The web is changing. Users expect privacy. Crypto, blockchain and decentralized apps mean they can skip Big Tech altogether. And they’re leaving in droves. Add it all up and you’ve got a perfect storm for advertisers: The data pipeline is drying up, ad costs are rising and ROI is dropping.
But smart advertisers aren’t scared; they’re embracing this new Web3 world, connecting with new audiences on their terms. They’re diversifying ad spend and embracing the call of a user-first web.
The status quo: web 2.0
But before we get to the promise of Web3, let’s consider web 2.0. What’s web 2.0? It’s the internet as you know it. It’s Amazon, Facebook, Google, YouTube … basically any app or site you can post to, publish from or log in to. Useful apps that are dominated by Big Tech, sucking up your data.
To be fair, it’s not like Big Tech is stealing. In today’s internet, users “freely” give up their data (“freely” in quotes, because nobody actually reads 10 pages of legalese before clicking “yes”). These platforms have billions of users providing almost unlimited data, on everything from what you search for, click on, like and more. To make money, tech companies collect your data, package it into targeted ad space and earn huge profits in the process.
Data collection—and abuse—is basically built into the core of how web 2.0 operates. Apps need money and they get it by monetizing your data. In web 2.0, you are the product.
The shifting digital ad landscape
But this model is changing. Fast. More and more people are showing they care about data privacy and doing something about it. They’re leaving platforms like Facebook, getting smarter in their use of ad blockers and VPNs and turning to new models like Web3 (more on that in a moment). And governments are passing privacy and antitrust laws like Europe’s GDPR and California’s CCPA to help people protect their data.
For advertisers, this presents a problem: Users want privacy, governments are regulating it and Big Tech is dragging its heels. As people leave these tech platforms, ad inventory goes down, ad prices go up and ROI on ad spend dips down-and-to-the-right. But Big Tech still boasts billions of users.
What to do?
The promise of Web3
Fear not. Web3 is a new model for the web, and it’s bringing real opportunities for users and advertisers.
Just like the old days, Web3 still has sites and apps. But instead of being controlled by Big Tech, these sites and apps live … everywhere. The infrastructure of Web3 is distributed all over the world, without central authority. It’s decentralized and supported by new tech like blockchain and cryptocurrency.
But the “why” of Web3 is even more important than the “how.” Web3 aims to put people before corporations. It’s user-first, democratized and lets people control their own data. Web3 still has advertising, but it’s based on trust and consent. With Web3, users can make their own choices about tracking, cookies and how they want their data used.
And Web3 users are savvy. They use ad blockers and VPNs, and they don’t watch network TV. They’re at the vanguard of a change that’ll soon affect the whole ad industry.
Advertising in the privacy-focused future
Now not all users (or even most) have switched to Web3. We’re living in a hybrid world—a “web 2.5” world—where web 2.0 still dominates.
But each day it’s getting less viable to rely solely on tech giants for audience reach and ROI. The brands that survive will focus on community-building, direct engagement, surveys and zero-party data sources. They’ll find new ad platforms (ones that respect user privacy) to augment their ad spend.
Brave is such a platform. Brave is a privacy-first web browser with more than 60 million users worldwide. Among its many features, it offers an ethical ad model to reach the privacy-conscious audiences of Web3. With Brave Private Ads, brands can reach tech savvy audiences, and users can earn a cut of ad revenue. These ad units are unobtrusive and don’t depend on user data to run. And most important, they’re delivered right in the Brave privacy browser, a platform with an otherwise unreachable audience. Because of this, they see a far higher CTR (6% on average across all ad units, with some units even higher).
As the shift to Web3 gains steam, brands will have to adapt—to understand users' privacy concerns and interact with them on their terms. The successful brands will try Web3 as a complement to Web 2.0 ads. And they’ll be ahead of the curve.