Pedro L. Rodriguez from Horizon Media on Augmenting Our Physical Reality in the Metaverse

Pedro L. Rodriguez from Horizon Media on Augmenting Our Physical Reality in the Metaverse

Interview by Ricardo Esteves
Published: October 03, 2022

Who is Pedro L. Rodriguez?

As head of Chapter & Verse at Horizon Media, Pedro is directly involved in all things Web 3.0 and perfectly positioned to walk us through it. Before, Pedro created and produced blogs and podcasts, mostly around tech and social media.

We’re sure you’ve heard of Web3 or the Metaverse. They have been the talk of the town for some time, even if most don’t actually understand what they are. That’s not the case with Horizon Media (HM), an agency that has invested in the Metaverse and all things Web3 by launching a specialized unit called Chapter & Verse.

To tell us more about these ideas and concepts, we reached out to HM’s SVP for Business Growth and Digital Marketing & Transformation, Pedro L. Rodriguez, who is also the Head of Chapter & Verse.

And while this won’t be an intensive course on Web3 or the Metaverse, it will help identify its potential and what’s on the horizon.

Spotlight: With the Metaverse and Web3's inherent concepts prevalent today, how many industries do you think they will reach, and what’s the most significant impact they may have on businesses?

Pedro L. Rodriguez: When you consider “game changing” moments in technology, you think about hardware innovations and the behaviors they enabled, e.g., computers, mobile phones, etc. Now, with Web3, industries and brands are becoming increasingly focused on blockchain, cryptocurrency, smart contracts, NFTs, decentralized finance (DeFi), Web3, and the metaverse: they are all behavior-changing technologies.

On the one hand, there’s the potential of an alternative, decentralized system, for value exchange that challenges our understanding about the role of central brands and the established ways we activate communities of interest. On the other hand, there are people who believe that Web3 is nothing more than a fad which can be easily ignored. No technology is ever “either-or.” Now is the time to test and learn.

Get connected with the right AR/VR development agency for your project.

While there's much excitement over Web3, there's also a lot of suspicions and many who resist it, especially the NFT market. Why do you think that is, and what would you say to people that are not comfortable with Web3?

It’s fair to have apprehension about anything that challenges “how things are done”, because there may be a different approach. When you have 66% of people saying they have never heard of NFTs before, with only 12% saying they are confident in their understanding of NFTs, you can see that translated to only 6% of people saying they have purchased an NFT.  

If you think back to “the cloud” and the education that took take place in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s around the technology and its benefits, you can draw the parallel with where we are today with Web3, as an example.

Ultimately, lack of knowledge and education is a key barrier to adoption. Even the most interested Early Adopters are concerned about financial risk and scams associated with purchasing NFTs, such as the 'Evolved Apes Scam in 2021' where $2.7MM vanished from online accounts.  It is going to take education around safe practices, while ownership transparency will help alleviate concerns.

As far as “the metaverse,” if you choose to think of the metaverse as cartoon characters in a cartoon universe, then that's all the metaverse is ever going to be. There are lots of companies who are experimenting with animated metaverses such as Roblox, Decentraland, The Sandbox, Fortnite, Bloktopia, Zepeto, etc.

If, however, you think of the metaverse as a combined digital and physical world, you can easily imagine technologies that "augment" our physical reality and mix our real-life experiences with our digital ones. It's a more expansive and more exciting way to think about the future.

Fortnite Ariana Grande
[Source: Fortnite Wiki] Fortnite has been a pioneer in the Metaverse, featuring movie trailers premieres and live in-game concerts, including one with Ariana Grande.

Enter Chapter & Verse. What triggered the need for an industry first standalone unit for such technologies?

At Horizon Media, we have over 33 years of working to ensure we meet client needs across the media spectrum. You have really seen this accelerate over the past 10 years with the launch affiliates that provide services that unlock opportunities for brands invested in the media landscape, to drive consumer behavior.

For example, we launched Blue Hour Studios in 2019 (Content), and Night Market in 2020 (eCommerce Consultancy), and now Chapter & Verse for Web3 and related subareas (e.g. NFTs, metaverse).

Chapter and Verse logoCan you tell our readers what Chapter & Verse is and how it helps clients and businesses in their digital marketing efforts?

We assist clients in Web3 (e.g. the Metaverse) around Consumer Executions with experiences on existing platforms (NFTs, Roblox, etc.), and Brand Applications regarding the use of blockchain for business purposes (CSR, Sourcing, Cyrpto Readiness, Web2-Web3 Transition, etc.).

We do so with the following offerings: Consulting, which focuses on education about the space and how best to approach the Metaverse […]; Creative Concepting & Development by helping brands build immersive experiences within the Metaverse […]; and Event Activation, helping clients execute & optimize experiential and retail activations, including potential large-scale event marketing initiatives such as Super Bowl, Music Festivals and Red Carpet events.

The pace of innovation in Web3 and the Metaverse necessitates that we deepen our ability to meet client needs in a medium that disrupts what we know about the role of media in the lives of consumers. In order to achieve this, we must THINK differently by assembling disruptors to drive strategies that will help our clients win; BUILD from scratch by deploying engineers and developers that can create experiences; and LEAD with confidence, by truly become our client’s most trusted partner, showcasing our belief in Web3 and the Metaverse through our strategic investment.

A few months have passed since Chapter & Verse launched in June. What's been the feedback so far, and how do you see it evolving in the future?

Having developed and launched various services for the agency during my time here, the response has been strong across brand categories, and we are driving demand by capitalizing on marketing momentum.

We Launched “metaMondays” in July 2022, an education series that’s a forum and opportunity for idea sharing for the agency and clients that has seen 1K participants to date, we managed Integration and Collaboration with Brand Entertainment IP for Web3 via First Tube, and our “Well-Versed” monthly newsletter launched in September.

We are also integrating Web3 Programming into Public Facing Events, e.g., CES 2023 in development around Web3 Preparedness, inclusive of Data, Landscape, Activations and more.

Horizon Media logo

You mentioned First Tube, a company Horizon Media has described as being "pioneers in the experiential transformation space.” Can you please share the strategy behind First Tube's acquisition, and how it fits into the company’s vision for Chapter & Verse?

Chapter & Verse is the umbrella for Web3, while Web3-enabled premium content can be produced in partnership with FirstTube. We are building an ecosystem to support the needs of the Web3 future that we are preparing our clients for.

Increasingly, in a fragmented media environment and future decentralized state of platforms, brand health will hinge on next-gen consumer engagement to communicate, interact with, and provide a value exchange to convert audiences.

Finally, what are your thoughts on Web 5, and how is it going to impact businesses moving forward?

User data has been commoditized, and an environment that provides portability for the user is not only a win for consumers, but an opportunity for brands to innovate through next-gen engagement solutions to provide a valuable exchange to audiences.

Keep up with Horizon Media on Instagram @horizonmediainc and discover more interviews with industry movers and shakers here

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