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In general, people don’t realize that their attention and content is a strength and an asset. They do not know that they are participating in the attention economy every time they post on social media or like an influencer’s photo on instagram. The reason is probably that they don’t get any tangible reward for it. Web 3.0 enthusiasts have been thinking and talking about this problem for a while now. Is the current attention economy fair? Not really. Can it be changed? Yes, it is possible, and Internet 3.0 already offers solutions.
The many flaws of the attention economy
Currently, the main problem of the Internet is that it is centralized, which means that Web 2.0 is controlled by a limited number of huge technology companies called Big Tech. Companies like Apple, Meta (FacebookInstagram), Google, ICT Tac and Twitter create walled gardens – ecosystems that they fully guard. The owners of these ecosystems can modify the rules for users at their discretion and collect their data to monetize them with targeted advertisements. This Web 2.0 status quo is seen by many as problematic. When talking about the problems of Web 2.0 in terms of the attention economy, Web 3.0 evangelists generally mean the following:
Use of consumer data and content: Internet users used to believe that free search engines and social media were the product, but in today’s attention economy, more and more people are realizing that their data is the product. It’s a known fact that tech giants track and gather our data to sell to advertisers. Every time we post something on Facebook or Twitter, we produce valuable information that can be used by these companies to generate billions of dollars in revenue.
Karen Gregory, an academic from the City College of New York, once said, “Big data, like Soylent Green, is made up of people.” She referenced the dystopian American film, soy green, where people were secretly used to produce food from them for the society living on the brink of extinction due to a huge ecological disaster. The comparison may seem harsh, but in our capitalist world where inequality continues to grow, the fact that extremely rich and powerful companies use what users produce (i.e. data) to earn billions of dollars and not sharing them with others seems unfair to many. .
Additionally, social media platforms treat our content as their property. They can remove anything you post, no matter how much effort you put into that content. In fact, in today’s attention economy, no author can get the monetization they deserve because they only get paid for social media posts when there’s a sponsoring brand. Meanwhile, it’s creators who produce value, not tech companies. Social media platforms mean nothing without the content people would want to pay attention to, and it exists because there are users who do.
Data protection issues: The truth is that we almost never know how social media platforms process our data. What’s worse is that they often don’t protect it enough, resulting in user data leaks. For example, in 2021, hackers released the personal data of 533 million Facebook users online. And this is not the first time that Mark Zuckerberg’s company has let its users down in this way. In 2019, Facebook was fined to sell users’ personal information to the political consulting firm Cambridge Analyticaresponsible for Donald Trump’s election campaign that named him president.
Inability to pay for the content model: There’s this belief that if people don’t want their data appropriated by tech behemoths, they should pay for the content they’re used to getting for free. Unfortunately, this strategy is very likely not to work. First, your data may still be collected even if you pay. Second, we are currently experiencing a global economic crisis, which leaves many people with no choice in paying for content. Honestly, starting to get paid content without ads versus getting free content at the cost of seeing lots of ads seems like an outdated conversation these days.
The death of cookies: Cookies were once one of the key elements of the existing model of the attention economy and digital advertising. These are small pieces of data that are placed on a user’s computer when browsing a website. They may be essential for the operation of the site or for monitoring. These collect user data so that it can be used by advertisers.
However, recently Google announcement it would stop supporting these ad-tech cookies in its browser, Chrome, by the end of 2023. In March 2020, Apple claims that he has activated his Safari browser with the complete blocking of these cookies. But before that, Internet users were already familiar with cookies, and the idea of disabling them is gaining popularity. Thus, advertisers must look for new ways of interacting with the consumer anyway.
Metrics Fraud: The success of digital advertising used to be measured by views and interactions, because advertisers want their campaigns to be seen and clicked. Big tech companies, like Youtube and Twitter, tend to brag about how many people watch promotional posts on their platforms. It was a hot race.
Once, however, it turned out that views and interactions could be easily faked using malware, and sometimes the traffic only consists of bots, not human consumers. Of course, advertisers are not happy with this. Now they have even more reason to be very interested in finding alternatives to get their ads seen.
The intrusive nature of targeted advertising: It’s just irritating how targeted ads may interrupt our interactions with social media content. For example, they may appear randomly in the middle of a Youtube video or appear among the content we have chosen to follow on Instagram. This takes away the fun of consuming even high-quality content for users and devalues the effort creators put into their art.
How Web 3.0 Empowers Consumers
The attention economy needs improvements, and Web 3.0 is capable of making them happen. For the foreseeable future, this will dramatically change the interaction between consumers, advertisers, and social media platforms. Web 3.0 will empower the people. It may sound pompous, but it’s true.
How is it possible? First, Web 3.0 give users ownership of their data, so you can treat your data as if it belonged to you. Second, it will allow you to get paid for the work you do when you post and give likes on social media. Both options give you the opportunity to monetize the attention you give and receive. The nice thing about Web 3.0 is that it’s honest ownership. If a work of art can be an NFT with easily traceable ownership, so can your data. If you own your data, you can monetize it or offer it on your terms, knowing who will use it and how.
For example, there’s Permission, a tokenized web 3.0 advertising platform that connects brands to consumers, with the latter earning crypto rewards for their data and engagement. There is also Ocean Protocol, a market where data can be sold in the form of NFTs and data tokens. Data shot is another such platform. It offers consumers cash, rebates, and cryptocurrency in exchange for their personal data. Another example is Zedosh, an app that focuses on Gen Z and offers its users the option of getting paid to watch ads. There are many more such services out there, and soon people will be able to find the one and only offer that suits them best.
Therefore, these fundamental changes in the attention economy will lead to the new era of creator economy. In Web 3.0, artists, musicians and other content creators will no longer need to turn to brands or technology companies to sponsor their content as the only way to earn a reasonable income. silver, as they will be able to receive financial rewards directly from their fanbase through donations, merchandise sales, and subscriptions. What’s great is that this system is democratic and inclusive, as it allows even newcomers and niche creators to monetize their work. Having such alternatives will help artists be more selective in choosing which brands to collaborate with. Ultimately, this will lead influencers to produce more honest, high-quality advertising that will have more credibility with consumers.
Of course, it’s too early to predict exactly how Web 3.0 will change the advertising industry and the attention economy. However, it’s a promising opportunity for people who care about their data to rebalance the attention economy and get their fair share. It also changes the economics of creators in a way that benefits authors themselves as well as their fans and brands willing to collaborate with influencers.
However, participants in the new attention economy will face some challenges. For example, now that Web 3.0 opportunities are no longer available to everyone, they are still quite limited. There aren’t many platforms and services in Web 3.0 either. There will be more, but it’s hard to predict how fast this will progress. Anyway, the The Web 3.0 Creator Economy will eventually grow and attract more participants, and one day our children will earn money doing things that we now do for free. Every day they will choose whether they want to earn money by creating content or by consuming it.