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Why inflation – not the crypto crash – will define Bitcoin

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Why inflation – not the crypto crash – will define Bitcoin

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Crypto is down. Badly. Bitcoin is at its lowest price in 18 months and the resulting headlines are dramatic. And yet, in the face of the crypto crash, not all hope is lost. Despite Bitcoin’s falling value, it remains to be seen just how the wider economic landscape impacts the coin’s long-term adoption.

Why? Because Bitcoin use cases are actually growing under the backdrop of global inflation. Beyond valuation, Bitcoin is finding new utility in this moment of market madness. Crypto’s biggest and oldest coin is showing promise on several fronts – from governments exploring it in international trade to investors searching for a digital store of value. Let’s look at why inflation – and not the crypto market crash – will define Bitcoin for the years to come.

Bitcoin as a store of value

With inflation rising to 8% in the United States, investors are desperate for a store of value –  an asset that can maintain its worth over time without depreciating. In the past, gold has been the tried and tested inflation hedge bet. This time around, $10 billion has been pulled from gold funds as investors increasingly turn to a newer alternative: Bitcoin.

And why not? Like gold, Bitcoin is rare and counts a finite supply. Citing Bitcoin’s $700 billion market capitalization, compared to the around $2.6 trillion worth of gold owned as an investment, Goldman Sachs said in January that the cryptocurrency currently has a 20% share of the store of value market.

It’s important to note that further market maturity is required before Bitcoin is fully embraced as a store of value. A mature market counts long-term investors who can afford to weather price drops. Likewise, a mature market like gold relies on common frameworks, metrics and classifications across market participants. This year’s cryptocurrency volatility doesn’t reflect a mature market – yet.

Despite the coin’s rising correlation to the Nasdaq and other risk assets, Bitcoin is still a mechanically deflationary currency that is designed to hold its value in the long term. Just like the internet bubble at the turn of the century, today’s wild intraday peaks and troughs can be somewhat attributed to the hype and financialization of a revolutionary trend in its early days.

As digital assets are more widely embraced, expect to see institutional investors and crypto-specific funds act as stabilizing forces in the market. This will deliver much-needed maturity and potentially more buyers who see Bitcoin as a store of value.

Bitcoin in international trade and settlement

Speed, efficiency, risk: there are multiple reasons why cross-border digital payment is also being explored during these times of high inflation. For example, The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) recently developed prototypes for a common digital currencies platform. Codenamed “Project Dunbar,” the development proves that financial institutions could use central bank digital currencies to transact directly with one another on a shared platform. The issue for banks, however, is that realizing such a project remains years away.

Earlier this year, The World Economic Forum outlined the benefits of digital currencies in global trade. They include speed – bringing the payment settlement time from days to minutes – as well as alternative credit – using a public blockchain ledger to share financial history and underwrite loans for import and export. Since it is by far the most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is well-positioned to spearhead the introduction of digital monies into the financial ecosystem.

We are already starting to see this happen. Following this year’s sanctions from the international community, Russia was considering accepting Bitcoin as payment for its oil and gas exports from “friendly” countries. Despite the country’s evident desperation to circumvent sanctions, the move would set a precedent in international trade and, again, lead to further adoption of Bitcoin. This effort to “de-dollarize” trade could also see Bitcoin’s volatility start to ease as more such trades are made in the digital currency.

Bitcoin in developing economies

Unfortunately, the majority of the world shares in today’s economic pain. Inflation is eroding the purchasing power of currencies beyond the dollar and this is having an especially hard impact on developing countries. From the Turkish lira to the Nigerian naira, inflation is punishing local currencies in the throes of post-pandemic recovery. Here, economic uncertainty and instability are leading to more Bitcoin adoption.

In Turkey, its national currency unraveled against the dollar in the last quarter of 2021. As a result, cryptocurrency trading volumes using the lira leaped to an average of $1.8 billion a day across three exchanges. In Nigeria, meanwhile, a similar story of currency devaluations and tight access controls to foreign currencies led to more Bitcoin. Likewise in Russia. 

Increasingly, Bitcoin is emerging as more than a store of value to people – it’s a protection from hyperinflation. It remains to be seen where this will go. With growth, there could be community pushes that lead to more country-wide cryptocurrency adoptions like in El Salvador.

Whatever happens next, it’s clear that the conversations and perspectives around Bitcoin are evolving with inflation. Whether it’s investors experimenting with crypto as a store of value, international banks and governments leveraging it in trade, or populations trying to protect their purchasing power, we are entering a new phase of adoption. 

