There has been much debate of late of the huge influence that the tech oligarchs have over the economy, politics and the general fabric of society. Claims have been made that social media damages mental health. Google has been accused of a left wing bias. Russia has been accused of using Facebook to influence the United States Presidential election. At the beating heart of both Facebook and Google and their main source of revenue is one thing – advertising.
Google and Facebook are free at point of use as the sites users freely give away information about themselves which Google and Facebook then sell on to third parties by allowing targeted advertising. Advertisers are these tech giants customers and you, the user, are the product. Under the current model sites are incentivised to garner as much information as possible about the users and try to keep them on the platform for as long as possible. Alphabet, Googles parent company and Facebook are the third and fifth most valuable companies on the planet as a result of their ability to scale advertising in ways never seen before.
When Google first
started selling advertising space in 2000 it used the standard model
that had been used to price adverts for several generations. Humans
would sell slots based on the cost per thousand people who viewed the
advert. Google’s game changing innovation was the development of
AdWords a platform that automated the process of buying advertising
space and turn the process into an auction. In 2002 AdWords generated
$400 million US dollars of revenue for the firm. By 2017 that figure
had risen to $95 billion. Facebook in 2017 generated close to $40
billion US dollars from their advertising platform.
When generating such substantial revenues from their advertising models it is unlikely that Google or Facebook would want to rock the boat. But new and innovative technologies to allow people to take back ownership of their digital identity and share in the revenues generated with users. The next generation of web services is going to be much more closely aligned with the user than the current generations.
Adverts as we know them have been a part of societies cultural fabric for well over 100 years but technology has a way of disrupting the old ways and replacing them very quickly. The advent of web 3.0 and ever increasing adoption of cryptocurrencies offers users a way of monetising their online presence and enhancing their privacy should they wish. It will bring with it a plethora of new products and services. In the same way that the internet wouldn’t exist without the personal computer and instagram would not exist without the mobile phone the new wave of innovations that will be ushered in by crypto and web 3.0 will transform the internet and threaten the very core of Facebook and Google’s value proposition.
allows innovation on a scale never before seen on the internet.
Blockchain platforms are generally open source and have created a
design space allowing people to build upon their underlying
infrastructure. Crowdfunding and collaboration by teams of developers
building on these networks will bring with them a more sincere user
focused experience. The transparency of these projects will provide
trust in the services a quality that both Google and Facebook seem to
be having a hard time maintaining.
The adoption of blockchain technology is in many ways analogous to the open software ideology of the 1970s where developers built on open networks with standards and protocols they could trust. Blockchain by default has these qualities built in. The decentralized and distributed technology that will underpin web 3.0 is likely to be built by collaboration and cooperation rather than on the back of advertising revenue.
Advertising has established itself as the primary economic driver of the internet. With the advent of crypto based micropayments becoming possible the advertising based business model is likely to be superseded by a system that does not extract as much personal data, is not based on proprietary software. There are multiple competing visions of how web 3.0 is going to play out but blockchain does encourage more open systems with higher degrees of interoperability.
The Brave browser has received an all round good reception since its launch in June. It blocks advertising and tracking cookies by default. It also supports its own crypto-currency, the basic attention token (BAT). You can use these tokens to reward websites you visit with a monthly payment in tokens based on the amount of time you have spent on their site and your monthly BAT spend. You can choose to top up your browser at anytime with BAT tokens and there are plans in the future for you to be able to earn tokens by allowing certain non tracking adverts from Brave partners.
Brave has reportedly signed a deal with a major internet player (suspected to be wordpress) to integrate their token based system into wordpress websites that have over 80 million views daily.
Basic Attention Tokens were trading at $0.31 on Binance at the time of writing.