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Web3 vs. Ad-Free: How Much Does Privacy Cost?

In the evolving landscape of the internet, the emergence of Web3 technology promises a shift towards a fair, decentralized online community. It advocates for transparency, fair reward distribution, and new models of user interaction, often backed by blockchain and cryptocurrencies. However, a seemingly contradictory trend persists—the rise of ad-free subscription platforms. So, let’s explore why ad-free models may be the antithesis of the Web3 ethos.

Privacy Shouldn’t Come at a Price: Why the Choice Between Data and Dollars is Unacceptable

Since Meta announced their ad-free subscription model, the digital landscape presented users with a false dichotomy – surrender your privacy and personal data for targeted ads or pay a premium fee for privacy. This binary choice is problematic as it coerces individuals into trading their personal information for a supposedly enhanced online experience or bearing the financial burden of maintaining privacy.

But privacy is not a commodity that should be up for sale. It is an inherent right that individuals should be able to enjoy without financial constraints. The notion of paying for privacy implies that the default online experience is an invasion of personal space, and protection comes at an additional cost. This challenges the very essence of digital freedom – and this is a statement coming from a marketing expert.

The Principles of Building a Fair Online Community

All of this happens while we, the Web3 enthusiasts, dellusionally envision a digital landscape where users actively participate in decision-making, content creation, and benefit from a transparent reward system. The decentralized nature of Web3 seeks to eliminate centralized control and promote inclusivity. Ad-free subscriptions, on the other hand, may isolate users who cannot afford to pay for an ad-free experience, creating a digital divide.

Sharing Revenue as a Standard

Web3 champions the idea of revenue sharing as a standard practice, challenging the traditional model of charging users for ad-free access. This shift towards sharing revenue promotes digital citizenship, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility among users. A community that shares in the success of a platform is more likely to contribute positively to its growth.

Let’s break down the concept or revenue-sharing tech giants with an example.

Let’s break down the concept of revenue sharing in the context of Web3 by comparing it with the model of charging users for ad-free access using the examples of a hypothetical platform, “Z,” and the well-known social media giant, Facebook.

Traditional Model (Facebook):

In the traditional model exemplified by Facebook, the platform relies heavily on advertising as a primary source of revenue. Users access the platform for free, but in return, they are subjected to targeted ads based on their data and online behavior. This approach allows Facebook to monetize user data by providing advertisers with a highly specific and engaged audience.

However, this model comes with its drawbacks. Users might feel that their privacy is compromised, as their data is used for targeted advertising without clear transparency or control. Additionally, the user experience can be disrupted by intrusive ads, leading to a demand for ad-free alternatives.

Web3 Model (Platform Z):

Now, let’s consider a hypothetical platform, “Z” (not to be associated with “X” lol), operating under the principles of Web3. Instead of relying solely on user data for revenue, Platform Z adopts a revenue-sharing model. In this scenario, the platform could integrate blockchain technology and cryptocurrency to facilitate transparent and automatic revenue distribution.

Here’s how it might work:

Tokenized Revenue

Let’s say that Platform Z issues its own cryptocurrency tokens, let’s call them “Z Tokens.”

Users are rewarded with Z Tokens for various activities such as creating valuable content, engaging with the community, and contributing to the platform’s growth.

Decentralized Governance

Token holders have a say in the platform’s decision-making through decentralized governance mechanisms. Users become stakeholders, influencing the platform’s development, features, and policies.

Revenue Sharing

A portion of the advertising revenue generated on the platform is converted into Z Tokens.

These tokens are distributed among users based on their contributions, creating a fair and transparent reward system.

Ad-Free Options

And if the ad-free subscription shall continue, isers who prefer an ad-free experience can choose to spend their earned Z Tokens to access premium features, including an ad-free environment. This way, users indirectly contribute to the platform’s revenue by participating actively, and their contributions are recognized and rewarded.

Key Differences:

  • Transparency and Control
  • User Empowerment
  • Users become Stakeholers, not Clients
  • Shift from Paying to Participating
  • Boost of Creativity and Quality Content
  • Targeted Advertising would continue only with User Consent and through Innovative Advertising Models

Web3 champions the principles of open resources and decentralization, asserting them as integral components of the social responsibility that tech platforms should uphold. While ad-free platforms offer users a streamlined experience, there is a risk of unintentionally fostering a more enclosed and exclusive online environment. The concept of open resources is crucial in empowering diverse communities and contributing to the overall health of the digital ecosystem. Simultaneously, revenue-sharing models embedded in the Web3 philosophy inherently promote ethical practices. 

Treating users as stakeholders encourages platforms to prioritize ethical decision-making, ensuring the long-term sustainability of their community. This juxtaposes the ad-free model, which leans heavily on user payments and may inadvertently overlook the ethical considerations associated with revenue generated solely from ads.

Vyara Stefcheva

Vyara Stefcheva is a Web3 enthusiast and pioneer in Web3 marketing. In her role as the CEO of Zahara Consult, she enjoys the exciting privilege of collaborating with top-notch businesses from various industries, including IT, real estate, fintech, crypto, blockchain, AI, and beyond.

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