EXCLUSIVE | Yasin Dabhelia, Bidstack: A new digital life

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Yasin Dabhelia, Director, Global Demand Partnerships and Agency Sales, Bidstack, is an experienced digital and cross-media advertising professional with high proficiency in online media, programmatic advertising, sales, management, business development, and relationship building.

In this exclusive piece for MediaBrief, Yasin writes about how 2020 saw everyone seamlessly welcome the digital way of life as also innovations in the gaming world, and how the borders between our virtual and actual environments continue to become blurred with the advancement of Augmented reality. And  looks forward to ‘an equal digital society’. And more.

The way people work, learn, play, exercise and socialise will continue to shift in 2021, into what is being called the Metaverse. A collective virtual space where everyone is equally invited to interact with millions of digital environments. Whether it’s to compete against your friends in a Battle Royale or meet strangers at a virtual yoga retreat, we will be more connected than ever.

I know what you’re thinking, it seems like an idea born out of a science fiction novel or a farfetched dystopian world but in reality, we have already welcomed a new digital life into our lives so seamlessly. The trading of digital currencies like Bitcoin, cycling in a virtual world on Zwift and using Drest to try on new designer clothing without leaving your bed are prime examples of how we are currently in a state of digital transformation.

Our shared struggle has brought the world closer together, and in this case using gaming as a place of escapism from a dull reality, cementing its foundation as a social platform where we can interact and challenge friends and strangers from anywhere in the world: Yasin Dabhelia 

Coincidentally, I’m writing this article exactly a year after the UK was told to ‘stay home’, making it an even more important time to reflect on the past year. In 2020, the pandemic required us to change our habits and behaviours to one that brought people online more than ever; not only have we adapted to new working practises such as Zoom meetings and Slack conversations, but we are also celebrating cultural milestones like weddings and graduations in games like Animal Crossing.

Our shared struggle has brought the world closer together, and in this case using gaming as a place of escapism from a dull reality, cementing its foundation as a social platform where we can interact and challenge friends and strangers from anywhere in the world.

In 2019, Facebook announced Horizon, a virtual reality universe where users can play, socialise and build their own space within what seems like a ‘Ready Player One’ Oasis. This isn’t the first step in the gamification of social media, this is an example of how the biggest social platform in the world is adopting gaming to keep engaging its 2.8 billion monthly active users.

They are not alone, Google, Amazon and Apple are all investing in this space making small but significant steps to keep people locked into their own digital ecosystems. But the metaverse cannot function within Walled Gardens, and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has never shied away from being critical of the big 4.

Tim Sweeney is at the forefront of the Metaverse, he fundamentally believes that developers are building upon the foundations of what we already know to accommodate the Metaverse and eventually you will be able to cross from Call of Duty to your 10 am meeting in one reality.

The borders between our virtual and actual reality continues to become blurred, so much so we’re now using augmented reality to make important decisions in surgery, revolutionising the healthcare industry: Yasin Dabhelia

Fortnite is a prime example of where we are heading; it’s an anchor for social, music, film and gaming attracting nearly 30m players to events such as Travis Scott’s Astronomical concert event and Warner Bro’s live streaming of Tenet, proving how record labels and film studios have adopted this new norm and generating huge successes.

From these learnings it’s no surprise the gaming industry is predicted to be worth more than $200bn USD with nearly 3bn players worldwide, outstripping both the music and film industries combined. Pokémon GO developer Niantic reported its best year yet after generating $1bn in 2020 alone, showing the continued success of the real/virtual world crossover originally released in 2016.

The borders between our virtual and actual reality continues to become blurred, so much so we’re now using augmented reality to make important decisions in surgery, revolutionising the healthcare industry.

In 2021 we will continue to see people enrich their lives through gaming whether it’s to enhance their skills, education, or to socialise with their friends. Developments in connectivity such as 5G will continue to accelerate gaming platforms allowing users to access virtual worlds across any device and technological advancements from the likes of Bidstack will help enable brands to access gamers, whilst also being able to share insights into the effectiveness of in-game brand activation.

The next stage is to push the boundaries of creativity; gaming environments are an artform and brands have every opportunity to enhance them, whilst encapsulating audiences with unparalleled engagement levels. Powerful brand affinity is built when brands can offer value to their passion points: Yasin Dabhelia

This is a space for everyone and even so for brands looking to establish their identity within an ever-growing Metaverse. At the start of the pandemic, advertising came to a halt as media consumption shifted, but slowly and surely advertising spend has started to adjust to the new digital world.

The next stage is to push the boundaries of creativity; gaming environments are an artform and brands have every opportunity to enhance them, whilst encapsulating audiences with unparalleled engagement levels. Powerful brand affinity is built when brands can offer value to their passion points. Louis Vuitton’s capsule collection in collaboration with League of Legends and Balenciaga’s gamified presentation of their Fall 21 collection are just two examples of how luxury brands that never typically spoke to gamers, are now synonymous with gaming audiences.

I personally think it’s beautiful to imagine a world that brings all types of people together from all walks of life into an equal digital society. The dawn of a new era within gaming is here and brands and users alike should embrace its ever-growing livelihood.

And of course, the PlayStation 5 will continue to be sold out and out of my reach.