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Why Everyone Is Buying Pictures of Apes

Trends and Insight 28 Add to collection

Sam Down, client partner, dentsu X Australia, digs into NFTs

Why Everyone Is Buying Pictures of Apes

dentsu X has recently launched “Ahead 2022: The Return to Why” – a short exploration into the motivation and rationale behind some of the key societal and media topics of the moment. Little Black Book is diving into this content to unearth new views and insights from dentsu X experts from around the globe, continuing with a thought starter on NFTs out of Australia…

When you look at the psychology of investing for the masses, it is clear to see that the winning ticket mentality has been front and centre for many years. From Wolf of Wall Street investment firms promising huge profits for the average Joe, to young investors gambling their student loans on cryptocurrency with the view to paying off university debt, the get rich quick mentality of investing has always been present and remains so.

During the COVID-19 pandemic – fuelled by uncertainty of finances for many and combined with months of lockdown spent indulging in social media – it is easy to see how many have been tempted by TikTok guru’s touting huge returns in short timeframes, not dissimilar to the gold rush of the 1850’s. The motivation is clear – I do not want to miss out on my fortune. 

In the past two years we have seen a boom in crypto trading, with the marketplace estimated to be worth more than $1.9Tn USD and growing, showing that there is real potential for savvy investors. However, in 2021 a new gold rush came to town - NFT’s (non-fungible tokens), with the market increasing from a respectable $17m in transactions per month in January 2021 – to an eye-watering $2bn per month in December.  

NFT’s seem to make no sense to the average person – I like cool pictures of apes but why did someone pay $2.9m USD for an ape with laser vision? Well, it is not just the fact that you get access to an exclusive club with the likes of Post Malone, Mark Cuban and more, but mainly the fact that these are finite. And this exclusiveness brings us onto the next boom - Land. 

No, not buying a one-bedroom apartment in Bondi Beach – we are talking about the metaverse. 

Again, it is limited. Each platform only has a finite number of spots, like a sandbox with 166,000 plots of land. But how do these non-real, non-physical assets, that on the surface look to be driven by hype and speculation, actually make a return? 

Investment companies are buying land in the metaverse hedging that this will be a place where millions of people come together, just like Twitter or Bondi Beach. The first mainstream examples of this have happened already, with Justin Bieber performing recently, and Splendour XR hosted on Sansar gave Australia its first mainstream Metaverse Music Festival experience, at scale. Whilst events like these can leave a lot to be desired, as more get access to the hardware, this industry will take off, and the land that hosts the festival could generate huge profits in rent. With the VR Hardware becoming more accessible, this is fuelling these virtual experiences, and with that, landowners can begin to see returns on some sizeable investments. 

Landowners can also pick their neighbours, with some deciding to live next door to Snoop Dogg and his NFT Gallery in Sandbox. Consumers rooted in virtual experiences, see proximity to real world celebrity and influence as a key driving force behind purchasing intent – be it in the metaverse or not. As the prime real estate goes fast, scarcity will drive up prices meaning this could be the next gold rush for years to come. So, it is clear that with both Crypto and NFT’s, the motivations for the masses are largely around 3 key things, being early adopters, the fear of missing out, and making huge profits.

So why should you buy any of this? It could just be your lucky ticket.

To uncover more thought starters and to explore some of the other views within Ahead 2022: The Return to Why, visit and download the free whitepaper from

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dentsu X, Wed, 11 May 2022 07:27:18 GMT