Everything you need to know about Web 3.0

We explore the impact on marketing from the next Web revolution

As we continue to grapple with the shake-up to our lives and work brought on by the pandemic, there’s another era of computing innovation on our doorstep waiting to disrupt us once again: Web 3.0.

This next phase of computing will redraw the relationship between brands and their customers and add to the challenges, as well as the opportunities, of the modern marketer’s remit.

Web 3.0 is an evolving development in computing, on the same trajectory that began with Web 1.0 and our current Web 2.0, according to Deloitte. This coming phase will be realised through growth and convergence of enabling technologies, including augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), advanced networking (such as 5G connectivity), geolocation, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, edge computing, distributed ledger technology (such as blockchain), and artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). While estimates predict the full realisation of Web 3.0 may be five to 10 years away, many early-stage applications are already driving significant competitive advantage.

If Web 2.0 was characterised by user-generated content, digital platforms, data and rich user experiences, then the next phase, Web 3.0, will take that even further. Web 3.0 will bring deep integration between virtual technologies and the real world, and promises a new, hybrid space for brands and marketers to develop connections with consumers through their digital lives.

Gartner VP and distinguished analyst, Avivah Litan, says Web 3.0 is characterised by users owning and controlling their own data, which they will be able to monetise. Users will own their own algorithms and their online experiences will be controlled by them rather than by the ‘gatekeeper’ platforms.

“It will be a user-driven online experience based on the preferences of the user, rather than platforms like Google, Facebook or Amazon driving the experience,” Litan tells CMO. “Consumers will not be persuaded by search engine results, social media algorithms or online commerce platform algorithms. They will own their own algorithms that will bring them to the brands most suitable to their preferences, without any third-party intermediation and influence.”

The Web 3.0 will encompass a wide array of technology innovation, but for Litan, blockchain will be fundamental to this phase of Web applications.

“It will be the back-end protocol managing the decentralised Web and will enable and support peer-to-peer, or direct user-to-service provider experience, across ecommerce, news, payments and so on,” Litan says. “Service providers will be able to reach customers directly without going through the gates of the gatekeepers. This will lower prices, increase competition and be very good for the global economy all round. It will also serve to bring in the unbanked populations into online commerce, as they can work with cryptocurrencies and don’t need to open bank accounts.”

It’s a mix that will continue to meld the line between digital and physical realms, with new technologies and innovations pushing the boundaries of how we engage, and prompting new ways of working and living to emerge.

So just what do savvy, forward looking brands, with an eye to catching the zeitgeist, need to understand about Web 3.0 and putting their name up in virtual lights?

Consumer brand perceptions

The early days of the Web, or Web 1.0, were characterised by static Webpages, with simple graphics accessed through a browser. As the Web developed, websites became more interactive and digital platforms developed, the primary one being Google, offering users a host of services and tools. Participatory social media then came along, generating reams of data through multitudes of interactions.

Over time, Web 2.0 has developed, with richer digital experiences, a host of new and redesigned Internet-connected smart devices and immersive, superimposed and virtual realms giving us new digital spaces and ways of interacting. This has been accelerated by COVID-related remote working, schooling, ecommerce and entertainment.

While we might not see a clear starting point for Web 3.0, many of these next-generation technologies are on the horizon.

Common Ventures MD and executive creative director, Brian Merriman, predicts Web 3.0 will bring at least three distinct trends in the way consumers engage with brands. “All consumers will be more critical of the brands they buy into and will want to know they’re buying into something that aligns with the way they live,” Merriman says.

He also predicts brand values will need to be reflected in real actions.

“We live in a world where brands can be as easily cancelled as individuals – you only have to look at the brands that backtracked on their position when it came to the Hong Kong protests such as NBA, Tiffany & Co and Blizzard Entertainment.

“It’s not that all brands need to jump on the ‘company with cause’ bandwagon. But they do need to be truthful about their purpose and actually abide by it, from company culture through to product development and every marketing touchpoint inbetween.”

The strength of online communities coupled with the COVID lockdowns has brought about an unusual duality in many people’s lives, Merriman continues. This has given rise to worldly digital citizens who live locally, but have a worldview shaped globally and at home.

“The opportunity for local brands to strengthen their position in Australia cannot be underestimated, especially as international deliveries will get back to normal time frames,” he says.

Finally, Merriman says the decluttering trend, rising in interest in home-made, along with the economic downturn and climate change, are creating consumers who want to buy less and make more. “Brands need to help us consume only what we need. Packaging needs to consist of less, be environmental or just be the naked product,” he says.

“Showing what else the products can do by highlighting how others use it is another key. The life of products will be extended as 3D printers become more commonplace. Brands should participate in providing these parts.”

Up next: Keeping consumers engaged in a Web 3.0 world

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