 2D pictures is dynamics. That means avatars can move and interact with other users.
Avatars have come a long way from video games to an integral element of the metaverse. Let’s take a look at how avatars are used today and what their future prospects are.
Many social media platforms use avatars - Facebook (Meta), Instagram, Tiktok, IMessages, Snapchat, and Zepeto - just to name a few!
This can be easily explained by the fact that most social media developers understand the upcoming trend of virtualization and moving in the direction of metaverse development. Indeed, In Web 3.0, social media will be transformed, so avatars will be a vital part of them.
Have you ever spent money to buy “skins” for your character in the game? Users are fond of making their avatars unique and are willing to modify them by purchasing different appearance items. And if something can be monetized, brands immediately jump at it.
Some brands, like Nike, MacDonald’s, or Gucci, have already contributed to this area and even created their own metaverse space. And avatars are expected to be used there.
Consequently, brands have started designing different skins and fashion items for avatars to sell online. Fashion and luxury brands will have a particular advantage in this field: Customizing the character not only with ordinary skins but also luxury items with a certain value, isn’t it cool?
Games will evolve and become more immersive. The need for avatars representing gamers in the metaverse is becoming more crucial.
The quality and resolution of in-game avatars will increase, and with innovative motion-capture technology, player facial expressions, emotions, and movements can be transferred to the game.
In the future, AI-driven avatars that don't require any human management will be a part of our daily lives. Such smart avatars can be helpful in different fields: from bot-consultant in retail to personal assistants and virtual influencers.
Of course, AI-driven avatars can be anything, but to accelerate user adoption, these avatars will look like people. Such skeuomorphism is used to give something new a familiar look to speed up acceptance and adoption. In other words, to feel more comfortable chatting with AI-avatar, we would still need a person to see.
Beyond that, these avatars can be indistinguishable from real humans. A neural network, of Samsung NEON, for one, can create an image of a person and animate it based on a huge database of uploaded photos.
And this is no longer a futuristic concept! Artificial humans like Lu do Magalu or Lil'Mikela are taking over the digital world. They have millions of followers; meanwhile, they represent fashion brands and collaborate with different companies. On YouTube, they rack up 1.5 billion a month and earn $100,000 a week from donations.
Avatars in the music industry are not new. You obviously know Gorillaz, whose performances created a real sensation at the beginning of the 21st century. At that time, no one could imagine that holograms could sing.
Another example is K/DA, a virtual K-pop girl group of four League of Legends characters. K/DA was developed by Riot Games, the company behind League of Legends. The group first performed at the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 League of Legends World Championship Finals with their debut song, "Pop/Stars." "Pop/Stars" topped the World Digital Songs Billboard charts, making K/DA the fourth female K-pop group to top the chart.
And last year, in September 2021, US TV channel Fox launched a new TV show where digital avatars perform on stage instead of humans and fight to win the competition!
Furthermore, real artists can have their avatars to give concerts in the metaverse. The company Wave offers such services. Among their clients are Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Alison Wonderland, and others.
Cinematography influenced the nature of avatars not less than video games. The movie Avatar, as the name suggests, was one of them. The technology of motion capture was used in that movie. Simply put, the blue creatures in the film are high-realistic 3D models, not SFX-modified actors. This led us to ask the question: Do we really need people to act in the film now?
These kinds of hyper-detailed avatars can be seen in the movies such as Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One, or Rachel in Blade Runner 2049.
Today, however, motion capture technology competes with deep fakes when recreating an actor who is no longer alive.
Now we are seeing how the technology, that once was designed for games and social network users, is being transformed into a way of representing a living person for various needs. And this is just the beginning. With the development of the metaverse, everyone will have their own avatar, and perhaps even several.
Adello Group, Swiss pioneer in mobile advertising technologies, presents new AI-driven rich-media ad creative solutions.
Some say conventional digital advertisement has reached its peak. Increasing data privacy regulations force adtech providers to find new ways to identify relevant audiences without 3rd party cookies. Indeed, it is getting harder and harder to draw user attention with standard display ads. Such challenges inspired Adello to enhance its AdCTRL™ cookieless targeting to attract the right audience and develop AI-driven rich media interactive creatives to attract and retain user attention.