Somewhat fortuitously, increased adoption is occurring at the same time as increased scalability. For years, Bitcoin has been held back by its comparatively long transaction times. Recently, however, scalability has become less of a hurdle thanks to developments like The Lightning Network and its fast transactions among participating nodes. This is key if Bitcoin is to take the position of functional money in international trade and societal currency. Watch this space.

Chen Li is CEO and founder of digital asset VC at Youbi Capital.

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‘She-Hulk’ Release Schedule: When Does Episode 9 Hit Disney Plus?

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‘She-Hulk’ Release Schedule: When Does Episode 9 Hit Disney Plus?

The current Marvel series dropping weekly episodes on Disney Plus is almost over. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a half-hour scripted comedy about Jennifer Walters (played by the incredible Tatiana Maslany), the Hulk’s equally green cousin.

The first season consists of nine episodes. Six are directed by Kat Coiro and the other three by Anu Valia, with Jessica Gao as head writer. Originally, She-Hulk was set to take over Ms. Marvel’s Wednesday release spot, but the episodes instead arrive each Thursday (probably because Star Wars series Andor took over the Wednesday slot).

Exact She-Hulk episode release dates and times

Here are the exact episode release times.

The first smashing trailer

After a teaser that well and truly teased us (by not showing She-Hulk’s face), Marvel dropped the first official trailer on May 17. This time we see what She-Hulk will look like in her awesome green glory.

She-Hulk also stars Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Wong and Tim Roth, who starred as the main antagonist in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Jameela Jamil, Jon Bass and Renée Elise Goldsberry are also part of the cast.

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First Super Mario Bros. Trailer Is Here: You Can Finally Hear Chris Pratt

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First Super Mario Bros. Trailer Is Here: You Can Finally Hear Chris Pratt

It’s-a him. Chris Pratt as Mario in the movie. OK, so co-producer Chris Meledandri confirmed back in 2021 that Pratt wasn’t going to use the stereotyped voice of the video game plumber in the upcoming animated Mario film. But on Thursday, Nintendo dropped a highly anticipated teaser trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and Pratt revealed, kind of, the voice he did choose.

Honestly, the much-anticipated Pratt-as-Mario voice was kind of a letdown. There’s … maybe a faint bit of Italian accent in the few lines Pratt speaks? Or is he just using his normal voice? Pratt’s Mario mostly just reacts to getting the wind knocked out of him as he heads off on his Mushroom Kingdom adventure. 

Sure, there was no way Pratt was going to use the exaggerated, stereotypical voice, but so little of him can actually be heard in the teaser it’s tough to say how his Mario will sound. He doesn’t deliver any of Mario’s famed catchphrases — no “It’s-a me, Mario” or “Wahoo!” Maybe more will be revealed when a longer trailer comes along. Regardless, there’s a better chance to hear some of Jack Black’s Bowser (he’s excellent) and a good look at the vibrant animation.

It’s-a disappointing

Fans were underwhelmed by Pratt’s voice, or at least what we got to hear of it.

“Everything in the Mario movie trailer looks and sounds absolutely great…except for Chris Pratt’s voice lol,” one viewer tweeted.

Pratt reminded one viewer of Ratso Rizzo in 1969’s Midnight Cowboy. “It was like four words, but I definitely got Dustin Hoffman ‘I’m WALKIN HEAH!’ vibes.”

And another person summed it up nicely, writing, “It’s not similar to Mario. It’s not similar to Mario’s vibe. It’s not even similar to the live action movie version. Just Chris Pratt sounding a little confused.”

everything in the Mario movie trailer looks and sounds absolutely great…except for Chris Pratt’s voice lol

— Matt Binder (@MattBinder) October 6, 2022

It was like four words, but I definitely got Dustin Hoffman “I’m WALKIN HEAH!” vibes.

— Evil Bilbo (@evilbilboxbl) October 6, 2022

It’s not similar to Mario. It’s not similar to Mario’s vibe. It’s not even similar to the live action movie version. Just Chris Pratt sounding a little confused

— JStack (@JStackTV) October 6, 2022

“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to be Mario,” Pratt says in a video clip preceding the trailer, relating how he played Mario games on a machine at his childhood laundromat. Good to know, but the jury is still out on how that dream will become a reality. 

