The Next CMO

The surreal future of virtual events with Adam Voss, CMO of SURREAL

Episode Summary

Learn how the future of virtual events will be powered by the same technology used in advanced video games.

Episode Notes

The pandemic opened the door for consumers to interact with products and services in an immersive way through technology based off the gaming industry.

Adam Voss, the CMO of Surreal, tells us it’s time for companies to begin to invest in a 3D virtual component to their traditional physical events and spaces.   With concepts taken from the gaming industry, marketers can differentiate and show products to customers in virtual environments.  Some in person events will return post-pandemic, surely,  but companies should be investing in virtual technology to socially engage with your customer and in turn, go from interactions into transactions.

It’s the beginning of a whole new way to engage with customers on the web, just like the early days of mobile marketing or web marketing, and Voss has a lot of thoughts on where immersive, 3D marketing can take marketers and customers.

Helpful links:


Adam Voss on LinkedIn

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Produced by PodForte

Episode Transcription

Episode 50 - Adam from Surreal 

[00:00:09] Kelsey Krapf: Well, thanks so much for joining us on the next CMO podcast, Adam, really excited to have you on the call would love to learn a little bit more about you and what you do for surreal. 

[00:00:20] Adam Voss: Well, so glad to be here at Kelsey and so glad to join Peter. I, um, so surreal is a first of its [00:00:30] kind browser-based virtual platform as a service, kind of like fortnights for, for live sports, entertainment, or retail. Um, we provide businesses, brands, integrated agencies, organizations, tool sets, and automation. 

Immersive multi-player environments. And in that we have, you know, we feature personalized avatar, creator, uh, you know, immersive environments, locomotion navigation, [00:01:00] user interface, that's customizable, you know, there's video and voice and text chat. And e-commerce real-time collaboration tools that is basically. 

You know, employing video game technology and using it for adjacent applications within business, be it, you know, for business to business or, or consumer applications really trying to create. Enrich it re uh, rich second screen experiences. As, as we call them are digital twins to real life [00:01:30] experiences. 

Super exciting.  

[00:01:32] Peter Mahoney: And I'm, uh, I'm excited to get into this a little bit more Adam, and, and explore some of the applications. And we should just encourage people to go to your site. We'll put a link in the show notes, but if they're, if they're not handy to people, just tell us what the, the, what link they should go to, to check  

[00:01:48] Adam Voss: out. 

It's simple, surreal Cool.  

[00:01:52] Peter Mahoney: So you have to see it because it is when I heard about what Adam was doing for the first time, I said, yeah, what's this going to be [00:02:00] like? And I saw it and I was wow, totally blown away. So what was interesting to me is that you, Adam in your team  

[00:02:08] Adam Voss: are really,  

[00:02:11] Peter Mahoney: really defining this. 

Future kind of experiences for, uh, for dealing with him, you know, what used to be done in in-person events and sort of hyper in-person. And, uh, and, and I, I suspect that you have a really [00:02:30] interesting time. On what's going to happen in a post pandemic world around how people go back and how people employ these kinds of technologies, what works, what doesn't, things like that. 

So I want to dig in a lot of areas like that, but you have to fill in a little bit of background too, because you also do this really cool 12 by 12 thing. And, uh, and, and I'd love you to just share with our audience a little bit about what, what you've done in, in that,  

[00:02:54] Adam Voss: in that series. Cause it's really cool. 

Yeah, absolutely. You know, [00:03:00] necessity is really the mother of invention. Um, so, you know, surreal, for instance, it started because, you know, I was working with, um, you know, an agency based in Chicago called echelon design. And we had been doing, um, you know, live events, activations trade shows, trying to really tell stories for our clients and help them, you know, to, to tell their stories. 

Um, and we realized that so many of the things [00:03:30] that we were learning, we wanted to share. So we created a, uh, a podcast called 12 for 12, and this was basically a podcast that went deeper into, um, Different functions of design and different functions of, of marketing, um, kind of like what you guys are doing, but we, we decided to go a little step deeper and make it video. 

And at the time, like, you know, I just adored everything that Anthony Bordain [00:04:00] was doing and having that kind of like, you know, live immersive, you know, kind of a walk and talk, follow style with really interesting locations that led us to create. From a, a, an audio podcast only we did a season of that. And then we started with our first season in 2016 of, um, doing kind of a Bordain for brands type show, um, which I got to host. 

And I was like, kind of a, an ex second city, narcissist. I love being on camera and I, I [00:04:30] love to talk and I love to engage with people and find out what makes them. Tip. You're like, what, why, why they're doing it? I mean, everybody's got a cool origin story. Every entrepreneur has like great like drama stories like that. 