Adello’s latest innovative development is the first AI-powered mobile ad creative – #SmileForMe. With the user’s explicit consent, it activates the camera and accurately detects emotions, age, and gender. The application opportunities for this creative are endless, from personalized offers based on gender, age, and emotions to on-spot beauty recommendations and health risk assessments. This advertisement suits healthcare, skincare, cosmetic brands, beauty and fashion, entertainment, and more.
Would you like to know which celebrity has a similar smile to you? This smile recognition creative analyzes smiles, comparing them with celebrities of the same gender and revealing estimated age.
Another outstanding release at Adello is the #ReadyPlayMe. In fact, audio in marketing has been a big trend in recent years. Still, many companies underestimate this feature and its potential value. To attract people to specific products, for instance, music streaming services, concerts, festivals, or album promotions, it requires to include audio in its campaign.
Sneak a preview of the music festival into the ad creative like the Thunerseespiele open-air musical featuring its play.
Anna Pak, Head of Marketing at Adello:
“At Adello, we believe that exceptional advertisement is based on human emotions, interaction, and behavior. With our patented AdCTRL™ technology, we accurately predict and identify the relevant audience without relying on 3rd party cookies and serve them with interactive creatives that evoke emotions. How do you want the user to feel when seeing your ads? We can make them feel proud when they smile, inspired or nostalgic when listening to your tracks, or curious and excited when playing a quiz game. Our proprietary technology analyzes user interaction with creatives to provide advertisers additional data on audience behavior. Stop showing your audience static pictures. Use AI and creativity to show that you care about them.”
Adello is constantly developing new creative ideas to serve advertisers in the DACH region, the US, the UK, and Southeast Asia. Follow us for more insights and marketing updates.
According to Utpal Chakraborty of SwissCognitive, the Metaverse will evolve as the biggest virtual Marketplace in the next five to ten years. As we already know, the Metaverse is going to erase the physical limitations that we, humans, are confronted with. For example, when we desire to be in many places at once, it is simply impossible due to our physical limitations. But with the digital twin in the Metaverse, this is very much possible. The same goes for the business world: you can expect a fully democratic, decentralized global business platform, regardless of the size and nature of your business.
“With the Metaverse, we are seeing a pattern similar to the adoption of mobile in the early 2000’s,” says Mark Forster, founder of Adello and Lab51 Inc and Chairman of the Metaverse taskforce at IAB Switzerland. “Our latest survey among the Swiss digital advertising industry revealed that while 71% of the respondents believe the Metaverse offers opportunities for their company, only 25% are either working on projects or have launched first projects. As with Amara’s law, we tend to overestimate technology in the short run and underestimate it in the long run. The hype is here, while the actual Metaverse is not (yet). The Metaverse is rooted in various technologies, which are in various development stages and adoption statuses. Time will tell when these fascinating technologies mature and culminate in something we will consider the current Metaverse.”
Although Switzerland is a small country, it’s not lacking in innovation. An Article by GlobeNewswire mentions the following: “Being practically synonymous with the tech movement, Switzerland is often referred to as the next Silicon Valley for crypto and blockchain.”
Many exciting companies are operating in the Metaverse Digital Landscape field in Switzerland, and here are some of them:
Metaphysiks was founded in 2019 and focused on making the digital come alive by merging the human body with the digital world to create experiences and emotions. It is an immersive technology company based in Lausanne and has, according to the Greater Geneva Bern area (GGBA), recently received USD 2 million from TFN Investments for its neuro-haptic skin. This skin allows its users to bring their sensations, emotions, and cognition into the Metaverse. Their core technology that makes this possible is called MetaTouch.
KLON was founded by entrepreneur Philipp Semmler in 2022. KLON helps its users to create digital identity in the Metaverse in 5 steps. KLON claims to be interoperable, decentralized, and, most importantly, secure software. “Our goal is to bring 2,000,000 new people into the Metaverse by two years from now” - Philipp Semmler.
SwissNFTs is a platform for Swiss artists and art enthusiasts to trade digital art in a secure, reliable, and easy way. They are revolutionizing the Swiss digital art scene by creating the go-to NFT ecosystem for artists and collectors.
With over two decades of experience designing and creating software for mobile devices, Bitforge, founded in 2004, offers a mobile Augmented Reality solution - Yago. For example, the melectronics and Coop Bau + Hobby are among the company’s projects.
