There’s a huge issue on the internet we have today (Web2), and that’s security. Our information is being stored not only on centrally-managed servers, but also on mobile devices, laptops, personal computers, mobile devices, flash drives, and even our cars, TVs, and watches.
Blockchain networks, which some refer to as Web3, will revolutionize the way data is stored and bring back a sense of security online. While the frontend experience shouldn’t change too much, the backend will be revolutionized, as Blockchain networks provide a universal state layer that is collectively managed by all counterparts in the network. Meaning, true peer-to-peer interactions. Without the middleman.
Instead of a middleman, anyone can participate in verifying transactions and be compensated for their contribution with a network token. In this manner, we’re switching from a “platform economy,” where the middleman acts as a trusted intermediary between two parties who don’t know one another, to a “token economy,” where peer-to-peer interactions are executed on the fly and “smart contracts” are exchanged between parties. In what are being called “smart contracts”. Web3 participants will form majorities and determine the governance rules of the network.
And Web3 is becoming more prevalent. While the “launch date of Web3” is unknown, so to speak, over $27 billion was invested in crypto-related projects in 2021 (HubSpot). So the talk is definitely there, it’s just a matter of the tech rising up to meet it.
What Web3 Means for Marketing
1.) Potentially More Say In Your Data Sharing
Web2 platforms have benefited (i.e., profited) greatly from the centralization of data. Many Web2 companies have enabled targeted advertising on their networks based on user behavior and the commoditization of private data. Trillions of dollars have been made on the backs of users paying for a service by unknowingly sharing their private data.
In Web3, each node in a network can send and receive tokens, and the state of tokens. So each network can remember user interactions, resolving the “double spending” problem by providing a single source of reference for what can be received and when.
So, for instance, on YouTube, a decentralized YouTube means that you would need decentralized file storage to manage the video files. The most promising of these is IPFS. The decentralized YouTube would incentivize network nodes to share storage space with a native token, and turn cloud storage into algorithmic markets.
This means that, in essence, you could selectively choose how your data is used and who you share it with more readily.
2.) Content Creators, Not Networks, Will Reign Supreme
As it stands now, we’re in a Web 2.0 “platform economy,” where the middleman (i.e., YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Spotify, etc.) acts as a trusted intermediary. For instance, if someone creates a video and uploads it to YouTube, they receive a small fraction of the total revenue, and YouTube receives more from display advertising (and sometimes the selling of the viewers’ data).
As we switch to a “token economy,” peer-to-peer interactions reign supreme, so content creators would engage directly with their audiences. This allows for more autonomy of content creation – there won’t be strict guidelines as there are now for content, for example – and also the ability for higher earning potential, as content creators will theoretically also be publishers and owners of their Web 3.0 properties.
But content is not just blog posts or videos. “Content” now includes full-on experiences. Brands such as Timberland and BMW have launched virtual worlds. Other brands have begun to create experiences within the existing virtual worlds. For example, JP Morgan set up a virtual lounge within the Decentraland metaverse platform. In nearly all of these worlds, it’s set up to immerse the user in – you guessed it – high-quality branded content. Timberland describes its virtual world as a “vibrant tour of the brand’s history via a mix of storytelling, art, music, and characters.” The company declares, “(T)his is not a game; it’s a story.” The BMW virtual world is an education and thought leadership platform, creating an engaging way to learn about “electric mobility, urban mobility, and sustainability.” (ContentMarketingInstitute)
There is a lot of talk that the move from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 will first be a hybrid model, in which the middlemen we have become so familiar with still exist, but with increasingly more tech, and hence autonomy, security, and power, in the hands of the users. However, assuming we eventually move to a complete Web 3.0 model, it will be extremely important to shift focus from creating content designed for algorithms (such as using new features like Facebook Live, or utilizing hashtags properly on Instagram), and instead more crucial to build high-quality content so actual people will want to see your updates and receive your latest content. To that end, if content is king now, high-quality content will be The Benevolent Dictator in Web 3.0.
3.) Building Your Own Community Will Also Be Essential
In addition to high-quality content, having strong communities on Web 3.0 will be essential. It is in the best interest of marketers looking forward to realize they will need, at least in theory, to build their own following and communities outside of, say, Instagram or YouTube.
Marketers will need not to collect email addresses, but instead, to get ready to store and read the digital wallets of those who grant you access. This digital wallet is likely to store their name and email address, but also location, company name, phone number, and other personal information. For Web 3.0, it is likely this information will be frequently updated (if not instantly updated) by the user, and it may also be harder for them to opt in to grant access.
Web 3.0 is coming. I doubt many of the features listed above will be present in 2025, but by 2030, I would be surprised if we aren’t interacting with all of the above (and then some) on a daily basis.
For marketers to get ready, I recommend that enterprise-level companies start to develop their own immersive virtual worlds, like Timbaland or BMW, or I recommend that they start to create interactive centers within existing worlds, like JP Morgan.
For small businesses and influencers, I recommend spending more time away from using YouTube, Facebook, and other “middlemen” services as their primary source of traffic and revenue. Instead, I recommend building as much evergreen content as possible on your own website, and, more importantly, I also recommend building a list of followers away from these platforms by using your own website as much as possible as a source of lead collection. (In my own case, I am shifting 20% of time and resources from social media to focus on building my own community of email addresses on my website).
There is no doubt that the next era of the internet and the digital economy are in their infancy. That said, they’re here, and they’re only going to become more prevalent. The sooner your brand begins to prepare, if not experiment and connect with audiences in the virtual world, the better.