Just the struggle to build something. So it was all about consumer focused brands. And we started our first season in Chicago and we went to, you know, companies like intelligentsia or my Alma mater, the second city, or, you know, um, goose [00:05:00] island brewery or, you know, Fosha chocolate. And we, we basically look at the people that started it, the product that they, that they really, um, you know, created the fandom from the process that is always. 

You know, crucial to whatever they're making and then really the passion that envelope, the whole story, and then how they told the story. So it was for us a great way to a meet people. B you know, it's this great freemium thing. If you have somebody on your show and say, [00:05:30] Hey, we're going to spend the money. 

We're going to send the crews there. We're going to do the edit. We're going to, we're going to give you a great piece of marketing. Then they usually come back and. Oh, wow. We really like to, we liked what you guys are doing. Would you be interested in doing some work for hire and that's how the relationship starts? 

And I think that's how, like, all relationships should start because it's like, I'm, I'm interested in you. Do you want a date in your life? Let's see, and it's like, you're a bad kisser. I don't want to date you. And you know, but if you do have a [00:06:00] bond, you know, not everything works, but if you do, when it does work, it, we found it worked about 30% of the time. 

It was amazing. And then we found that even more amazing is if you have that, that show that you can show a client, a current client or a prospect, then they go, oh, would you white label that for me? So, I mean, we white labeled 12 for 12 for Jones, Lang LaSalle, JLL, the big corporate commercial real estate company. 

We did it for the waffle house. [00:06:30] Um, we did it for solar, which is a giant waffle  

[00:06:33] Peter Mahoney: house in Jones. Lang LaSalle are two companies. I usually think about in the same breath. Yeah. And by the way I am, I'm totally jealous of the, the, I am a high quality production fan boy, and, and I'll, I'll tell our listeners, you got to go check this stuff out because it's just really well done. 

I'm really jealous that you've you had the resources and the talent to put together [00:07:00] just some really amazing content. And I'm sure. That as someone who really appreciates that kind of production value, that must have led into the kind of experiences you were trying to create in virtual world. It is it. 

Can, can you talk about how, how you went from, from point a to point B? Because it's obviously a it's feels like it's related, but, but it's also just [00:07:30] a, a huge leap forward to go from a, you know, really great digital editing suites and great talent to a, a massively sophisticated tech platform that will create virtual worlds for people to participate in instead of. 

[00:07:47] Adam Voss: Yeah, absolutely. I just, just for the record, I don't know if, if talent or resources were part of our equation. Um, you know, it's, it's a mantra that we have that, uh, the CEO of [00:08:00] surreal and my partner for the last seven years. Uh it's it's make it until you make it. It's not about faking it. It's about the concept of just keep creating. 

Um, the more you create, the more you'll. Refine the more you'll fail, the more you'll learn what works and what doesn't. Um, and that's kind of the story with, with surreal, uh, you know, we were, um, in negotiations with NBC universal to sell 12 for 12. Um, at the same time, you know, [00:08:30] we we'd been doing a lot of live events. 

I mean, you know, CES and Dreamforce and, you know, south by Southwest. Um, and we would also, you know, For echelon design, I was running our production hub for, you know, um, videos, be it corporate or commercial. And, um, we started to use the unreal engine, which is epic games, proprietary software. It's a, it's a, you know, this great code that you can basically create these rich, almost a [00:09:00] photo, real rendered environments. 

And so we were doing that for clients in the home and lifestyle sector doing, you know, product room scene. So if you think about it, You know, your restoration hardware catalog, these beautiful room scenes now are mostly computer generated. So, you know, it's so much easier in terms of workflow to create this with unreal engine than to get a photographer, get the product, move it in and out. 

So that's, that's what we started doing as, um, static images. And then we [00:09:30] started doing it with dynamics and started doing, you know, studio productions. Non-linear um, Uh, video, which was all in unreal. And that gave us kind of, you know, the, um, the tools, the technology, and just to know how to pivot to a virtual events space. 

Now, this is something we've been talking about in 2019, but the cards really fell in place. And, you know, 2020 with the pandemic, really the, the week of March 9th, 2020. [00:10:00] Shutting down live events. As, as we know them, it was just a watershed change. And we knew that we needed to mobilize. So, um, my partners, uh, Nick grant, who is our chief product officer and Josh was our CEO and, and myself who was a freshman Virgin CMO. 