Adello is the pioneer in the Swiss mobile space for its machine learning algorithms for mobile advertising (Swiss Martech), leveraging petabytes of sensor-generated data. At the beginning of 2022, Adello announced the focus on Metaverse as 2nd pillar. These services include cross-platform services and implementations, Metaverse real estate developments, advanced avatar creations, NFT and cryptocurrency projects, and consulting services which are rendered under the parent company brand LAB51.
Aragon, founded in 2017, is a software development company that can build Decentralized Autonomous Organizations - short DAO - on open-source infrastructure. Aragon believes that blockchain and the internet are changing and the incentive structure for businesses to exist. That’s why they are developing tools for the next generation of businesses that will take advantage of these changes.
Based in Zug Crypto Valley, Värdex Suisse (2017) is the fastest-growing retail crypto financial services company in Switzerland. By providing seamless, secure, and easy-to-use DeFi products and services, they aim to be a key player in the decentralized financial ecosystem of tomorrow. Värdex is regulated by the Financial Services Standards Association (VQF) and a member of the Swiss Blockchain Federation.
If you want to learn more about this field, check out some upcoming events in the industry:
We, September 14, 2022
17:30 – 19:00
Metaverse & Cloud - New ideas and updates for digital commerce
Thu, September 15, 2022
17:30 – 22:00
Unchain Your Mind Debatte: Das Metaverse ist das versprochene Paradies!
Mo, September 19, 2022
18:30 – 21:00
HORIZONT Swiss digitaltalk: Metaverse - Wie das web3 laufen lernt
Th, September 29, 2022
10:30 – 12:00
Half-Life: Alyx is a first-person shooter game for virtual reality devices developed and published by the American company Valve. It is the first awaited game in the Half-Life series after a break of more than 12 years since Half-Life 2: Episode Two was released in 2007.
The game tells the story of Alyx Vance, who appears as the protagonist for the first time in the series, her father Eli Vance, and their fight against the occupation of Earth by the alien civilization, the Alliance. Half-Life: Alyx had 43,000 gamers playing simultaneously on release day. According to Niko Partners analysts, it was a successful launch by virtual reality standards.
The game has a fantastic atmosphere, beautiful graphics, and VR-grounded gameplay. Source 2 (a video game engine developed by Valve) physics allows the player to manipulate in-game objects in virtual reality. The game is suitable for a variety of game environments, modes of movement, and input devices. Some actions are difficult to perform, for instance, aiming, but it makes the game feel much more realistic and emotional.
The world's environment is built in such a way that it is interesting to explore, and the VR controls make encounters with enemies much more epic. All this is enhanced with great music in the style of the Half-Life series.
It is certainly creepy to play Half-Life: Alyx in VR glasses, but it is worth it. Of course, the emotions are fundamentally different in VR than playing on the PC, which is very cool.
The recent announcement of Apple joining the advertisement race and building its own demand-side platform (DSP) was quite surprising to many. Indeed, Apple is publicly known for being rather skeptical and critical of online advertisement, especially when it comes to user privacy matters. So why the change of heart?
Since the beginning of the year, the job ads and number of hires in the advertising platforms division skyrocketed.
In the May report, the company stated that the Apple Services group now has an executive director, Todd Teresi, who handles advertising-related initiatives.
Most notably, Digiday highlighted job listings that say Apple is building “the most advanced and sophisticated privacy platform possible.” This sounds like their own DSP.
To explain what DSP is, we need to step back and return to the concept of the programmatic advertisement.
The programmatic advertisement offers an automated process of buying and selling online advertising. This makes transactions more efficient by optimizing the process and consolidating digital advertising efforts in one technology platform. Unlike traditional advertising, which includes requests for proposals, quotes, tenders, and negotiations, programmatic buying uses algorithmic software to buy and sell online display space.
The programmatic ecosystem comprises the different technology platforms, available advertising deal types, and methods of buying programmatic media and spans across various ad formats.
All components communicate and interact with each other and create
an ecosystem that allows making the process of automated media transactions more facile.
As a rule, each programmatic platform is owned and operated by either a publisher, an advertiser, or an intermediary.
DSPs allow advertisers to set up an automation that scales campaigns based on performance metrics using machine learning. As long as the platform is well designed, advertisers are happy and spend more.
DSPs also perform other functions, such as helping advertisers to accurately match the demographics of their intended audience, testing multiple ad campaign options with dynamic A/B testing, and ultimately optimizing and increasing spending on the most effective campaigns.
