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Meta Announces Coming Digital Payment and NFT Options as it Advances Towards the Metaverse

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Meta Announces Coming Digital Payment and NFT Options as it Advances Towards the Metaverse

Given the current volatility in crypto markets, which have been intrinsically connected to the current NFT trend, it seems like a strange time for Meta to be making a bigger push on NFTs, and its various NFT projects across its apps.

But that’s what it’s doing, with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announcing coming digital payment options, and Meta previewing new NFT features, along with a new guide as to how NFTs work to help people get into the market.

First off, on payments – as part of a broader confirmation of the re-naming of ‘Facebook Pay’ to ‘Meta Pay’ instead, Zuckerberg has also announced that Meta’s working on a new ‘wallet for the metaverse’ which will provide a more integrated way to securely manage your digital identity and purchases.

As explained by Zuckerberg:

In the future there will be all sorts of digital items you might want to create or buy – digital clothing, art, videos, music, experiences, virtual events, and more. Proof of ownership will be important, especially if you want to take some of these items with you across different services. Ideally, you should be able to sign into any metaverse experience and everything you’ve bought should be right there. There’s a long way to get there, but this kind of interoperability will deliver much better experiences for people and larger opportunities for creators.”

This is Meta’s big, long-term vision, that users will be able to hold ownership of digital items beyond a singular app or space – so if you buy an outfit for your character in Fortnite, you’d be able to wear that same outfit on your Facebook Avatar in a business meeting, theoretically.

There’s a long way to go in making this a reality, as Zuckerberg notes, but Meta has also recently signed up to a new ‘Metaverse Standards Forum’ to establish interoperability standards for the metaverse space, while this new wallet would also look to connect with other apps and tools, beyond Meta’s apps, to facilitate such connection.

It’ll take time, and many agreements to enable such. But this is another indicator of where Meta is headed, and the opportunities of the next digital connection space.

Which is also where NFTs, theoretically, come in, and after launching an initial test of NFT display options on Instagram last month, Meta is now looking to expand that to more creators ‘in a handful of additional countries’, as it seeks to establish another means to facilitate digital connection.

“Creators and collectors will be able to share their digital collectibles across Facebook and Instagram after we begin rolling out the feature on Facebook with select US creators at a later date. We’ll also soon start to test NFTs in Instagram Stories with SparkAR.”

Instagram NFTs are already viewable in AR, and the integration into Stories will provide another, advanced means of showcasing digital artworks in the app, which could help to spark more interest in the broader NFT trend.

Though as noted, that interest is waning, with search traffic for NFTs declining over time.

And as more collectors get burned by rug pulls and the ongoing crypto market crash, it seems that the NFT fad will taper off significantly – but the broader view, as Meta notes, is that digital items will see greater focus as we advance towards the next stage, maybe not as profile pictures of bored apes, as such, but as variable digital objects, which could be traded and displayed via the same means as current NFTs.

Which has merit. I personally don’t think that anyone will be impressed by your crappy JPEGs of badly drawn characters in future, but I do see that the capacity to purchase digital items, and retain ownership of such across spaces, will be of significant value at some stage.

That’s why it’s worth learning about NFTs, and understanding the underlying processes, which Meta is also looking to facilitate with its new NFT overview.

Meta NFT guide

It’s a basic explainer of the core principles of NFTs – which, in some ways, are getting a bad name because of all the NFT bros and the misguided attention on scammy ‘art’ projects in this initial phase.

And then, again, there’s the market collapse, which makes this an odd push – but maybe now is the right time to learn, before NFTs become something else entirely different within the metaverse space.

Logically, Meta’s new NFT announcements were originally timed to coincide with the large-scale NFT NYC event happening this week, which has seen large groups of middle-aged men trudging their way through the city streets, and taking Instagram videos of digital artworks plastered across buildings.

Despite many proclamations, that’s not the future of digital connection, but the underlying process of NFT trading may well be a key aspect, which is why these new announcements from Meta are important, even in the current bear cycle for the crypto space.

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Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month

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Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month

Pinterest is taking a unique approach to Black History Month, with a new ‘Find Your Routes’ Black Travel Hub initiative, which aims to highlight places that have strong connections to Black history, while also showcasing Black-owned businesses.

As explained by Pinterest:

“Find Your Routes” is inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book aka “The Green Book”. The Green Book was a guidebook for Black travelers during the Jim Crow era that provided a list of accessible hotels, boarding houses, taverns, restaurants, service stations and other establishments throughout the country that served Black Americans patrons.”