I, you know, we, we got together and we said, okay, what is this we want to build? What is the roadmap? And we just started working with our team of developers. Again, pulling in the right folks. It [00:10:30] was all about finding people, making those relationships and bringing the best expertise together. And you know, like Fortnite, we wanted to have kind of that, that environment where you could do a Travis Scott type concert. 

I mean, you know, in 11 minutes he made $20 million. You know, so many folks on the platform wanting to participate and, you know, we've talked to epic games and they're saying it's like, this is something that needs to be replicated. But at the same [00:11:00] time, we were also pivoting to a virtual event space because so many businesses needed to have internal meetings. 

They needed to have product launches. They needed to connect with customers. So we wanted to create something that was avatar based. That was browser based. So you could easily log in. There was no heavy app to download that was easy to navigate that the user interface was very much like teams or zoom, which, you know, kind of are leading [00:11:30] kind of that UI. 

Um, And so we just, again, we just made it until we made it right. And so we had a, our first event, um, was in November of 2020, we officially launched the company in March of 2021. And we went from, you know, this is how fast this the cycle is. Right. We went right. Building a virtual event space where it was like, you know, it's it's templates with, you know, your, your main [00:12:00] hub and your, your, um, breakout sessions and your, your, um, plenary sessions and meeting rooms. 

And we had a VR, we have a virtual food court and we have virtual trade show hall and you eat, you know, it was all about. Verisimilitude like convincing the user that, although they're looking through a window, they're actually, they're playing a game. So just kind of like my 16 year old sign was hanging out with his friends, playing red, dead redemption, and sitting around that, you know, [00:12:30] Western campfire and just hanging out. 

That's the same thing we wanted to do for the corporate sets. So they could actually feel like they were together and, and, you know, we could stream video in there. You know, you could, you could play video, you could sit down at any chair and open up a web chat, just like we're doing right now over zoom. 

Um, having that kind of freedom to choose your own adventure, explore the space. We found that people loved it, but what we found really early on. [00:13:00] Events are a great annuity, right? So, you know, every year you're going to have CES, you're going to have AWS, but it's a fixed period of time. Like it it'll last three days or a week, two weeks maybe, but then it closes down. 

Now, if you're going to build a bespoke customized world, For, you know, interaction and transaction, you know, if you could keep it up longer, if it could be an always on experience or virtual headquarter or training [00:13:30] center, we thought, oh my gosh, this is a going to be a better deal for our customers. Be a revenue generator. 

So we went from surreal 1.0, which was really focused on events B to B and B to C to some extent, but then surreal 2.0 was all about. Creating an enriching fan experiences. Like the one thing that we know, and I know you guys know this, that fans build brands. So, you know, that's why like licensing IP. I mean, we did a 12 for 12 on [00:14:00] Funko. 

They're the most, they licensed the most IP more than any consumer brand in the world. So it's like, you know, look at Lego and I used to play, I don't know, you guys play Legos, but like Les has used to just be like little toy blocks. But once you start licensing IP, then you get all of these different fan bases coming together and they're, they're wanting to, to engage with the same product. 

So that's kind of surreal 2.0, and then surreal 3.0, which we're working on now with a capital raise. We're in a series, a investment [00:14:30] raise right now, but it's all about automating and creating tool sets. You guys can do it. There's a game company that is kind of like the paradigm for me. It's called manta Corp and manta Corp is basically a company that allows users to create their own video games. 

Now, how cool is that? It's like YouTube. For games. Yeah. Well it's like  


[00:14:53] Peter Mahoney: about the Twitch model, right? So yeah. So, so Twitch really took off in, in, in it's it's [00:15:00] funny because the, because what it did is it turned the content creation on the users and then all of a sudden it just goes, goes nuts. Uh, and it's really fascinating to me how you've really leveraged. 

Learnings from the gamer world. And, and it's, it's incredible to me how advanced. The gaming world is compared to everyone else in the planet, uh, around some of these technologies are around [00:15:30] this hyper realism around the performance that  

[00:15:33] Adam Voss: you need to be able to, to achieve, uh, the, the immersiveness and even some of  

[00:15:39] Peter Mahoney: the tools. 

I mean, the fact that they have these, these engines and toolkits that they've populated out there to get more people developing on these platforms is amazing. And, and I'm surprised more people haven't tapped it. And in, uh, in applied those, those constructs that the gamer world has developed [00:16:00] and built more business applications on top of them, because it's just, it's such a powerful set  

[00:16:05] Adam Voss: of assets to start with. 