This is not the first time for Apple to enter the advertising game. In 2010 the company acquired mobile advertising company “Quattro Wireless”. You may also remember iAd - Apple’s failed attempt at programmatic advertising. iAd was supposed to offer inventory available programmatically through open exchanges. Apple even announced in 2014 entering a partnership with Rubicon, MediaMath, Accordant Media, The Trade Desk, Adelphic, AdRoll, and others. Back then, it seemed like a promising and prospective beginning of the next ad giant! Suddenly, Apple rolled up the iAd project in 2016 due to data limitations and a lack of demand.
iAd case and the latest news about Apple’s DSP make asking the question: Will this time Apple’s attempt to get into the programmatic market be successful after such a dramatic fail? Looking ahead, yes, and there are many reasons why it will. Estimates are that Apple should make about $4B in advertising this year.
Apple has a huge advantage over the competition of being the owner of the popular iOS operating system. All those years, Apple has been building a complex system of connected products and services. These products and services are interconnected, which creates smooth consumer experiences. That is why Apple’s future DSP looks like a well-thought rational next step in this evolution. The company was building and expanding its advertising business behind the scenes, and now they finally revealed it.
Yet, Apple is giving very generous promises in their job posts regarding their future DSP platform:
“Our platform runs and delivers advertising auctions to match supply (customers) with demand (advertisers), focusing on technical components including Campaign Management, Bidding, Incrementality, Dynamic Creative Optimization, Matching, Auctions, and Experimentation, while empowering Customer Privacy throughout,”
Another interesting aspect of all of this is user data. Apple promises confidentiality in its actions and many times has already reported that privacy is a priority.
When Intelligent Tracking Prevention was introduced, it effectively disabled the usage of third-party cookies in the Safari web browser. Later, it ceased the mobile advertising identifier (MAIDs, or IDFA). Once App Tracking Transparency appeared, which allowed the user to control any ad experience by opting in or out of any track. The introduction of App Tracking Transparency was a clear win for consumers, but ad networks like Facebook and Snap have struggled to keep their ad platforms efficient. As a result, it is estimated to cost the industry tens of billions of dollars.
On top of that, Apple’s definition of “tracking” as a transfer of data to third parties means that its own personalized ads are not subject to the App Tracking Transparency, as this is
considered a transfer of data by the first party. So, users still will receive ads, but advertisers would have to pay “iPrice” for that.
That is how Apple first cut off Google and Facebook, which make up about 65% of all global advertising, by limiting their tracking and attribution systems while using privacy protection as an excuse.
It’s interesting to see whether Apple will get slammed by its users for monetizing their personal data for a premium price. Or whether US Federal Trade Commission will launch an antitrust investigation for monopolized advertising services.
Although, seeing how devoted Apple users are to the brand, there’s a good chance that Apple will get away with it.
Privacy rules are a strong tool for them to shut down competition while monetizing Apple user data all on their own.
Apple has introduced new advertising formats to selected partners and customers that can be booked in the App Store. What does this mean for mobile advertising?
One of them is the "Today" ad (Fig. 1), which promotes the app of the day at the launch of the App Store. This placement is not completely open - Apple controls every ad - on the one hand, certain categories like lifestyle are not allowed, on the other hand, every ad has to be authorized. This is similar to the process an app goes through before it is approved for download by Apple. For advertising, Apple simply adds another layer via the advertising team.
Apple is known for strictly managing its ecosystem (walled garden). One of Apple's success factors is the fact that they go to considerable lengths to ensure that content meets a certain level of quality.
It is also interesting that Apple has communicated the topic "Privacy First" on various channels in the last few years. Their Safari browser has blocked 3rd party cookies since 2013.
Well known is the example of Apple advertising (side blow to Google) in Las Vegas (Fig. 2)
What is forgotten here is that Apple initially positioned itself in the mobile advertising sector at an early stage. In 2010, Quattro Wireless was purchased by Apple as a competitor to Google's AdMob. In the same year, Quattro Wireless was discontinued in order to concentrate on Apple's "iAd". This advertising unit of Apple was also discontinued just a few years later, in 2016.
Now the change of heart. Mobile advertising is becoming more important at Apple. In addition to the age, gender, and location of users, Apple also allows retargeting.
Experts estimate that Apple will generate additional revenues of several billion USD in the next few years.
