Digital marketers are engaged in an ongoing struggle to deliver personalized experiences to consumers. And these challenges will only mount with the impending "Cookiepocalypse." As Google, along with other tech giants, continues to move full speed ahead with plans to retire third-party cookies, marketers are looking for ways to reach customers and deliver relevant content.
Web browsers Firefox and Safari were ahead of the curve in disabling third-party tracking. But even before third-party cookies had started to crumble, Gartner noted that 63% of digital marketing leaders were grappling with personalizing their company's content. More recently, Gartner reported that "most customers want all of their interactions with a brand to be personalized … [yet] there's an inherent tension between personalization and privacy."
Web 3.0 might be an answer to the online marketing personalization problem -- not to mention a host of other issues facing digital marketers. Web 3.0 is the latest iteration of the internet, potentially encompassing artificial intelligence, semantic web and decentralization. It's a far cry from Web 1.0, the original internet version that served as a read-only method to deliver information with static website content and centralized infrastructure.
When the shift began from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 in the late 1990s, the internet did become more interactive. Blogs, wikis and social media enabled marketers to add user-generated content to their marketing strategies and tailor content to their intended audiences. But today's Web 2.0 still largely uses centralized cloud utility infrastructure.
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How will Web 3.0 impact digital marketing?
Though Web 3.0 is in its early stages, it potentially can improve the internet user experience and further evolve the digital marketing industry. "Web 3.0 offers better control over data privacy and security and helps deliver a more personalized user experience," wrote Shubham Gupta, a content writer at Gartner Digital Markets. Here's what marketers can expect as Web 3.0 begins its rollout.
1. Decentralization could lead to increased data privacy
Web 3.0 is built on blockchain technology and can potentially provide better data security and transparency versus the current centralized storage system. Blockchain uses an immutable ledger to track transactions, making it almost impossible to tamper with the data being stored.
The result will be more security, but not necessarily more data privacy, according to Jordan Gutt, customer experience manager and Web 3.0 lead at immersive technology platform provider Glimpse Group, who offered a scenario where both security and privacy are possible. "We can expect certain aspects of Web 3.0 to promote security and data privacy," he explained, "like the ability to control a Web 3.0 wallet by enforcing data confidentiality and integrity since each transaction requires the owner of the wallet to 'sign' it. This concept will allow users to give permission to companies and advertising firms to use their data and be given the opportunity to earn and be compensated from its use."
2. Data privacy standards might be more stringent
On the other hand, Web 3.0 might also bring about stricter rules and regulations for user data collection and storage and the way data is used for marketing purposes, said Scott DePeralta, principal consultant of his namesake sales and marketing consultancy. Companies may not be able to freely collect and use personal data without explicit consent from users. "This could lead to more creative solutions for gathering customer insights without relying on personal information such as cookies or IP addresses," DePeralta conjectured.
Another data privacy consideration is how social media networks like Facebook and Twitter will fare with Web 3.0. Regulations already in place, such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, could force social networks to rethink their business models to comply with privacy and protection laws, or else risk being shut down, DePeralta surmised. Smaller competitors, he added, may take advantage of the vacuum created by newfound freedoms afforded by Web 3.0, eroding the power of established tech companies in some markets.
3. Semantic web improves personalization
Marketing strategies are already adjusting for the demise of the third-party cookie, and Web 3.0's semantic targeting may prove to be the component needed for digital marketers to personalize content. Semantic web technologies enable users to create data stores on the web, build vocabularies and write rules for handling data.
Layla AcharyaFounder and CEO, Edwize
Companies can target consumers based on their online activities, interests and behaviors, resulting in more personalized campaigns and more accurate targeting, said Layla Acharya, founder and CEO of online e-learning consultancy Edwize. "Additionally, marketers will be able to track consumer engagement and interactions … to gain better insights into their target audience," she explained. "This will enable marketers to better understand the interests and needs of their consumers and tailor campaigns to meet those needs. [The result is] more effective campaigns and better ROI for marketers."
4. Content freedom improves marketing reach
When it comes to social media platforms, one of marketing's challenges is ensuring that content has enough reach. With Web 3.0's decentralization, digital marketers will have more content freedom -- and, potentially, more reach.
"A lot of marketers have been frustrated with the restrictions and algorithms of social media platforms, which have made it difficult to reach audiences and grow their brands," said Matthew Ramirez, founder of writing services provider Rephrase Media. "Web 3.0 will allow marketers to bypass social media and reach audiences directly through their own websites and blogs. They will be able to customize their content and target specific audiences without having to worry about algorithms or ad spend." By interacting directly with customers, he added, marketers will "get real-time feedback on their products and services."
Matthew RamirezFounder, Rephrase Media
Further, "decentralized platforms, such as those built on blockchain technology, can allow for greater autonomy and control over the distribution of content, as they are not controlled by a single entity or organization," said Dan Riley, founder of Spotify Unlocked. As with all technologies, he cautioned, the content freedom due to Web 3.0 does come with a caveat: It could lead to more censorship or control over content.
"If Web 3.0 technologies are used to create more centralized and controlled platforms for sharing and distributing content," Riley reasoned, "this could limit the freedom of individuals to share and distribute content as they see fit."
5. Digital marketing strategies will need upgrades
Marketers should start adjusting their digital marketing strategies now to take advantage of Web 3.0. Integrating a Web 3.0 wallet into existing products is one step marketers need to take, Glimpse's Gutt stressed, adding that this initial strategy "will both educate new people of the benefits of Web 3.0 and also create a larger base of Web 3.0 users."
In addition, non-fungible tokens are gaining momentum, but the term will be replaced with simpler monikers like "digital assets" or "digital collectibles," Gutt said. "They should be seen less as speculative assets and more as a blockchain-enabled tool used by companies to engage directly with their audience." Businesses, he advised, should "own the relationship" with their customers and not have it "mediated through another third-party app like Instagram or Twitter."
How to prepare for Web 3.0 in marketing
"With Web 3.0, the future of marketing has just begun," wrote Gartner's Gupta, who emphasized monetizing data insights, implementing blockchain and following the latest trends as keys to Web 3.0 preparation. "This new internet era will bring with it a wave of new opportunities for B2B software marketers -- from protecting user privacy to leveraging new data sources and tracking marketing campaigns across the digital-first buyer journey."
Ultimately, marketers have some time before Web 3.0 is commonplace. By preparing now and laying the groundwork, they'll be able to stay ahead of the competition and be ready to roll as more Web 3.0 technologies take hold.