Yeah, I mean, it's happening, we're it? We're if you look at the, kind of the, this van of where we are right now, it's the rise of omni-channel right. Everybody's online. Everybody's everybody's trying to approach things from every challenge. Then you've got the explosive growth of gaming. You know, Accenture released a paper a month ago that the total available market for video games was north of 300 [00:16:30] billion right now. 

Um, there was a, uh, a quote that came out this week from, um, another company. I I'm trying to remember the market research company, but it was like virtual events are north of 700 billion. Um, you know, fortune a few months ago said 3d virtual. You know, 41.58 billion by 2027. So you've got. This, this growth of gaming, especially during the pandemic when people were home [00:17:00] and they were, they were online and gaming is very siloed in terms of the monetization within the game. 

If you look at like most games in most games, They spend about a hundred dollars per month in micro-transactions. So you know that your, your clientele for this type of solution, creating a virtual platform or virtual space or digital twin, they, they need to justify the costs because, you know, [00:17:30] server time's expensive. 

You know, art creation is expensive. They want to create something that will continually grow and make money. Now, you know, within a gaming investment. No, you can, you can have ticketed revenue. You could have, you know, NFT sales, you can have, you know, e-commerce from merge to exclusive merchandise drops. 

You've got a food ordering. You can do, um, you know, player meet and greets. If you're with sports teams or, you know, have influencers in there. Um, there's really [00:18:00] just, there's no limit to what you can, you can do. And you know, right now, It's just kind of the perfect time. I mean, really 2020 set us ahead five to seven years in terms of fast-forwarding technology to accept these types of, of, of virtual platforms. 

Um, so it's, it is kind of the wild west. I mean, there are not a lot of companies, like if you Google right now, you know, avatar based virtual platforms, [00:18:30] there are not a lot that are doing what we're doing. Yeah. To be where we are right now is incredible. I mean, we, we recently got an epic mega grant, um, and epic has been a big supporter of surreal. 

And one of the reasons is, you know, we've just our scrappy. Um, it's, you know, it's, it's about just making it, we went really fast. We did a really quick pivot. We've got the right people on board, um, and, um, kind of [00:19:00] incredulous that we're here right now because you know, I, I think a lot of people, you know, it's, it's about strategy. 

And for us as producers, it's always been about, you know, execution and execution. It's speed and quality. You know, you talk about wanting to have a solution that is, is beautiful. That is our full that, um, people want to use. And I think that's, that's what we've created. Um, I  

[00:19:29] Kelsey Krapf: think with [00:19:30] the surreal 3.0, one of the things that you've been able to take is the learning lessons of two 20 and 2 21. 

And just expedite so far, because I think of one of the, you know, conferences that I went to this year was the big HubSpot conference, you know, 20,000 people are going, um, normally to this in-person event and they had to find a way to adapt. They created that avatar experience, but you're taking it to the next level of, of giving companies that customization, being able to build out that experience that they want their [00:20:00] business and their brand to have. 

[00:20:02] Adam Voss: Yeah.  

[00:20:03] Peter Mahoney: And if you, if you think on, on that note, if you think about the, your, your now peers in your, I like you, the way you described yourself as a, as a Virgin CMO, uh, the, uh, if you think about the CMOs out there, how should they be thinking about their, their plans for. Uh, for [00:20:30] engaging in and participating in, uh, you know, what used to be called the venting. 

I don't even know if you call them events anymore. I, I, before we started the record button, we were talking about the fact that I had a back and forth with a CMO group that I participate in. And a lot of people are asking, are you going, are you planning to have your customers go to realtime in-person events anymore? 

No one knows the answer. How should CMOs think of that? Uh, event marketing in the next couple  

[00:20:59] Adam Voss: of [00:21:00] years. Well, I mean, you know, again, take this with a grain of salt because I am a Virgin CML, but I would definitely say the future is going to be horrible. You know, uh, dot, dot, dot. I don't, I don't think we will ever go back to a point where you are required to be 100% live in order to engage with a new client or to make the sale or to, you know, to show what you do. 

[00:21:30] I mean, the technology exists and we as a, as a species. Have adapted, I think pretty deft fully to, um, to this virtual reality now, you know, connecting these Fort Lite Fortnite like Mehta Versal experiences, um, is really an important thing to look forward to. I mean, I think CMOs now absolutely need to start building in this chair. 

You know, um, [00:22:00] the metaverse is going to be a slow process. I think we are on to the next level of the internet, right? Where you are going to start engaging. Um, more virtually and you are going to be in, I mean, so like right now we're creating second screen experiences. Like we are creating a way to engage with a brand or a product or a company. 