It is not a revolution what Apple offers. The main hurdle of Apple Advertising so far has been pricing.
There is enough attractive inventory in mobile advertising with the possibility of more diverse creativity (not bound by the strict corset of Apple), especially among local publishers.
However, Apple's new offer for mobile app advertising on iOS is attractive. Advertisers also complain that it has become increasingly difficult/expensive to generate app downloads via platforms like Facebook. So, it will be exciting to see when Apple will launch this new way of app promotion in Switzerland and at what price. The exact date has not been set yet, but the launch is supposed to happen this year.
The Metaverse is coming, the team is growing: Adello is sure that the first phase of the Metaverse will be in the area of personalization.
Adello team is getting further strengthening with Dolma Memmishofer, who has already gained experience in the media sector at Mediaeffects and Promotion Tools, and Victor Huber, who used to work in VR.
Memmishofer will be involved in business development and marketing, while Huber will take up the topic of virtual clothing/personalization of avatars on the different platforms. Due to his VR experience and interest in Metaverse projects, he has already been able to successfully sell virtual clothing as NFT.
Adello analyses human behavior in real time and combines this with fully automated, self-learning technology for maximum mobile marketing ROI. Global market research agency Technavio ranks the technology, which is protected by various patents and has won nearly 20 awards, among the top 16 in Big Data worldwide.
Since 2022, the company has refocused on the emerging Metaverse technologies Blockchain, Gaming, Crypto/NFT. Its satisfied customers include hundreds of the world's leading brands and agencies such as BMW, Clear Channel, GroupM, McDonald's, SBB and UBS. Adello operates offices in Europe, Asia and North America. The Metaverse is a key focus of the company. Adello is a Swisscom Ventures portfolio company.
The IAB Switzerland intends to make the metaverse tangible and establishes a new "Metaverse" team. The Head of the group will be Mark E. Forster.
Due to the rapid development of the Metaverse, and after discussing this topic with IAB’s sister association in Europe, the IAB Switzerland Association has decided to consolidate the developments around the Metaverse that are relevant for the various stakeholders in a new working group.
The Head of the group will be Mark E. Forster, founder of Adello. His task, with a dedicated working group and in close cooperation with the German sister association the BVDW (Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft), is to classify the various, complex topics and to communicate them in a way that is understandable to the relevant market participants. Mark's involvement in the U.S., Asia, and Europe provides an optimal starting point for picking up on relevant developments at an early stage and establishing contacts with solution providers and agencies. This enables the IAB to provide competent information on the topic and also to organize courses and events. The working group is being launched in cooperation with GroupM, which is represented by Irina Lim Svensson, Strategy Lead at Wavemaker and Edwina Gscheidle, Head of Operations, and Alexander Schmitt, Managing Partner at OMD.
IAB Switzerland Managing Director Urs Flückiger commented, "For the IAB and its members, the Metaverse is a core topic for the coming years. At the same time, it is complex. Accordingly, we wanted to gain a proven expert for this. Since Mark has always been involved with new trends in the technology sector and his company Adello picked up on the topic at a very early stage, it was important for us to win him over for this purpose. As he rightly says, mobile is not the end of the road - he will complement the previous Mobile department, which he also heads, with the Metaverse and transform it in perspective."
Recently, more and more Web 3.0 enthusiasts called us out to join their Discord chat. Discord is another instant messaging social platform that appeared in 2015 specifically for the gaming community but suddenly obtained its popularity now in 2022 within the new internet generation development. What’s so special about this messenger, and why did it gain its significance for Web 3.0?
Before we dive into the history of Discord’s appearance, let’s glance at its characteristics.
The messenger has a mobile, desktop, and browser version. The push-to-talk mode works only if the browser tab with the application is active.
There is an option of creating public and private chats to exchange text messages. Apart from that, Discord users can arrange voice and video conferences by configuring the communication channel and working on the principle of push-to-talk. In 2017 Discord added screen sharing and integrations with Twitch, Spotify, and Xbox Live as some of the features.
In Discord, the users can also attach files and media limited to 8 MB and links with a preview for some web pages. To send the file of a bigger size, a subscription to Discord Nitro must be purchased. That’s also Discord’s largest source of revenue stream.
The messenger has flexible interface settings. The users can install different themes and add-ons to expand the functionality. It is also possible to format not only the text in messages or servers but to change the nickname fonts using special services based on Unicode symbols.