And after the trailer was published, Pratt tweeted about it, writing, “After playing the games for years as a kid (and adult) I’m excited to bring Mario to all of you! Enjoy!”

The trailer did reveal Jack Black as Bowser, and Keegan-Michael Key as Toad. But some fans were disappointed that the clip didn’t include a clip of Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, especially the actor’s infamous laugh.

“My only complaint is that we didn’t get to see Seth Rogen’s Donkey Kong voice let alone SOME form of laughter,” one fan wrote.

The Mario movie was set to come out in late 2022 but is now scheduled for release on April 7, 2023. 

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How marketers are tailoring data-driven creative to engage audiences on CTV

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How marketers are tailoring data-driven creative to engage audiences on CTV

As the end of the year approaches and marketing teams look to finalize their 2023 budgets, many are wondering how to ensure their ads are set up for success in the months ahead, appealing to unique audiences whose media consumption habits continue to evolve. 

Advances in programmatic technology and data targeting have made it possible to reach these audiences with precision and at scale, serving ads that showcase the products and services they’re most interested in — be it on their desktop, mobile or CTV devices. But something the industry doesn’t always discuss during the campaign planning process is how creative contributes to campaign goals and directly impacts consumers. 

Nielsen found that creative is the top driver of a brand’s in-market success — up to 80% in traditional TV and 89% in digital advertising. And there are ways to ensure that creative speaks not only to viewers’ collective interests but to their nuanced interests as individuals in a non-invasive, privacy-conscious way. Using existing creative — in other words, not reinventing the wheel — marketers are taking steps to boost engagement, enhance brand awareness and achieve personalization on a greater and increasingly sophisticated level. 

Making video ads actionable

Actionable creative encourages viewers to engage and interact with brands on a one-to-one level. For marketing teams, QR codes are proving an effective way to elevate this engagement, especially in the advanced TV space. For video ads produced without a QR code, these can be added as an overlay, branded frame around the video or an end card.

In essence, QR codes mirror the strategies of clickable ads in desktop or mobile environments, pushing consumers to take action and moving them through the marketing funnel (i.e., “scan to add to cart”). Not every viewer will scan the code, but even an incremental uptick in engagement is a powerful one. QR codes are an opportunity to place a brand in the palm of a consumer’s hand.

Given the proliferation of smart speakers and voice assistants (estimated to be present in approximately 95 million US households), voice-to-action commands are another way advertisers are motivating viewers to act while watching ads. By suggesting that viewers “Ask Alexa to do X” — via branded frames or end cards, for instance — marketers empower consumers to purchase a product, book a test drive and more. 

Keep branding front and center

It’s one thing to serve impressions; it’s another for a brand to make an impression that drives campaign results. And without robust and well-placed branding, it’s near impossible to ensure viewers will remember a brand. 

Video ads are increasingly cinematic, which, while entertaining, doesn’t automatically ensure the successful delivery of marketing goals and KPIs. If a viewer isn’t paying full attention to an ad for the full 15 to 30 seconds, they might entirely miss what the brand is, thus limiting brand recognition and recall. 

When crafting creative (for CTV or otherwise) — even a more out-of-the-box, entertaining ad — successful marketing teams often place a small logo in the corner of the screen. The effect can somewhat interrupt the cinematic tone of the ad, but it ensures that consumers know which brand is speaking to them.  

Developing dynamic creative to fine-tune targeting

Different audiences have different needs and therefore benefit from seeing different versions of a message. Not every brand has the budget to adapt its creative to every audience and screen, but many have found cost-effective ways to do this. One technique is dynamic video creative, in which one video is modified to become more personalized to each individual in a target audience, depending on the campaign strategy.

For example, historically, a local tourism board running a summer road trip campaign promoting travel to various destinations and attractions across a state has created a traditional TV spot to show off these destinations. However, if the tourism board wants to reach viewers on a more intimate — but also more programmatic — level, then dynamic video creative and data can turn the ad creative into thousands of iterations for all screens. In this way, they reach viewers with messages molded to their interests, needs and physical locations. The outcome is that adventure enthusiasts learn about destinations for mountain biking, and families with small children are shown amusement parks within driving distance, for instance.

These practices help marketers drive awareness, engagement and action at little to no added expense, ultimately ensuring a brand speaks to audiences in the most powerful, most convincing way. Creative may be king, but these simple techniques are the kingmakers; coupled with data and technology, they’re more achievable than ever. 

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