Um, that's, that's more immersive. That is, is gamified. It's [00:22:30] again, it's a video game fill in the blank, but that is going to lead to the next level, which is actually. Putting you inside the experience. So not I'm looking through the looking glass, but being inside of it. Um, and, and that's, again, that's full. 

Fully immersive being in the screen, you know, VR, haptic interface, Tesla, body suit, the whole nine yards, like the ready player one metaverse. But, but right now for my age or Tron, [00:23:00] yes. Yeah, exactly. The first Tron. Not the line. Yeah, exactly. The, you know, the, the, the overlords right now are the ones. Or the overloads in the future are the ones that start now. 

So, I mean, that's my first piece of advice. If you haven't invested in, you know, looking into a 3d virtual component to your physical in-person events, start doing that now. [00:23:30] Um, the second is, is really start thinking about, um, You know, the, the, the digital twin and in essence of like, what, what are the properties, or what are, what is the IP that your, your buyer or your fan is attracted to and how can you get, get them into that experience? 

Um, so that they can do it whenever they want. Like that kind of always on thing. Um, you know, we have a. Uh, uh, uh, an e-commerce experience we call [00:24:00] we com, which is basically how can you play a video game with a friend and go shopping with them? How can you have like a differentiated, you know, experience with a customer where you're showing them products that they can interact with in a virtual environment? 

[00:24:16] Peter Mahoney: Yeah. W we, in fact, I remember, uh, gosh, it must've been in the peak of the pandemic. I can look at my notes here. It was, uh, It was, maybe it wasn't in the peak. Maybe it was in April. Should I [00:24:30] guess we're coming down off things. We had a remember Greg Brian from cannon Kelsey. We had on, on the podcast and, uh, he, uh, he is, uh, works for cannon and they make these, he worked for the part of Canada that makes these giant devices and, and you, you have to, for them, they were really struggling. 

How do we think about. Uh, the virtual trade show kind of thing. When people are used to being able to come up and look and touch it, this big machine [00:25:00] that we want them to buy the cost of a hundred thousand dollars or whatever it costs. Uh, and, and, uh, they, they were thinking at the time about creating these virtual showrooms and they, they started to create one on their uh, experience. 

And, uh, so tell us a little bit about if you don't make a physical. If you're a provider, you're, you're a SAS software provider. Like Plannuh as an example, why should you care about a 3d immersive [00:25:30] world experience for your customers? What's what's the value prop to, to the marketer and to the customer of that kind of experience. 

[00:25:39] Adam Voss: Yeah. The game is a foot, right? I mean, it's, it's all about being social first. And for us, you know, just as gaming platforms were developed to, to play socially the same as true when it, when it's applied to business, when, you know, EV. Is [00:26:00] sales, you know, if you're selling your personal brand or you're selling, you know, your marketing software and that, and sales is, is, is really, I mean, yes, you, you, you do need to do the brick and mortar. 

You, you need to do, you know, all of the, the tackling of like, you know, w what's what's your marketing going to be? What's your strategy going to be, but really it's it's relationship based. And, and those are. You know, that's how you grow your brand, how you grow your business is having relationships. And if you can't travel because [00:26:30] of cost or, or, you know, carbon footprint or pandemics, or, you know, coming down a pipe, you you've, you've got to figure out a way that you can be socially engaged with your customer and with your product that you can, you can do demos, you can do, um, you know, uh, launches and releases, you know, in a way. 

That is engaging, that it encourages exploration that gives your customer a chance to explore your product or your, you know, your, [00:27:00] um, your footprint organically. And, you know, that's the first thing that we did was surreal is like, how can we have the accidental collisions? I mean, people play video games, Minecraft for instances is all about going in and making stuff and exploring and bumping into people will, how can you do that? 

Like you do it in a real trade show, or if you do it in a real event. So that's kind of how we, we, we engineered our product was let's let everybody else decide what they [00:27:30] want to do. And this the same kind of with surreal 3.0, it's like, let, let's let other people and other businesses figure out what they want to make. 

We will enable the tools. If you think about that. Games. They had their unreal engine marketplace, where you can go in and you can, you can pick different components to put into your environment. Well, that's the same, same thing we're doing in our space is creating the ability for other people to create, which is, you know, it's really more empowering. 

You want to help other people do what [00:28:00] they want to do.  

[00:28:02] Peter Mahoney: Are you seeing the application for even an internal collaboration? It at this stage because of course more and more companies are now permanently at minimum hybrid and sometimes completely virtual. Do you see that or is really, do you think that the investment at this stage of the market more centered on,  

[00:28:25] Adam Voss: uh, on, uh, you know, customer  

[00:28:27] Peter Mahoney: and Reverend revenue centric? 

