Technology shapes our daily lives and has a significant impact on how we conduct business. Many wonderful things have come from technology, like knowledge sharing, ease of communication, connections, new discoveries, and cures that have saved lives. What used to take hours or even days may now be done in seconds, if not milliseconds. Nearly everyone has been affected in some way, and lives have been forever changed.
The internet, the most powerful of all, continues to have an impact on our lives in ways we could never have predicted. In 2021, there were an estimated 35.68 billion Internet-connected devices, with that figure expected to grow to about 75 billion by 2025. The internet has evolved from Web 1.0 in the 1990s to Web 2.0 today, and we are rapidly approaching a new era of the internet, Web 3.0.
This raises several issues for both consumers and brands: What exactly is Web 3.0? What distinguishes it from what we have now? How will it affect how we now utilize the internet, our lives, and our businesses? How will this new technology affect marketing, and how can marketers use it to their advantage?
There’s always a beginning — the evolution
Web 1.0 (1990–2000)
Web 1.0 was the first version of the web, also known as the Syntactic web or read-only web. It was all about static pages of information. A user could only read the information provided by the content producers and there was no way to communicate back. In this era, brands used email marketing, rudimentary SEO, traditional TV and radio advertising, and print advertising supported by internet messaging to reach people.
Web 2.0 (2000– till date)
Web 2.0, also known as the Social Web or read-write web, evolved to be consumer-first, mobile-first, and data-driven, allowing for interactions and user-generated content. This era saw the introduction and proliferation of centralized social platforms (Facebook, Twitch, Youtube, Flickr, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, etc) having access to users’ data. With this data, social media networks became more powerful, giving rise to ads (mobile ads, programmatic ads, geo-targeting) and even analytics tools to better understand customer interactions, such as Google Analytics, Segment, Mixpanel, and Appsflyer.
Marketing evolved into something more engaging, quantitative, and analytical. Marketing investment could be justified, and a 360-degree view of customers enabled more targeted messaging and personalization.
Today, users are influential, thanks to user-generated content and the proliferation of video content platforms (Reels, Shorts, Snaps), giving rise to influencer marketing and affiliate marketing at various levels for B2B, B2C, and DTC firms.
Web 3.0 (The Decentralized Web)
Web 3.0 is a decentralized version of the internet where platforms and apps are built and owned by users. Unlike Web 2.0 (the current web), which is dominated by centralized platforms like Google, Apple, and Facebook, Web 3.0 returns control and decision-making to the internet community through smart contracts, the foundation of blockchain, crypto, and NFTs. As a result, no business or person owns the data.
Key Components of Web 3.0 include:
Web 3.0 is powered by blockchain technology. Blockchain is a rapidly evolving technology that uses smart contracts to build an open ecosystem by eliminating centralized systems. When compared to Web 2.0, which only had customers or users and the controlling platforms, this expands the stakeholders to include developers, partners, and investors.
2. Semantic Web (SW)
A semantic web allows humans and machines to interact more effectively. Machines will be able to comprehend and respond to sophisticated human requests in a more natural way than ever before with Web 3.0.
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Humans and computers communicate in different languages. Previously, humans had to enter data in strange ways to match what was previously programmed. This is changing; thanks to the capabilities of AI, machines, and humans can now interact more effectively. Consider using voice search on your favorite smart devices. This technology is used in Web 3.0 to help computers interpret the data inputs of users. In exchange, they would provide accurate and timely replies.
Web 3.0 is designed to be everywhere. This implies that it will be available to everybody, on any device, and in any application.
5. Three-Dimensional (3D)
Web 3.0 enables the development of more applications using three-dimensional design. We would see more virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 3D product visualizations.
Decentralization is at the heart of Web 3.0. Unlike Web 2.0, where information is stored on a single server in a given place, Web 3.0 information will be stored in several locations at the same time. There is no centralized storing of data.
Yes, consumers in today’s digital-first society continue to want data and privacy control, as well as decentralization, openness, and increased user usefulness. Consider how a customer might grant access to data in their digital wallet rather than handing out their personal information. What does this mean for brands and marketing?
Web 3.0- Marketing and Brands?
The Web 3.0 era has already begun! Consumer marketing, developer marketing, and community marketing are all key concepts in Web 3.0 marketing. As Web 3.0 grows, there may be a greater emphasis on tactics such as SEO, social media marketing, influencer marketing, and content marketing, which may claim a larger share of marketing teams or budgets in addition to new web3 and NFT mechanics.
Brands must understand that, while the technology and procedures of Web3 differ from Web 2.0, the focus is entirely on consumers and future customers. Hence, the potential for community building and customer loyalty is far greater. Marketers must cultivate loyal and engaged groups that will willingly share their data and even become brand ambassadors.
Many brands, like Nike, Dolce & Gabbana, Coca-Cola, Ticketmaster, NFL, and Heineken, have used web 3.0 and NFT mechanics to develop custom immersive and exploratory experiences that boost brand awareness, loyalty, and retention. When there are enablement layers and improved education, we expect a lot more adoption.
Web 3.0 and Marketers — what’s next?
Web 3.0 is going to change the playing field when it comes to content creation, consumption, and marketing. Marketers will need to be more creative and embrace the new Web 3.0 by building communities, adding NFTs to their content strategy, utilizing memes as part of communication, and rethinking growth frameworks and KPIs.
It’s time for businesses and brands to stop thinking of customers as a number in a database. Remember, Web 3.0 marketing is about building meaningful relationships with your customers and creating partnerships that benefit everyone.