Personal Data is Worth a Lot — Here’s How Blockchain can Help You Monetize It
Personal data is rapidly becoming one of the most valuable things in society. Something that most people didn’t even consider just a few decades ago is now a huge part of the way we conduct our day-to-day lives.
In simple terms, personal data is the name given to facts and figures about us that are collected to be used or analyzed in some way. When it comes to our online activity, our personal data includes things like our browsing habits, the content we share, our internet history, and much more.
This information is extremely valuable to companies, for lots of reasons. Knowing what people are searching for and understanding their desires can help marketing companies to laser-focus their advertising on just the right people.
The content you share on Facebook can be used to generate traffic to the site, bringing in more customers and boosting profits for the owners of the network.
Every time we use social media, search engines, or allow companies to access our data in any way, we’re generating something highly useful and valuable.
But there’s a problem.
The problem of ownership
Although our data is worth potentially millions of dollars, we don’t get to see any of that money, because we don’t own our data.
When we post on social media, that content is owned by the network. When we use a search engine, the details of the search are owned by the service provider.
Every day, ordinary internet users are providing billions of dollars’ worth of data to companies for free. Companies use this totally free resource to make business decisions, sell to marketing companies, and draw people onto their websites.
Meanwhile, the actual creators of this information get nothing. Social media content like videos, photos, and written posts that go viral can result in big money for social media companies by attracting traffic and increasing membership.
It’s possible for the creators of this content to make a bit of money through ad revenue and indirectly by building their own brand, but they don’t end up with any of the massive profits the social media companies get.
Fortunately for the majority of people, it doesn’t have to be this way. A solution is out there, and it involves blockchain technology.
The blockchain solution
Blockchain technology has risen to fame recently due to its usefulness in creating decentralized systems. It’s particularly well known for its role in cryptocurrency, allowing the currency to exist outside of centralized platforms by storing data on an immutable ledger that is managed through consensus.
By managing data on a decentralized blockchain, it can be owned by the users. There’s no centralized body like a social media site with access to everything; the owners of the data get to choose who can access it, and they can charge them for that privilege.
And this data is worth a LOT. A study found that nine brokers made around £426 million by selling the data of customers. That’s a lot of money that could be put back in the hands of the data’s original owners.
Currently, the big centralized entities like social media giants and search engines collect data from their users (search details, social media posts, browsing history) and sell it to marketing companies who can use it to build customer profiles and tailor ads.
These user profiles, bundles of our data, sell for around $0.005 apiece, yet they can generate thousands of dollars for their buyers.
It’s a less-than-perfect system, and most ads are poorly targeted resulting in low conversion rates. What’s more, many ordinary people are pretty enraged at the thought of large companies mining their personal data and selling their online profiles to the highest bidder.
BitClave aims to change the way this is done, by building a search ecosystem where users alone decide who can access their personal data. Every time users perform a search or click a link, this data remains completely private.
Storing it on a decentralized blockchain removes the need for a third party to hold on to it, so people have total control over who they share their data with.
Then, if retailers decide they want that data, it’s the users who get paid for it.
This creates a more balanced and effective marketplace, where users only see ads from companies they choose, and advertisers can choose to target their ads at people who actually want to see them, maximizing conversion and saving a whole lot of money.
Perhaps more importantly, though, it puts the power back in the hands of customers. They’ll finally be able to reap the rewards of the highly valuable data that only they can provide, and create a fairer way of using information.