Is Web3 the next phase of the internet – or just a phase?

Discussions around Web3 have really accelerated. Whether it is just a matter of dipping their toes into the blockchain, or immersing themselves in the metaverse, many brands and advertisers are starting to take the opportunities seriously. The method’s most ardent proponents see decentralization as crucial to creating an Internet with privacy and user control at its core, and claim Web3 could be the most viable way to break Big Tech’s monopoly.

Despite the growing momentum around Web3 and the opportunities it can provide, the industry seems divided on how to perceive the new technology. Opinions on blockchain, cryptocurrency, and decentralization remain mixed: According to Stack Overflow’s 2022 developer survey, 32% of developers have a “favorable” view of Web3, compared to 31% who have an “unfavorable” view.

As the judging panel continues to consider the possibilities, we asked industry experts what they think of Web3’s progress, whether it really will be the next phase of the Internet, and what challenges could stand in its way.

Web3 can only go so far without regulation

Web3 gives Internet users more control over the privacy of their data than ever before. But despite benefits such as decentralized data capabilities, the lack of policy in cryptography and NFTs has highlighted Web3’s susceptibility to fraudulent activity.

More investment in Web3, once the decentralized currency market thrives again, could see companies succeed in gaining public participation and realizing Web3’s potential to overtake Web2. However, until centralized bodies such as governments become familiar with decentralized environments, and platforms overcome complex regulations and even outright ad bans, the ad technology industry is limited by some significant hurdles.

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Xavier Klein, Director of Marketing Services UK, science making

Big Tech Blocks Web3 Again – But For How Long?

There are some major barriers to mass adoption of the Web3 blockchain developed for decentralized identifiers (DIDs), to protect individual identity and that would herald the beginning of the ‘next chapter of the Internet’. DID will enable users to transact securely and privately online but also get a slice of the data monetization procedure if they want to sell their DIDs to advertising platforms.

The main hurdles are all from Big Tech, who are concerned about the effects of introducing DID on their existing ad revenue. However, Big Tech is under revenue pressure — Meta from Apple’s ATT upgrade in 2021, Google from Microsoft’s investment in ChatGPT to speed up Bing, Amazon’s layoffs in 2023 from increased investment. So there may be some strategic merit for a Big Tech player to provide a path to mass adoption for DID.

Kate Cox, Chief Marketing Officer, Bright Bed

The evolution of audiences will boost Web3 adoption in due course

Web3 and the metaverse are the natural evolution of the Internet we know today and will have a huge impact on the advertising technology industry. When you think about decentralized technology and virtual worlds (including games), new opportunities arise for personalized real-time advertising and data privacy. Advertisers will need to rethink how they reach highly engaged audiences in virtual environments, while respecting users’ privacy rights, possibly through blockchain-based solutions.

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Over the next five to 10 years, Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha will become more valued audiences, born out of a world of gaming, immersion, and creative economies. Expect utility-packed, organic NFTs to be integrated into ad technology formats, AI-generated video, artwork, transcription, and digital human disrupting the creative industries. Interactive and immersive experiences are already part of the DNA of good brand experiences. Moving people from being an audience to being a participant is the backbone of Web3 experiences but is now really being achieved through interactions with AR or virtual worlds.

Sam Field, EMEA Director of Innovation and Creative Partnerships, Yahoo Creative Studios

The potential of Web3 for advertisers is too great to ignore

Ben Botley

Web3 concepts can unlock huge potential for advertising. Blockchain technology, for example, can transform how data is used, providing a public ledger that ensures transaction data is verifiable and trustworthy across the supply chain. Meanwhile, digital identity wallets give users direct control over their data and can act as consistent, consistent identifiers that facilitate valuable brand user communications.

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These features reflect the core ideology of Web3: shifting control away from the Internet’s gatekeepers and toward its users. By comparison, Meta’s development goes against this ideology as Meta will focus on protecting its walled garden, even if its efforts make Web3 more mainstream.

Ben Botley, CEO of Al-Kimi Exchange

Web3 has yet to deliver on its promises, but the future looks bright

Like the growth of the Internet from Web1 to Web2, Web3 will provide an evolutionary step that enhances existing functionality in a consumer-centric way, that is, through immersion and self-mastery. The past couple of years has increased the selling promise of the technologies, which have vastly outpaced the practical use cases we’ve seen materialize in the industry – either due to misuse or quick money grabs to tap into the broader cryptocurrency market.

However, these years of capital-supported growth has also helped drive these technologies through development, and despite the downturn in the market, I’m sure we’ll see exciting new projects developed over the coming years.

Vlad Panov, Vice President of Web3 Engineering, Publicis Sapient

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