May 17, 2024

Justin Hochberg, founder and CEO of the Virtual Brands Group, joins The Sandbox CMO Amit Kumar on "First Mover" to discuss the debut of The Voice Coach Battle and how a renowned IP like The Voice could accelerate the adoption of Web3.

Video transcript

Welcome back, everyone. We've turned the tables. Jen is gonna be singing one of her favorite songs for us and we'll turn it over to her happy birthday to you. Happy to you. Oh, harmony three part harmony. Happy, happy Happy Birth to you. What a selection. Love that. That was your favorite song. Everyone knows I can't carry a tune. Now you've exposed me. Like what song lyrics do? I know? None. Well, here's the good thing, most people can't sing, which is why actually, to be honest with you, we chose making the voice game or experience about coaching because everybody can sit in a chair and evaluate people whether you're good or bad. But singing is really hard. What's it gonna take to make web three more accessible? Well, a lot of people I've spoken to have said it's gonna take big recognizable intellectual property to enter the space. And with that, the audiences might follow. This next partnership brings a massive name to the web three space, the voice, the voice coach battle lets fans act like celebrity coaches and Z happened in the Metaverse platform, the sandbox joining the show now to discuss is virtual brand group, Ceo Justin Hochberg and the sandbox CMO Amit Kumar. Both of you. Welcome to first mover. Thanks for having us. Great to be here, Justin. I wanna start with you. Virtual brand group has partnered in a way with ITV studios to bring the voice to virtual worlds. Just briefly set a foundation for us and explain how that works. So the voice is a massive property. Most people know it in the United States because of NB C's airing of it, but it actually appears in another 149 different territories around the world, making it the largest brand anywhere in the world except for Coca Cola, you can find it in more places than Nike or Disney, et cetera. So if you think about the voice, they're everywhere. So it's really logical that they would be in the metaverse too because it's a way to both the light and unite their fan base. And so we work with them to make sure they can be wherever their fans are. And one of the places we feel very strongly about is the sandbox because of its creativity, its technological innovation and the way it empowers people around the world. And that's the partnership that we've recently announced. Now who approached to was the voice dying to get in the metaverse and start experimenting or was this something that maybe Ahmed over at the sandbox or just a new virtual brand group were, were telling them you know, this is something you need to explore. There are a lot of people exploring these types of worlds these days. Uh That's a great question. The nice thing about the voice is that it is a pop culture brand. If you think about things that drive pop culture music is one of them, they've got the most iconic artists in the world on there from John Le and Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, et cetera. And so those uh so ITV Studios is very cognizant that like they are part of the cultural uh dialogue on a daily basis. And so they're always looking for new ways to connect with fans. Then the question is there are lots of ways to do it. And so that's where the virtual brand group steps in which is, hey, have you looked at this, this or this and not only look at it, what's the strategy and how do we actually execute? And that's where the wonderful collaboration with Sandbox is because without their amazing technology and their vast experience launching a variety of other iconic personalities from Snoop Dogg to even it V's own Gordon Ramsay with Hell Kitchen. We wouldn't be here. Um Talk to me a little bit more about this success that uh Justin has just brought up what's been the most successful Sandbox project to date. It better be the voice. I'm telling you I want to hear. Yeah, I'm just warning you. It's the voice of course, I mean, so the experience with the Voice just launched last week. So it's brand new and fresh for us. Um But we're incredibly excited about it. Early feedback is incredibly positive. It's one of our highest rated experiences already on the platform. Um And to me to build off of Justin's Point for us, this is a fulfillment of the promise of the metaverse. It's bridging entertainment and culture between real and digital worlds. Um And our take is that users don't just wanna watch anymore. Uh The, the voice is an incredible franchise, but users want a way to engage and participate in a more meaningful way that's only enabled by an interactive platform like the sandbox. And so in this, I think what's unique is we've had a lot of really cool experiences. We, we are a platform that's uh driven both by user generated content as well as from IP S and brands like the voice. Uh But here we actually were able to build something and come up something collaboratively that uh properly engages fans of the voice. They get to actually sit in a coach's seat, they get to actually uh live the experience of being on the show in a pretty unique way. And then we're also bringing some real world rewards where if fans are able to vote correctly, which their votes are cast in the experience, but count towards the actual show, they win NFTS and they get to own those assets and, and win real tickets to the show and things like that. So we're super excited. How many active users have you seen take part in the experience in the last week? Yeah. So given that it's only a couple of days old, it's a bit early. So we don't have all the data yet. I can say that we've so far seen an average of 28 quests which are different missions within the uh experience uh being completed by users. So the engagement level is incredibly high. Um We're planning on sharing data around like user levels and D A US and engagement uh at the end of the whole uh event, can I just pause there because I think, you know, for the audience, the idea of these quests, which is 28 different actions, just think about that, right? If you just take that's 28 things that they had to do. You know, what's the last like you walked into a shop or, you know, watching a TV show or a youtube video? Are you really doing 28 different steps? That's 28 decisions where you're like, is this worth my time? Yes or no? That's an unbelievable level of engagement that I don't know, has any other analog where you can say you've done 28 things. I mean, maybe I do that for my kids. But other than that, I can't think of it. Well, tell me a