These are the building blocks to a brave new world and a next-gen digital economy known as Web3 – a decentralized and democratized version of the Internet which would empower individual users by taking power away from large corporations like Google and Meta. (Web1 was static websites and Web2 was user-generated content and social media.)
The blockchain makes Web3 possible and allows for cryptocurrency – a digital currency that does not rely on any central authority. Instead, transactions are stored in a digital ledger called a blockchain.
The most recent craze sprouting off the blockchain are NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. This allows consumers to buy, collect and sell art and other unique virtual assets across gaming, fashion and entertainment. These live on the blockchain, which ensures authenticity and tracks ownership of the digital files.
Technology and art have always evolved together. In 1826, the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce made the first permanent photograph. In 1936, Walt Disney created an animation process that led to the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the next year. And in 2021, NFTs exploded onto the art scene.
Once niche, NFTs have gone mainstream. In March, an NFT by digital artist Beeple sold for $69 million at the auction house Christie’s – the biggest NFT sale to date – and celebrities like Paris Hilton and Jimmy Fallon have flaunted their membership in the Bored Ape Yacht Club, an exclusive collection with some of the rarest and most valuable NFTs.
The economic downturn in 2022 not only impacted jobs and the economy, but cryptocurrencies and NFT prices also dropped significantly. Bitcoin, which reached a record high of $68,000 in November of 2021, is currently below $20,000; while sales of NFTs totalled just over $1 billion in June, compared with peak of $12.6 billion in January.
But critics have long promised the demise of crypto – many investors remain bullish, and they're playing the long game. After all, the NFT market is projected to reach $231 billion by 2030 and some experts predict it is a matter of when, not if, Bitcoin reaches $100,000.
Similarly, another component of the next-gen creator economy is going strong – the Metaverse. The vision for the Metaverse is a hyper-real virtual world for social connection. McKinsey released a report in June projecting the Metaverse could reach $30 trillion in value by 2030. This will be the future for content creators and influencers as well as brands looking to market to consumers.
Is the next-gen digital economy the future or just a fad? Mystic.com conducted a study to see which Americans are most interested in the nex-gen digital economy by analyzing Google Trends search volume around four terms: crypto, Web3, metaverse and NFTs in every state and Washington, D.C.
While the emerging industry transcends traditional borders and boundaries, the analysis indicates some parts of the country are more on board with the digital revolution in asset management than others.
Here’s what we found:
- Residents of Washington, D.C., are Most Into the Next-Gen Digital Economy, with an average search score of 92.5 due to high interest across all four metrics, particularly Web3 and the metaverse. California came in No. 2 with an overall score of 87.3, despite Golden State residents reporting the highest levels of interest in NFTs and crypto in the U.S.
- Meanwhile, West Virginia is the least interested state, with an average search score of 34.8 across the four metrics. The Mountain State was dragged down by its low level of interest in Web3, middle-of-the-road search volume for crypto, NFTs and the metaverse.
Top and Bottom States
Washington, D.C., isn’t exactly known as the country’s cultural, tech or finance capital, but its residents are the most into the next-gen digital economy. Its overall score of 92.5 was driven by search scores of 100 for Web3 and the metaverse and high levels of interest in crypto and NFT. Whether it’s because Washingtonians are cashing in or keeping tabs on the regulatory landscape, they’re all in.
Meanwhile, California had search scores of 100 for both NFT and crypto, but residents were less interested in Web3 and the metaverse, dropping the state to No. 2 in the overall ranking. New York, which hosts a major NFT conference every year, ranks No. 3 overall, with Nevada and New Jersey rounding out the top five states.
The results also show that the industry is making the most headway in cities: Among all metro areas, Miami was No. 2 in the country on searches for crypto and the metaverse, despite Florida ranking No. 7 overall. And while Alaska ranked 22nd overall, the capital city of Juneau was the No. 5 metro area for crypto searches.
|State||Rank||Average search score|
On the other end of the spectrum, West Virginia is the least interested state, while Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and Iowa fill out the bottom five overall – suggesting future-of-internet enthusiasts have some work to do if they want to bring all Americans along.
Those states’ lowest search volumes were for Web3, though they all landed among the bottom states for crypto, NFT and metaverse as well. Only one state didn’t have enough search interest for Web3 to warrant a score: Wyoming, which ranked No. 44 overall due to residents’ interest in NFT and crypto.
Some Elements of the Next-Gen Digital Economy Are More Popular Than Others
Nationwide search interest in each part of the next-gen economy came and went in waves in 2022. Crypto is consistently the most-searched term among the four metrics in the analysis, with boosts in January, March, May and June – underscoring the consistently high public interest, despite constant speculation that the decentralized currencies are past their prime. California led the pack for crypto searches, while Mississippi had the lowest score at 41.
Meanwhile, the minimum search score for NFT was 40 (Alabama), meaning people in every state have been at least somewhat interested in NFTs throughout the year. When it came to the metaverse, D.C. residents and New Yorkers were most on board (100 and 84) and those in South Dakota and Iowa were playing catch-up (34 and 40).
Throughout the year, search volume for Web3 was lower than any of the other three metrics. Across the U.S., Web3 interest peaked in February, though it’s fluctuated quite a bit, suggesting the true Web3 boom is yet to come.
Mystic.com used Google Trends data to identify where four search terms for the emerging industry – "NFT," “crypto,” “Web3” and “metaverse” – were most popular from Jan. 1-Sept. 3, 2022. The links included in these terms continually update so may change depending on when they are viewed. Those terms were chosen over “non-fungible token,” “Web 3” and “cryptocurrency” to reflect the higher search volume.
To measure relative interest across the country, Google assigns a score ranging from 0 to 100 per state for each search term. The state where searches for a particular term make up the greatest proportion of total searches in that state is assigned a score of 100, while a state where the search term is half as popular gets a 50 and so on. A score of 0 indicates insufficient search data for that term in that state; Wyoming earned a 0 for Web3 in this analysis.
To determine the overall scores and rankings, Mystic.com averaged state scores across the four search terms.