Consumer engagement has gone digital. The global pandemic made that clear for many brands. After a year of lockdown, when customers turned to online shopping, entertainment, and video games to socialize, physical goods and digital experiences blended together to create a phygital reality. A new media company called The ARIA Network is about to launch, and they are seeking to disrupt the current media ecosystem by using emerging technology to implement a phygital model.
We got an exclusive interview with Darren Mann, Co-CEO of The ARIA Network. The ARIA Network turns any physical space into a potential virtual access point for digital merchandise, NFTs and exclusive augmented reality moments which consumers can bring to life with their phones. Their disruptive proposition is for the brands and companies eager to take advantage of experience-first branding instead of just traditional advertising.
What is the ARIA Network?
Darren Mann: The ARIA Network is an integrated media network bringing billions of physical and digital assets to life through advanced image recognition, augmented reality (AR), 360° immersive experiences, and revolutionary NFTs.
ARIA is a fan engagement partner of the National Basketball Retired Players Association, the NHL Alumni Association, and Major League Baseball Players Alumni. ARIA is also the exclusive AR/VR partner of Brookfield Properties responsible for bringing to life all the common areas across more than 100 malls in the U.S. I believe ARIA is certain to disrupt the current media ecosystem with a new phygital model that brings fans closer to their idols from any location.
ARIA wants to change the game for media, marketing and advertising. How so?
DM: The ARIA Network not only changes the game, it creates a new game. It’s a new way for brands and celebrities to engage consumers leveraging billions of existing assets around the world as gateways into their lives. Consumers only need their phones to access limitless new worlds, the hottest merchandise, one-of-kind NFTs, exclusive moments, and many other interactive features, such as digital treasure hunts, virtual hangouts and so much more. Any physical space is now a candidate for a virtual experience and can be brought to life simply using a phone’s native camera.
What is ARIA’s why?
DM: Advertising is a trillion-dollar business at a standstill. Consumers demand more experience and less ads. As we emerge from the confinement of COVID over the past 15 months, consumers have become accustomed to leveraging digital in place of physical. We see the phone camera as a the entry portal into these new shoppable experiences and we’re leveraging emerging technologies to create a new ecosystem of opportunities for brands to connect with consumers that will be less intrusive than regular ads.
What is ARIA doing to stand out from the competition?
DM: With the new ARIA Exchange, The ARIA Network sets a new standard, delivering todays’ highest quality, fastest, most sustainable, secure and transparent NFT solution. Further, ARIA’s “living NFTs” represent a truly unique opportunity to forge a relationship with NFT purchasers by expanding value over time with the addition of unique and updated content.
You mentioned that the ARIA Exchange is environmentally sustainable. Can you share more about this?
DM: Committed to reducing impact on the planet, the ARIA Exchange is an innovative NFT trading platform that leverages Hedera’s Hashgraph to deliver more than 10,000 transactions per second as compared to Ethereum’s 12 transactions per second with much shorter user wait times and a fractional carbon footprint.
The ARIA Exchange accepts many forms of payment including fiat currency (money in your bank) which is more accessible and uses far less energy. With speed and currency flexibility as the basis for a much reduced carbon footprint to begin with, ARIA then also tracks and calculates the carbon footprint of each NFT from minting to purchase in partnership with Carbon Analytics. Additionally, we partner with Moss.Earth to reinvest carbon deposits exceeding CO2 emitted, rendering all transactions carbon-negative.
In your view, what are the 3 most important things brands should know about your company?
- It’s unique. There is no other company that delivers higher quality digital experiences and collectibles with integration across multiple touchpoints.
- It brings together best-in-class technology, creatives and talent in immersive worlds.
- It’s fully integrated to deliver experiences in any place, at any time, and for any purpose, leveraging first party data, deep analytics, and doubling consumer engagement with higher consumer memory retention and ROI relative to both traditional digital and social media advertising platforms.
What can you tell me about your team at ARIA?
DM: I co-founded ARIA with my Co-CEO, Rebecca Jonah, two years ago. When she and I came together we saw the future of digital engagement evolving faster than most organizations were able to embrace it.
In order to create a fully integrated new media platform from experience to commerce to trading, we knew we needed to have the best of the best on our team and that’s exactly what we set out to do. Our team includes true domain experts like Nadine Dietz, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, former Chief Community Officer of Adweek, Evan Greene, Chief Business Officer, former CMO of The Recording Academy (GRAMMYs), and Barry Sandrew, Chief Technology Officer, AR/VR expert, serial entrepreneur, digital imaging expert and visual effects (VFX) pioneer with more than 33 patents and decades of feature film and TV accomplishments, invented digital colorization and 2D-to-3D conversion of feature films. We will also be bringing in some new key hires in the next months that will continue to elevate our team’s domain expertise and benefit our customers and partners.
What is the current vision and what is the future vision of the company?
DM: The current vision is to move full steam ahead building truly immersive AR experiences and best-in-class NFTs. The future will build on those anchors, bringing all of our market advantages together under The ARIA Network, to include fans, celebrities, athletes, brands and arenas, in a soon-to-be new phygital normal.
Toward A New Form Of Brand Engagement
The pre-series A company has already raised close to $14 million and seems to be poised for hypergrowth. Mann also shared that the ARIA Exchange will be announcing substantial partnerships in the next few weeks, as they pioneer new ways for brands to engage with consumers.
As the new normal emerges, it will require a phygital approach to service consumers in new ways that meet their always-on expectations and deliver advanced experiences, both physically and digitally. The time is now for a new way to reach fans and for fans to reach brands, celebrities and athletes.