PartnerHacker Weekend 06/11: Web3 and Ad-Free

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A quick recap of the PhD from this week:

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What if there were no ads?

I was reading this post over at Impact about how ad performance continues to decline. It mentions a Neilsen finding that the most trusted source of advertising is people you know, while paid ad spots are the least.

There's a lot of buzz around Web3. A lot of it is hype, but there's something real underneath it all. Whether and to what extent the tech can deliver, the basic idea of a radical shift in digital business models is important.

The desire to allow users to own their data, have granular control over who can access what when, and even monetize and micro-monetize the value of granting access to their data is rooted in real frustrations.

The free platform (where you are the product) has plenty of advantages. We all use LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. There is a ton of value there. But as companies have raced to grow on free users and then felt the pressure to monetize after-the-fact, business models have been more like compromises than part of company principles.

I don't think ads will ever go away. I don't even want them to. Done well, they are a positive externality. I get to walk by stores with beautiful displays to look at all for free, or be moved or entertained by a commercial.

But the over-saturated algo-driven digital info dump based on user data and dubious permissions is tiring. Nobody likes it. The companies doing it feel trapped. They need it. Their business models don't allow them to escape.

What if you played a little game of make-believe? What if ads were completely off the table, gone forever?

What would you do? How would you reach customers? How would products monetize? How would data be utilized?

A lot of interesting ideas start to bubble up.

Right now, users don't get a chance to see and compare what a hardcore privacy-friendly experience would feel like. Or an experience with no ads, recs, or algorithmic curation. If they had the ability to choose, for example, how many ads they were willing to see, or how much data they were willing to share, or what level of algo curation, they may decide the old model is better. I know I like having Amazon plumb my purchase history to better present products to me.

The point isn't that the status quo is bad and some particular vision of the future is better. The point is that info and ad fatigue along with Web3 ambitions might open up a world of more options. Competition among business models will reveal which are best for what.

As platforms and communities change models, anyone who relies on ads in their funnel needs to change too.

Sounds like another ecosystem moment.

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