Based on the listed features, it may seem that this messenger does not have any features that would distinguish Discord from other software of this kind. However, users like to engage with this platform for different reasons. To understand why Discord gained popularity so fast, let’s take a look at the history of the messenger.
Discord is listed as “Chat for Gamers” in most app stores. Indeed, initially, Discord was designed by gamers, for gamers, and has everything players need down to the smallest detail. For example, it consumes a minimum of resources and does not even automatically launch gifs (mini-rollers), so that the game does not slow down. Even Discord’s advertising slogan was utterly straightforward: “It’s time to abandon Skype and TeamSpeak” (referring to the other platforms that gamers used in the past). This led to the fact that the service has been popularized by e-sports players, including Twitch.tv users and gaming communities.
Unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic helped Discord to become even more popular, and this time not only among gamers. Even some schools, businesses, and trading communities chose Discord as a service for online communication. Thus, Discord gained a larger audience with diverse interests that crowded the platform. In 2017, it had 45 million users; in 2018 - 130 million; in 2019 - 250 million; in 2020 - 300 million; and in 2021 - 350 million. Not only userbase has increased, but also daily time spent on the platform.
Jason Citron, the creator of Discord, was surprised to find out that a third of platform users have nothing to do with games. Now Discord is refocusing from gamers to a mass audience to compete with Microsoft Teams and Slack. That is why the messenger has been redesigned.
So why did users choose this new and previously unknown platform? We already have a bunch of different established communication platforms that offer pretty much the same features as Discord. So what’s the secret?
“Imagine a place...where you can belong to a school club, a gaming group, or a worldwide art community. Where just you and a handful of friends can spend time together. A place that makes it easy to talk every day and hang out more often.” - you see this quote firstwhen you visit the official Discord website. Citron himself saw the future of the service as something like a bar from Cheers (TV show): “A place where everybody knows your name. A place where you can be with your friends, talk, and share as much as you want.”
Discord creates this cozy virtual place where the users can have a feeling of belonging. In other words, Discord is about community. It allows users to create an invite-only home for their friends or group, a place where they can talk, hang out with friends, and just have fun. it’s like walking into a room with friends, plopping down on the couch, and casually asking: “What’s up?”
And now, we approach the main question: Why is Discord so important for Web 3.0? The answer derives from the idea described above - the platform managed to gather people in the communities.
In our previous article, we wrote about the strong influential role community plays when it comes to selling NFTs. In fact, the community is a decisive factor for NFTs, since its size determines the number of requests from users and buyers in the market of operations. The larger the community, the more people are willing to buy NFTs. Discord, in its turn, is a great tool for creating communities: A group of people establishes a community with common interests to spend time together beyond any location boundaries. Once the community members develop a really strong bond, they can be converted into potential NFT buyers.
But it’s not only about NFT. Discord is often used as the main platform by most DeFi and NFTs projects and plays a vital role in their ecosystem. Sandbox, Star Atlas, Somnium Space, and many others have an official server to communicate with their community.
Also, in Discord, users can interact directly with important figures, such as CEOs, game developers, and artists, about innovations, fashion, and technologies, like NFT, blockchain, crypto, metaverse, and other Web 3.0 topics. Users get verified and reliable news, opinions, and insights from the different Web 3.0 fields.
Just like other platforms, Discord collects certain private information from users that allows them to create a personal account, provide platform services, enforce obligations to users, and comply with legal requirements.
Discord retains information for as long as the user has an active Discord account. Some information can be removed directly from the services. Discord may also retain information for a specified period of time for certain purposes, typically in case of an open dispute between the company and a user.
Users can restrict the collection of certain data. Discord claims that all users are in control of how their information is used and can directly edit or delete information.
Users from European Union can be ensured that the GDPR grants them the following rights:
Discord is a great alternative to other programs for communication. It has a lot of advantages and a simple and intuitive interface. That’s incredible how fast Discord gained its audience and became a place where people can share their interests, find companions and learn more about the Web 3.0 world. Use it or not – the decision is yours 😉.
Initially, NFT was designed with exclusively good intentions. Non-fungible tokens were supposed to help artists monetize and sell their artworks without a buying agent. And if initially, NFT seemed to be a new step in the development of digital art, today, unfortunately, the NFT phenomenon is increasingly being associated with a “bubble”. The unpleasant truth is that the NFT market is filled with scammers and fraudsters, which are harmful both to artists and buyers.
