First published in October 2020
Alex sees the solution for modern communications as a hybrid solution combining editorial, advertorial, advertising and interaction, and the last point may even be the most important. But he takes his cue from what we now term the Web 3.0 – this is where he gets very excited.
“Technology is changing and it’s changing our lives. With Web 2.0 it was a two-way internet, where people posted data, it was hosted on those ‘sharing platforms’ and the reward was eyeballs or likes.
“So while Web 2.0 was a huge vast array of user-generated data, the internet of data, the next version, Web 3.0, will be the internet of value. We essentially endorse the ability to exchange value over the internet – and it’s not just cryptocurrencies, it’s tokenised assets, IP and all sorts of transactions.
“And in particular, media creation, content distribution and engagement are the next big thing.”
Alex sees the core of Web 3.0 being in value exchange. He argues that currently anytime people do anything online there are no financial rewards. Currently content created on popular social media platforms are gobbled up and monetised by the big corporations and people are getting tired of this.
“This is going to change. People are going to demand to be incentivised to create content and rewarded when they interact with brands or when they share their personal data. It’ll be key to gain something for your online activities.”
This worldview is germane to the genesis of 1World. Alex’s first Silicon Valley startup participation was in 1999 when he joined Broadband innovator 2Wire, that became the market leader in residential gateway category in North America, and was acquired by Consortium of AT&T, Alcatel and Telmex in 2006. Then he was leading Product Development at another Smart Home / IoT startup 4Home, brought in Verizon as an investor and main customer, that lead to an acquisition by Motorola Mobility in 2010. Then, after two years of retention at Motorola / Google, he decided he wanted to move into more creative and cutting-edge technologies. Looking at the internet in particular, Alex was puzzled that while people read articles or content online, there was very little actual engagement.
“It seemed strange that people did not offer their opinions despite the content being online and so I began to look at polls, quizzes, trivia and even debates as a means to engage people and encourage feedback.”
1World was developed along lines where its software engaged with audiences. Quality articles were published and then questions asked of the audience, perhaps in the form of polls. This data in turn could be used to create the next article.
“Especially if you ask provocative questions and create discussions – which in turn generates a launch pad for more content. It becomes an endless loop.”
1World has at its heart engagement, getting people involved in a conversation. This benefits everybody as the publisher has more input from the audience, the audience spends more time on the site increasing site retention, and as a result brands and advertisers also benefit from greater interaction.
“Unlike Google and other data management platforms, this is all real time. You can immediately react to how people responded to your question, offering them more tailored content and advertising to match their interests.”
Finally, 1World offers incentives to the engaged community; when people participate, they get rewarded either in the form of a multi-point system like badges or via cryptocurrency with real tokens.
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Active visitors to the site can be rewarded with points for voting, sharing, registering and interacting on the site. When they have reached a certain threshold, they can then convert those points into 1WO tokens which are ERC-20 compliant.
In terms of valuing the token for advertising, Alex likes to keep things simple so they decided that one token equals one CPM or 1000 ad impressions.
Currently the software is in beta and the 1WO token is on a number of exchanges including UniSwap and Liquid. There is a current market cap of $37 million with the coin equal $0.08.
Advertisers can approach 1World as a form of decentralised Google Adwords, specifying the targets, uploading creatives and then paying with tokens which can be done directly or through a managed service, and afterwards the software offers detailed reports of how the engagement succeeded.
Current customers include Newsweek, IBT Media, SPH, Times Group, and The Guardian while 1World is partnering with Algorland on the technology front.
In a recent promotion with the Babylon World Hackathon, it was the 1World software that delivered more registrations than Facebook, Instagram and Google combined according to data produced by the organisers.
Alex sees loyalty programmes online dominating the next generation of blockchain use cases.
“It makes sense as we can use blockchain to validate real traffic and to tackle the issue or bots. Advertising fraud is a huge deal and blockchain can eliminate the robot traffic. And eventually we won’t know the software is running on blockchain, no more than we know our websites run on TCP/IP protocols.”
Alex views quality as another issue on digital content marketplaces. There is such demand to get more for less, a drive to the lowest cost content, and even the larger publishing houses are finding this hard to produce quality, affordable content.
“We think crowdfunding content will become more popular. Editors can outsource content that their readers want while still producing the top end articles mandated by the relevant masthead. The key to maintaining quality in this scenario is to implement a rating system in which the readers are like moderators, voting up great copy or down less than compelling content.
“So you will end up with three layers – publishers, content creators and crowdsourced moderators – with everyone getting rewarded commensurate with their position on the value chain. Putting that all on a single marketplace, rather than a series of individual blogs, is what is going to make this practical and able to pay out money.”
Asked at the end of the day does Alex see printed papers still in our future, he pauses.
“I published a cultural magazine in California for a few years which I really enjoyed – I love the weight of a physical magazine. But I think books and magazines are going to change. They will no longer be fixed pages of static text but they will be customised, personalised and printed on demand to suit the purchaser.
“The internet as it stands from a media perspective is broken. People are creating content with passion but they don’t make any money – neither the creators nor the publishers. The only corporations that make money from digital content are parasites such as Facebook and Twitter. But technology can also be used to connect content with reward, especially in a decentralised world where the big corporations are bypassed.”