[00:28:28] Adam Voss: Kind of? [00:28:30] I think so. I mean, at this point right now, We're so early, we are like at the tip of the spear. It's the four it's the, the, the wild, wild west in terms of, of what's going to come. Um, so. In, in order for, uh, companies to make these types of investment, they really do want to see some sort of return on investment. 

And, and, you know, we've, we've taken that position of, [00:29:00] yes, you want to have rich interactions, but you want to turn those interactions into transactions. So you can actually, you know, create revenue from this platform instead of, you know, just dump money into it. Now that said, you know, the events market for. 

You know, much of it is not, it's not really direct revenue. Creating it it's, you know, it's, it's creating the long-term benefits of, of, of sales, but it's not, you know, it's not [00:29:30] transactional. Um, you know, so real really serves clients in audiences of all size and scale. And we're, we're, we're meant for any industry. 

You know, our verticals right now that we're focusing on are really, you know, sports and fan engagement. So we're, um, engaging with a major league baseball team in the south. I can't really tell you which one, but they have an a on their hat. Um, we've, you know, we're doing. We, we still have our weight, the [00:30:00] Astros  

[00:30:00] Peter Mahoney: or the Braves both have A's don't they  

[00:30:03] Adam Voss: think? 

So you can't say anymore,  

[00:30:06] Peter Mahoney: we weren't going to get a scoop. The first podcast scoop we ever got, but no,  

[00:30:10] Adam Voss: the first ever, um, I think retail and consumer experiences were currently, uh, going into a partnership. Like I also can mention, uh, that it's more of a retail engagement, um, automotive, which is great. If you look at, um, You know, automotive is it's data, but it's kind of the forefront in [00:30:30] terms of visualization, like being able to build your own car online. 

And now that's kind of where we're going. That next direction. We've done a bunch of stuff for still antice, which is formerly the Fiat auto group, you know, Fiat-Chrysler and they have 14 iconic brands in their constellation and we're, you know, continuing to help them music and entertainment, you know, so many vendors. 

Uh, have suffered through the pandemic and, and now once some sort of virtual component [00:31:00] and they had a fan base to do it, concert promoters as well. I mean, again, I mentioned Travis Scott. There, you know, the Fortnite folks were approached by several major, major stars and they want to do that kind of experience. 

But, you know, Fortnite is its own thing and they don't have the means. So it's like, one of the things surreal wants to do is be, you know, be the DeWalt. And, and open up these kinds of experiences for, for other brands. Um, the virtual headquarters thing you mentioned, I think is an interesting thing. I [00:31:30] don't, I don't think we're quite there in terms of the, always on costs of getting these, you know, you know, Amazon web, you know, G three and G4 servers running constantly. 

It's an expensive endeavor. Um, but you know, with that, you can do education and training. Um, and you can, you can do, you know, offense through the space. So it's, it's all happening and there's so much that you can do. And there's so much, much more that I, you know, I've been talked about that you can do, but it's again, [00:32:00] we're at the very beginning. 

[00:32:01] Peter Mahoney: And do you think that we're going to see you, you mentioned that sort of this, the next generation of the web, do you think we're going to see. Some major open communities or open ish kind of communities along with some close community. So is there going to be, uh, you know, something analogous to a Facebook or a LinkedIn that is, you know, this, this broad community that people participate in for these kinds of [00:32:30] virtual experiences. 

And then there's something that hangs off them is a group or our brands going to have their own. Th their own specific thing, what's going to be the interconnectedness of these worlds. How do you teleport from one to the other? Uh, or is it just the web? How, how does that fit together?  

[00:32:48] Adam Voss: The future? That's an amazing question. 

I mean, I think for us, we would like to be the doorway. To all of these different metatarsal experiences [00:33:00] so that, you know, you come and you create your avatar and your avatar has its profile. And, and you have, you know, your credit card, API APIs and your social media, API APIs, and that avatar. Which right now is, is based on the same Fortnite avatar. 

So you can take your Fortnite avatar into our environments, but then you can travel to different environments. Right? So I think the more open source and connected these metaverse experiences are the better for [00:33:30] everyone, because then you'll be able to go from experience to experience. That virtual identity, just like we all have digital identities now, you know, we have digital wallets are, our phones are kind of that, uh, you know, it's, it's a collection point for all of the stuff that we are. 

