Imagine accessing the web knowing that every piece of content is real, never having to second guess the details or source. Picture your browser without non-relevant ads or annoying pop-ups, just content that you intended on searching for and consuming. Think of what it would be like to not have to worry about your privacy, knowing that your personal data is safe.
This is what we call the ‘Trusted Web’.
There are many signs that the Trusted Web is becoming a thing. Consumers are starting to pay for content they trust, be it Netflix, news subscriptions or audio services. The volume of Amazon boxes on the sidewalks of any urban street show us that people trust the web as a platform to buy stuff. The demands for real news versus fake news, for the benefit of society, are continuing to get stronger. Privacy and data regulation has gone mainstream.
To understand the need for the Trusted Web, we must first start by understanding how we got here.
First Era: The Open Web
The first era of the web started about 20 years ago, which we call the ‘Open Web’. Consumers globally flocked online, hardware and device connectivity went mainstream and services like Google, Wikipedia and online content became popular.
About 10 years into that journey, around 2008, programmatic technologies were introduced for advertising and fast-forward to present day, the Open Web has become the Dirty Web. With ad blocking, annoying and creepy ads, bots, fraud, data breaches, privacy regulation, brand safety concerns, toxic and divisive content, the number of issues continue to pile on and when something is so dirty that it cannot be cleaned, you throw it out.
Second Era: The Social Web
The second era of the web started about 10 years ago, which we call the ‘Social Web’. Led by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, consumers began creating, sharing and consuming content with each other en masse and this was further accelerated with the rapid adoption of smartphones.
Publishers already see these platforms as closed, as they get very little for giving quite a lot. An agency exec recently told me that Facebook is going to be useless to them in a few months after their third-party data integrations stop working. Brands will have an increasingly challenging time getting data into or out of the Closed Web.
Third Era: The Trusted Web
The third era of the web is being born in front of us right now, and we are calling it the ‘Trusted Web’. This is the vision for a better future for the web, one where trust is at the core. We all know it’s desperately needed.
Consumers are leading the move to the Trusted Web with their actions. Publishers have a pulse on what consumers understand and what they are looking for. And brands will follow, as they look to establish trust with their customers and realize that the Dirty Web and Closed Web may not be serving their interests in a way that’s aligned with their values.
Welcome to a new era, the Trusted Web. A vision I expect to become the new reality.
Kunal Gupta is the Founder & CEO of Polar, a technology platform provider whose mission is to enable a business model for the Trusted Web. Polar’s partners include major global publishers and the business has offices in Toronto, New York, London and Sydney.
Kunal is passionate about finding calm and focus in a modern era. Kunal is on the board for CAMH, Canada’s leading mental health hospital and research organization. He writes regularly on the topics of leadership, mindfulness and technology culture on his blog at findfocus.today.