The Black Travel Hub, which you can find here, will present a range of travel options, along with their history, with creators from the US, Colombia, Jamaica, Brazil and more, all taking part in presenting their city.

It could be a good way to provide education alongside inspiration in the app, while also helping people to connect, and support highlighted communities.

Pinterest will also be showcasing Black-owned businesses on Pinterest TV, while internally, it’s also hosting a company-wide event ‘to help employees gain knowledge about the history, present, and future of Black travel through the lens of Black Pinployees’.

As noted, it could be a good way to both spark important conversations, and inspire new travel journeys, which include an extra level of cultural understanding and education, along with a leisure break.

It’s an interesting take on the celebration either way, and it’ll be worth noting what sort of reaction the initiative gets, and whether it inspires more travel as a result.

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Snap Tumbles On Weak Revenue, Gloomy Outlook

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Snap Tumbles On Weak Revenue, Gloomy Outlook

Snap shares plunged after missing analyst expectations in Q4, while forecasting a year-over-year revenue decline.

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Snapchat Adds 12 Million Users in Q4, Posts Lower Than Expected Revenue Result

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Snapchat Adds 12 Million Users in Q4, Posts Lower Than Expected Revenue Result

Snapchat added 12 million more active users in Q4 2022, and Snapchat+ subscriptions continue to rise, but company revenue missed market estimates, in another mixed result for the private social app.

First off, on users – as noted, Snap added 12 million more actives, taking it to 375 million DAU.

As you can see, North American user growth is still flat, while European users saw a slight uptick. But it’s the ‘Rest of the World’, specifically India, which is driving Snap growth.

Which is helping to boost the overall usage numbers, and expand opportunity. But on the revenue side, it’s not pushing things forward in a significant way.

Snap Q4 2022

As you can see in this chart, Snapchat’s revenue has increased, but a key problem here is that it’s still reliant on the US and Canada for the majority of that spend, with other markets trailing well behind on the revenue front.

Snap Q4 2022

In this chart, you can see that Snap’s Revenue Per User has actually declined year-on-year – so while it is growing, it’s not bringing in revenue at equivalent scale, and it’s even going backwards in some respects.

Which is why its stagnant growth in North America is a problem – though Snap has also seen take-up of its Snapchat+ subscription service increase.

“In Q4, our subscription service Snapchat+ reached over 2.0 million paying subscribers. Snapchat+ offers exclusive, experimental, and pre-release features, and in Q4 we launched new features such as Custom Story Expiration and Custom Notification Sounds, providing subscribers with over 12 exclusive features.”

That’s a handy additional revenue stream, but as with all social media subscription services (including Twitter Blue), take-up is generally limited, and at 2 million subscribers, that’s still only 0.5% of Snapchat’s active user base that’s been willing to pay extra for these add-on elements.

Snap has also faced challenges in rebuilding its ad business, in the wake of Apple’s iOS 14 update, which has impacted data collection, and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says they still have some way to go on this yet:

“We continue to face significant headwinds as we look to accelerate revenue growth, and we are making progress driving improved return on investment for advertisers and innovating to deepen the engagement of our community.”

Snap has seen improvement in its commerce integrations, which includes digital items for Bitmoji avatars which Snap is eventually looking to translate into real-world item sales as well. Snap also says that it’s facilitated over than 161 million product trials by over 35 million Snapchatters for Walmart, leveraging its Catalog-Powered Shopping Lenses at-scale.

Snapchat AR shopping

Those point to bigger opportunities, but right now, amid the broader economic downturn, and restrictions on data collection and targeting, Snapchat is in a tough spot, and will be for some time yet.

Essentially, then, you’re banking on Snap’s future, and its advanced tools that could help it better align with expanded AR and VR use. And Snap is seemingly in a good position on this front – though again, the impacts of the last year, which also forced Snap into lay-offs, will also have some effect.

Really, then, the results here are relative to your perspective.

For advertisers, more Snap users means more potential reach – but most of Snap’s growth is coming from outside the US. More advanced AR activations could become a bigger deal in future, but it depends on how you’re looking to connect, and product fit.

Investors won’t be overly happy with the numbers, but there are positive signs on the horizon. It’s just that the horizon, in this respect, remains well in the distance at this stage.

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