Um, I think, I think the next level is having a, a virtual identity, your avatar going into different, different worlds. And I, I think. Yeah, I think there'll be, I think it'll be a mix of both [00:34:00] to answer a question here it'll be connected and I think there'll be, you know, exclusives as well and private. Um, but I think we're going to benefit by, by keeping as much connected as we can. 

[00:34:12] Peter Mahoney: I completely agree that that some way to, to transport between those things are going to be pretty important. And if, as you think about these, these avatars that people create. Our, our people, our people in this kind of [00:34:30] environment is an avatar, a  

[00:34:33] Adam Voss: rich, 3d,  

[00:34:36] Peter Mahoney: descriptive. Version of your profile or is it a cloak of anonymity or is it a, uh, is it, is it a different persona that you can take from time to time? 

Uh, is it, is it your, your Clark Kang and Superman identity? What, how should we think about the, the evolution of what [00:35:00] the avatar is and in how much does that reflect? Who you are, or I keep, I go back to, you know, every metaphor in my life. It goes back to the office. It's Dwight Schrute in, in the second life episode is his, his ultimate ambition, uh, in, in this fake universe is to be a, a paper salesman in, in, in a, in a second tier market or something like that. 

Is that what's going to happen or is it going to be [00:35:30] accurate? Are there people going to have a PR this. Privacy shield or is it going to be, you're going to multiple things or  

[00:35:37] Adam Voss: something? Yeah, it's another great question. I, you know, it goes back to the name of mention of surreal. I mean, we wanted to create something that was both real and whatever you wanted to be. 

I mean, uh, you know, that the idea that it can be a one-to-one that you can use our avatar creator and take a selfie and upload that selfie and have that, you know, [00:36:00] create the dynamics of your face. But at the same time, you know, you can go into the body selector and, and lose 30 pounds or, you know, tan yourself or, you know, it it's whatever you want to be. 

I think it's going to be, again, both, you know, you'll have that veil of anonymity by creating a character. That's totally unlike you in real life. Um, so you can go in and catfish other avatars, but you know, you're also probably going to have people that want to. [00:36:30] The continuity of their brands. They want it to be as one-to-one, as possible to promote their thing in the real world. 

And I think that's the dynamic is, is keeping that bridge between the physical and the digital virtual is as much and, you know, open to interpret interpretation as you can,  

[00:36:48] Peter Mahoney: any questions here and I'm sure I'm going to run out of time and I haven't let Kelsey get a word in edgewise. But one thing I was going to ask you about was a skeuomorphism. 

Uh, and in, in this [00:37:00] world, you mentioned as an example, the idea that you should be able to go to the food court at the, with the, at the event, which to me is like the world's worst experience. Are you going to use haptics to have like that sticky tile kind of feel, but when you, when you go through that disgusting food court in those awful smells, uh, or so how important is it to fully replicate. 

The, the experience of an event [00:37:30] versus just taking the best parts or creating things that are impossible in, in an, in a typical, uh, in a typical three-dimensional.  

[00:37:43] Adam Voss: Well, yeah. With, with the gaming stuff, I mean, we're, we're at like spatial audio, you know? So we're like, you know, if I'm I'm close to your avatar, you know, I walk away, my voice will diminish. 

Like it would in real life, we haven't really got to smell a vision. Yeah. Um, but I do think, I think [00:38:00] that kind of sensory, um, Composition perspective is really important. I, I mean, again, like even, you know, Mr. Sweeney from epic games, see, like, he, he he's like that, that ready player. One paradigm is at least 50 years off. 

I don't know. I mean, The, the more users we get, um, the more it will, you know, necessitate, um, these kinds of these kind of upgrades to the [00:38:30] metaverse. I mean, right now, you know, our primary denim. Um, is in a large part, the early adopter gamer. Um, it it's really funny. We did an event, uh, last month in it, we had to train all of the trainers who were doing the events, uh, and they were mostly, you know, gen Xers like myself and baby boomers, but the uses are all gen Z, you know? 

So these are all interns and they came in and no one needed any explanation. There was no need to show them [00:39:00] how to Locomote or how. Teleporter how to use the map, or it was just amazing watching these people. Cause I was like, wow. I mean, I am definitely more of a Luddite than I am a gamer. And I'm working for a company that's building virtual platforms. 

I just thought it was so cool telling I'm sure. You know, Peter, you've got to have that same experience. We were was like, well, I don't think there's going to be an explanation for the future because they're so used to the concept. Yeah, I, I do  

[00:39:29] Peter Mahoney: [00:39:30] often, uh, I I'm at the point in my life where I, um, I relate to the Steve Buscemi. 

How do you do fellow kids meme?  

