Web3 is a lot like love: We’ve all heard of it, maybe even experienced it, but we still have a hard time describing what exactly it is. Even still, you might know more about Web3 than you think. Cryptocurrency and NFTs are both Web3 technologies, and the metaverse will likely have its own part to play in this next-gen web.
Yet these are still just buzzwords, popular among the tech-inclined but lesser known to those of us who still use the web mostly to order dog food and upload vacation photos to Facebook. But the most savvy businesses will need to get their products — and their marketing — on board early since once Web3 hits, it’ll likely hit quickly.
Here’s everything you need to know about Web3: what it is, why it matters, and marketing ideas you can get to work on right now.
What Exactly Is Web3?
Web 3.0, or Web3, is the future of the internet. While the internet is the interconnected electronic communications network we all know and love, the World Wide Web (better known as “the web”) is the websites and applications we use to access the internet. Put simply, Web3 is the next generation for how we do just that.
Web3 is a blockchain-based web, one that uses applications like cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and other forms of decentralized financing. We know that sounds kind of techy, but essentially, these tools ensure that users have more ownership over the communities they’re involved in; they can have read/write/own status to the web. Should Web3 take off, it may change our experience with the web the way smartphones did.
Web2 vs. Web3
Web3 exists to put control back into the hands of the user. If you think about Web2 (the web you’re using at this very moment), your browsing experience is owned by apps and websites that are providing their services in exchange for your personal data. Web3, on the other hand, doesn’t require personal data or permission (can we get a “Hell, yes!”). If you’re on the network, you can use the service. This also means that users can’t be censored since companies don’t own or manage Web3 networks.
This is true for making payments as well. On Web2, all of your transactions are attached to your personal information. With Web3’s cryptocurrency, none of them are; they’re attached to the native token, meaning that payments are built-in rather than relying on data you input.
Limitations of Web3
Though this decentralized approach to the internet has many benefits, there are some limitations that can impact how brands market with Web3. Web3 limitations include:
- Accessibility: Most browsers do not support Web3, meaning there are additional steps to access it. This is a major barrier to entry, since most internet users (ourselves included!) expect to fire up their browser and be on their way in less than a second.
- Ease of Use: Web3 can be a little trickier to use since it requires additional software and education. As a result, less-savvy internet users might have a harder time adopting Web3.
- Slow to Grow: While a decentralized web means users have more power, it also means developments can be slow to take hold. Blockchain is also expensive, so developers typically only upload small pieces of code.
What Are Examples of Web3?
You may already be more familiar with Web3 than you think. The term “Web3” is still new enough that it’s not quite part of the cultural lexicon, but many Web3 related-technologies are already common knowledge.
If you watched this year’s Super Bowl or followed Elon Musk on Twitter, you can’t help but know about cryptocurrency, which is actually one of the most common examples of Web3.
But cryptocurrency isn’t all Web3 is. Here are more Web3 examples to know:
- Blockchain: Web3 is a blockchain-based web. But what even is blockchain? Multiple computers spread across the internet all host blockchain, hence Web3’s decentralized nature. You can only add “blocks” of data to the chain by amending all database copies. This means that all of these “block” transactions are open to the public. Because these copies are spread across multiple computers, no authority can alter or otherwise govern them.
- Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs): Next to cryptocurrency, NFTs might be the most recognizable Web3 technology. Each NFT is unique and tied to either a digital or physical asset; in this way, they’re not all that different from cryptocurrency. However, NFTs are not currently recognized outside of Web3, so if you buy or sell NFTs, you’re just hedging your bets that one day they will have more tangible value.
- Decentralized Apps (dApps): If you’re reading this on Google Chrome, you’re using a centralized app because Google can read and edit the information stored in your browser — especially if you’re also logged in to your Google account. DApps are a calling card for Web3 because they allow you to access services without surrendering your data to an authority. If you’re using a dApp, you control your own data as well as who sees that data.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): Whether you know it or not, machine learning and AI are already commonplace. Google even uses AI to make decisions about your rankings. But insiders expect AI and machine learning to play a huge role in Web3. It’s not totally clear what this will look like since Web3 is still in the making, but machine learning can process massive amounts of information — perfect for the data-rich Web3.
The Metaverse and Web3
The metaverse is another buzzword for the future of the internet, but it is distinct from Web3. Rather than addressing internet access and use, the metaverse changes how we interface with web applications and services through technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Instead of interacting with the internet via a browser, we all might plug in to our favorite apps and websites using a headset that actually places us in that environment.
VR blurs the lines of the digital world and the “real” world. How this blends with Web3 is still uncertain (since neither are mainstream just yet), but there will likely be overlap between the two.
What Does Web3 Mean for Marketing?
Marketing without personal data may sound like a plot out of some stranger horror movie. But that reality is here, even without Web3. Google is already restricting third-party cookies, as are other tech giants like Apple. While inbound marketing is a great strategy for Web2, Web3 might not support the exact marketing approaches we use today.
Here are some possible characteristics of Web3 marketing:
- More Informed Strategies: Web3 may not require users to provide personal data, but that doesn’t mean marketers will be information-poor. Since public transactions are a hallmark of Web3, businesses will actually be able to see a complete record of all transactions. This means greater insight into purchasing decisions and, with it, a more informed way for advertising and selling products. So, basically what brands have wanted all along.
- Greater Innovation: More information, in theory, means more innovation. Not only that, but Web3 allows users to own and edit the communities to which they belong. Companies should have this same access, which means they can have a greater level of connectivity with and access to their customers. Brands that innovate with Web3 have the opportunity to create alongside their users, developing new engagements along the way.
- Communication Using Semantic Web (SW): Say goodbye to keywords — sort of. Humans and computers can communicate through SW because it allows machines to read human language. Metadata is one way that computers already can (and likely will continue to) interpret content. Brands should prepare for SW to ensure their content is as readable as possible.
- User-Centric Experiences: In Web3, users will own their own data. That means you can’t rely on centralized apps like Facebook or data-storing devices like cookies to understand your customer; you have to actually get out there and interact with them. Everything will be about the user, so you’ll have to find immersive, user-centric ways to connect with customers so that they willingly opt-in to your brand and whatever you have to offer.
Why Web3 Matters for Marketers
So are you still saying WTF about Web3? Think of Web3 as the internet’s greatest hits. It takes all the best things from Web1 and Web 2, gets rid of some of the pitfalls, and creates a new-and-improved experience that puts power back in the hands of its users.
It means returning to the decentralization we enjoyed with Web1, adding the innovation and modernization we enjoyed with Web2, and ditching the corporate-run services like Google, Apple, and Amazon that often compromised the average user’s privacy.
While users once had to choose between modern technology and open access, Web3 means they won’t have to choose anymore — and neither will you. Yep, that’s right, we can finally have our digital cake and eat it too. This can only improve your marketing since creativity will be endless, data will be abundant, and, theoretically, there will be a more level playing field.
Web3 may not be here just yet, but Web3-ready marketing strategies are actually great for Web2, too. Get in touch with First Page Strategy to set your brand up for success now and in the future.