little bit about the incentive for fans who are going through this process because 28 like you just mentioned, Justin sounds absolutely insane to me. I think when you're building out websites, they say like three clicks and you've lost the person if and so 28 sounds absolutely like out there. How are you incentivizing people to complete the quest? So what is keeping people so engaged? Because even if Taylor Swift was going to give me tickets to one of her European shows, I don't know if I would make it through 28 tasks, but that's just me, it comes back to the game side, right? And I think this is why the bridge between gaming is, is so important because it is one of those verticals where engagement is is king. And so I would say in, in terms of the incentives that we're giving, I mean, and there's quite a few and that's been one of the fun parts of building this experience. Uh Number one is uh users have the opportunity to earn sand, which is our token on the platform by completing different quests. Uh But the interesting part is really the the real world component. And so I would say number one, as I mentioned, users are getting the opportunity to cast votes within the sandbox that actually get tallied on a weekly basis towards the show itself, which is really unique. Um So it's not just like call in or vote online but it's actually like play and vote. Uh As another one is that uh you get the ability to earn NFTS which you own cross platform. So we have like these exclusive NFT collections including a piano, including a microphone, which you get in return for voting correctly. And then we're also giving away tickets to uh real life uh voice shows in various different countries. And so I think all that's contributing towards this blend of virtual and real life reward that's creating this sort of engagement level that we're seeing from players, Justin. I'm gonna let you hop in here. I know that you had something to say. So, say it. But I have another um question for you. Is there still a friction here? Is this still a web three audience that's participating at a web three audience who are fans of the voice who are completing the quest? And is, is there still maybe a few milestones to hit before we can welcome in all of those fans from all of the different countries to this experience? I think that's a great question because really you wanna be, you know, frictionless and you wanna be easy on boarding for anybody. I think that's the beauty of say a youtube video uh or you know, television per se, it's a really easy on board. I I think one of the reasons why the voice is so exciting is because it is a multigeneration, generational IP. So um people are like, you know, teenagers are watching with their parents. Um And so if the teenagers in the youth market can sort of bring along the other generation, I think we're gonna be in a great place. And I think that's what the sandbox is doing so incredibly well because they're centrally on pop culture brands. And if you think about the marketing funnel, it starts with, do I know this brand at the top? And I excited about the voice or whatever it is, then you get to the sandbox and you're like, OK, is this a cool game? And so the coach battle is specifically chosen because the number one thing that fans of the voice like is the idea of sitting in the red chair. If you ask them in all the surveys we've seen, it's, can I sit in the red chair? Can I hit the button? Can I spin around and then the, the other piece that's viscerally connecting to consumers is that they get to be a judge. Now, people like to judge. I think we all know that and that's how reality TV. And so if you think about that funnel, that's the way we think it on boards, bigger audience than just the core web three group. All right. And now I got to ask this because it's particularly interesting to our audience. Um And there's been a lot of engagement around it, but what's the business model here? How does this work when we're bringing Big IP into the Web three Space. And I'm asking this on the back of a story that came out that really engaged our audience on, on Twitter. Um It was Starbucks getting into the space and then getting out of the space and then it turned out that Polygon had given Starbucks a grant to participate. What are, what are the mechanics here? How do we get Big IP to come into the space and how do we get them to stay? The thing to think about here is most of the metaverse activations to date have been brand building marketing, top of funnel exercises and that's awesome. But we have always believed that it's called show business, not show marketing, right? So we think that this is a real revenue opportunity. And one of the things that made us attracted to the sandbox is their success at generating revenue through things like avatars, right? So, you know, imagine in the next iteration of this, you can buy an avatar from say Jason Derulo or will I am or Kelly Clarkson and you can own that. Um imagine the ability to not just buy something but take the IP because we think this is really important and let people adapt it. And so we are uh the other piece that we built this game experience around is, you know, TV, shows like the boy have sponsors globally, right? Every channel NBC ETF one ITV in the UK, they all have Coke, Pepsi T Mobile, whoever. So the ability to use this as a funnel for those brands much like we sell airtime on NBC here we also think is a huge opportunity. So those are just a few, but we really think this is a massive revenue opportunity over the long term. Are the two of you working on any other big partnerships that you can tell us about? I was gonna announce something but um, he told me I couldn't do it. So I'm gonna be quiet. Yes, I said we have to give you the exclusive. I said we have to give you the exclusive and he's like, hold your horses, Justin. So I'm gonna go with you and we're not gonna say anything to that God being put under the fire here. Yeah, I'm being sold out here. Uh No. So I mean, Justin already mentioned like, uh Gordon Ramsey was one with Hell's Kitchen that we, we built a really cool experience around and that's a category that in gaming kitchen simulator type stuff is already immensely successful. The voice now is us going into reality TV and in like a music format which is awesome. Um I would definitely say that we have a lot more coming and uh even this summer itself, within the next few months, you're going to see some big announcements. Justin Ahmet. Thank you so much for joining the show. I look forward to how this plays out and congratulations on the launch.

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