[00:39:40] Adam Voss: Right?  

[00:39:41] Peter Mahoney: Because I feel like I'm now will fart in the room all the time. And all right, one more question. And I'm going to let Kelsey ask a question and we're actually, I could keep on going for a long time here, but we have, uh, we have limited time. And if we have anyone left listening [00:40:00] after, after the time we're done, thank you by the way, for staying on, because I'm entertained, which is the primary reason for doing this podcast, by the way. 

But the, the, the, the question I was going to ask, just to bring it to the really practical and tactical for the CMOs out there is this feels like what mobile marketing was before mobile marketing really exist. Sure. It feels like what the web was before the web existed [00:40:30] or very, very early days. And this is clearly going to be, uh, a critical kind of modality for people to be able to market into and with, and as you, I think aptly brought up,  

[00:40:47] Adam Voss: it's been accelerated by five years or so. 

[00:40:50] Peter Mahoney: By the pandemic, which has forced people to think about this much faster, this capital flooding into, into this market to help accelerate, uh, P [00:41:00] people like, like you had surreal. And, uh, so how should they, how should they start? Give me a concrete thing that a CMO should do to learn and think about what they should be doing in this space. 

Or they're not caught  

[00:41:13] Adam Voss: flat. First and foremost, number one, creating a hybrid event. Straps. Focus on what you want to achieve and give yourself reasonable tenable deadlines to achieve those things. Um, investigate [00:41:30] platforms. Do your due diligence, know your audience base? There are four generations of workers currently in the workforce today. 

No. Which of those generations are your audience set? If you don't believe. Using a game like ours, a platform like unreal engine to go in and engage your customers will work because they're all in their mid sixties. Definitely figure out a different, you know, I would say more of a web broadcasting based [00:42:00] solution. 

I mean, you know, there are really, um, several different ways to get in front of your customers virtually right now there's the web conferencing. There's like zooms and team kind of thing. There's the web broadcasting there's, you know, on 24 TouchCast. But if you want to use an avatar based reality and do something, that's more of. 

You know, check out, check out what we're doing. Um, number two, I would say. You know, if, if you don't have a [00:42:30] strategy and you know, you, you don't know where to start with a strategy, I would start attending as many virtual webinars or conferences as you can, like, you know, Virtual, uh, event Institute for instance is doing stuff all the time. 

I know, I think, uh, then, uh, chador from Intrado was speaking at one tomorrow. Learn, just go out and just learn and listen. Um, I think that's, that's probably probably number one before number two, create the [00:43:00] strategy and, and three, I think it would be, you know, rinse and repeat, try, try different things because. 

You know, again, so many people had to pivot in 2020, so many people had to learn new things in 2020 and, and technology has accelerated so much from, you know, March of 20, 22, you know, now July of 2021. So, um, it's okay to fail, just fail fast and move to the [00:43:30] next thing and figure out kind of what works and what. 

[00:43:35] Kelsey Krapf: Well, I have to say out of my mind has been blown for this conversation so far, and I'm just thinking in my head of the avatars, I'm going to create, you know, the settings I'm going to do of real customized virtual experience. Um, but I guess the last question we'll ask you is, you know, what advice besides, you know, creating that, that hybrid event strategy would you give to aspiring CMOs, um, or CMOs  

[00:43:58] Adam Voss: today?[00:44:00]  

I mean, this hybrid is the future start building in this channel now. Um, again, even if it's baby steps, you, you are going to be left behind unless you get started today. I mean that stuff it's really, I think that's, that's the lesson learned, this is a new channel that will extend your reach and extend the potential of your market. 

And, you know, I it's, it's funny, even since [00:44:30] we started late 2019, I mean, there are a dozen fast followers behind us, so, you know, it's not about, you know, who's. Who's first to market. Who's about who's best to market. And you know, we're in a kind of a pull position now and we see the wolves at the door and we're yeah, of course, which is great. 

And they're, you know, that's the other thing about this, this, um, space. Is that there's so much room [00:45:00] for competition and they're there. It really is so much money in the marketplace right now. It's, it's amazing that this is kind of the time to invest and to start looking at, at virtual as a potential way to meet your clients. 

[00:45:18] Kelsey Krapf: Excellent. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Adam. I really appreciate it. Our conversation, make sure to follow the next female and Plannuh on Twitter and LinkedIn. And if you have any ideas for [00:45:30] topics or guests, you can email us at the next CMO at Plannuh dot com. Thanks Adam.  

[00:45:35] Adam Voss: Have a great day, everyone. 

Thanks guys.