NFT still remains an unknown field for many, and this fear is understandable. Indeed, the development of Web 3.0 is bridging for users not only a better Internet of the future but also room for fraud and scam schemes. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that it’s not the fault of NFT invention but cybercriminals. It’s like blaming the cars for the accidents on the roads. In fact, when something new becomes extremely popular, like decentralized finance (DeFi) or the latest version of Web 3.0, there are always risks.
Instead of just being afraid, it would be more reasonable to be able to recognize the danger. Understanding the most common types of NFT fraud should help you to avoid it. Let’s look at the common scam schemes related to NFT:
One of the most unpleasant types of NFT fraud is pump-and-dumps. This is a manipulative scheme to raise the value of a cryptocurrency with a subsequent price collapse. Large asset owners artificially increase (“pump up”, “pump down”) their value to sell later as much as possible to small traders. As a result, the value of the asset goes down, and hence, investors lose money.
NFT scammers often use false information to raise the minimum price of the NFT (it is a representation of the lowest price of a commodity updated in real-time) that a potential buyer is interested in. If the scammers succeed, they sell their goods and leave buyers empty-handed. This type of scam is very common in Telegram or Discord. Be aware: sometimes, even celebrities and influencers can actively promote such tokens. If such a celebrity writes to you in your personal message with the offer, most probably, it is a fraudster.
The second type of scam is an “old-good” fishing scam, which aims to get the user’s identity information. Scammers can use fake pop-ups to link to perfectly normal and not suspicious-looking pages (such as your crypto wallet). This often works for newbies, as they find it difficult to make a transaction, and without thinking twice, they accept the offer to invest in NFT. That is how they fall into the scammers’ trap. After the user inserts their personal data, the information immediately falls into the criminals’ hands.
This type of NFT scamhappens when someone tries to resell their own non-fungible token. When scammers achieve the highest bid, they switch out the cryptocurrency to one of lesser value.
Staying anonymous while selling or buying NFTs makes it easier to create investment scams. Criminals create a seemingly lucrative project for investment. Once scammers obtain the money, they disappear without a trace.
Another common NFT scam concerns intellectual property and copyright. For example, scammers simply take the artist’s work and turn it into an NFT. Buyers will think they are investing in original artwork and will bid high when, in fact, it is just worthless fiction.
The main problem with the NFT market now is that the platforms where artists (as well as scammers) post content for sale do not check the works for authenticity or establish copyright in any way. Theoretically, any user can collect pictures of different authors from the Internet and put them up for sale as a collection. Often, the illustrators are not even aware that their work is for sale; meanwhile, the scammers make money.
Now, since we know the potential danger, the next step will be to learn several rules on how to protect yourself from the scam schemes:
Watch your information security carefully. Keep your keys safe and private. Never share cryptocurrency wallet information with anyone. And, obviously, don’t put your personal information into various unverified pop-up windows.
Create strong passwords. It sounds trivial, but creating strong passwords for NFT accounts and cryptocurrency wallets is essential.
Don’t click on questionable links. This can be fishing or a virus.
Follow the news. Scammers never sleep and come up with new ways to still money.
Check NFT sellers. Before purchasing NFT, take a look at the seller’s NFT marketplace account. They must have a blue check verification mark. Also, it will not be superfluous to have a glance at the seller’s social media accounts and online reviews.
Cross-check NFT prices. Before buying an NFT, look at the trading platforms (Axie Marketplace, Mintable, or OpenSea). Prices must be similar. If the NFT price seems much lower or higher than on legitimate trading platforms, most probably, it is a scam. It’s always better to use legit NFT exchange markets, such as OpenSea, Rarible, Mintable, Foundation, MakersPlace, and Axie Marketplace.
Know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. For example, before you buy an NFT, it would be wise to look at the entire history of transactions on it. In addition, find the creator's contact information and make inquiries about them. If all transactions were made around the same specific date, that should obviously raise some suspicions.
Many may say that NFTs are nothing more than overpriced PNG files that are simply a scam. But there is also an opposite view: NFT opens new horizons for artists and art buyers. Obviously, there is always someone trying to gain from NFT scams. But don’t rush to make certain conclusions that all NFTs are scams. After all, when we make an important purchase outside the Internet, there is always the risk of meeting unscrupulous sellers, right?