Earlier this year, we took a look back at what’s next for the relationship between publishers and the Metaverse to see how publishers are dealing with the early stages of emerging technologies. In this piece we continue this trend, looking at the latest developments between publishers and Web3 technologies including NFTs and Blockchain.
A Web3 recap
Despite the boom of crypto in 2020, its peak in 2021, and its “crash” in 2022, many still dream of a decentralised internet where users can experience more secure user validation processes, captivating interactive media content, decentralised data storage and ownership of assets (like NFTs), is still a goal for many.
Web3 is the term coined to cover this next iteration of the internet. In Web3, blockchain, NFTs and crypto currency play a central role. The focus is around giving greater agency back to users and avoiding power being garnered by central players like tech giants as we see today.
4 ways publishers can experiment with Web3 in 2023
1. Find ways to make Web3 fit into everyday life
For adoption of Web3 to become widespread, it needs to be something which happens in the background and fit into daily routines. Therefore, the current hurdle facing all Web3 adopters, not just publishers, to mainstream adoption is making UX seamless. As William Ban, VP of Web3 Operations at TIME told the Digital Growth Summit, we need to make Web3 “mum-proof”. Ways for publishers to do this include keeping subscription information on the Blockchain for subscribers so they can be always securely locked in. For Ban, this mainstream adoption should come in the next 2-5 years.
Making Web3 fit into everyday life could help publishers with their data compliance work. Decentralised data identifiers could lead to reader data being stored, owned, and willingly shared exclusively at user level only when news algorithms need it. This could lead to a win-win situation where newspaper publishers benefit from a reduced burden on GDPR compliance and where readers can start benefitting from the value of owning and sharing their data. This could even come in the form of tangible rewards like access to premium articles, discounts, or capturing part of added value on personalised ads through interoperable money. This is the direction we have already seen being taken by the Cogency Lab Initiative.
The Cogency Lab Initiative is a move to introduce Web3 to publishing. It is backed by the Web3 Foundation and WAN-IFRA with publishers including Mediahuis, Le Parisien/Les Echos and Condé Nast already signed up. The initiative started in mid-2022, and by the end of 2022 the decision was made to focus the project on developing decentralised identifiers to give users control over their data.
The aim is to use these identifiers to do sign-ups and registration, as well as store reading preference data so if a reader changes between news providers, they don’t have to go through the preference process again. In the project, readers will also be rewarded for loyalty, with rewards based on polkadot network, promoted by the Web3 Foundation who are subsidising the initiative. The current aim is to publish a blueprint of a minimum viable product to explain what the Cogency Lab Initiative wants to build to garner support, and start to develop the product in 2024. Keep your eyes peeled for updates from the initiative throughout 2023!
2. Commit to Web3 communities
As we mentioned in our Metaverse article, existing Web3 and Metaverse communities are starting to resent initiatives done to get “one’s feet wet”, so publishers need to commit if they are serious about being in Web3.
2023 could be the year when actors will go from being innovators to early adopters in these areas, increasing expectations. Newspaper companies should start by thoroughly observing the Web3 communities they may be advertising historical NFTs to. This will lead to a deeper understanding of their culture, enhancing business choices in areas where “Web3-native” teams have already been active for years.
Standing for one’s beliefs and showing commitment in a world of digital ownership surrounding simple files means more than most people would imagine. For example Richard Chen, Co-Founder of the NFT smart contract developer Manifold, rejected a $9.5 million offer on his NFT profile picture. For members of these communities, tokens can represent more than assets. They can go as far as representing one’s identity, just like a large company would value its logo. Can publishers develop strong relationships with their own Web3 identities in 2023?
3. Build a “premium tier” Web3 community
Newspapers will need to find a way to build a “premium tier” community based on exclusivity and engagement. Art, Collectables, and Profile Pictures (PFPs) will continue having a place in Web3 but no longer dominate 90-95% of the entire NFT volume.
Web3 communities could be a place to gather fans of Web3 and newspapers together around specific, premium immersive content by providing a 3D royalty programme. These tokenised reward programmes can be used within communities for giveaways, swapping, and donations. Different types of NFTs can be tools for verification and access to these communities. In this context, blockchain-based solutions should aim at solving vital problems for news readers, promoting these communities, while taking a distance from relying solely on gaming or simplistic collectibles.
4. Keep your eyes on Nostr
One Web3 tool to keep an eye on in 2023 is Nostr. The tool has been gathering a lot of interest, and according to their website, “Nostr is a simple, open protocol that enables global, decentralized, and censorship-resistant social media”.
In practice, this means that instead of experiences like on Twitter or TikTok where feeds are centrally controlled by algorithms and attention is used to sell ad space, Nostr builds feeds which are independent of centralised algorithms and distributed uniquely. This is done by using relays, where clients send their posts/content, and these are then broadcasted onto the relevant feeds of people based on their chosen relays. Publishers could share relevant articles on these feeds, with the ability to read on and access these articles managed already integrated crypto micropayments.
The technology is still in its infancy, but it will be an important one to monitor as people set out searching for a new Twitter alternative.
Media Innovation Analyst @ Twipe
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