Time vs Data. Is a time-based model possible for the monetization of online content?
Can a time economy solve privacy and big data issues creating a viable business case for a more creative, fair and open Internet?
Internet ruled by giants.
The latest generation is the first to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. Constantly connected to a social environment moreover companies, governments, and media. Social networks and messenger apps are not used only to connect friends. It has grown into a full communication channel and a global leading industry. Search and sharing on the Internet is completely dominated by the advertisement market.
Apart from the positive impacts, the consequences start to show. The business model built to grasp your attention is extremely effective. Combined with the technology to track your behaviour it is a proven perfect match for the ad market.
A company ideally targets and personalize their ads to a person that fits as a potential consumer of their product or service. Companies selling better data profiles get higher value for it. The best-performing companies in the world run such a model.
The ability to collect your data has been the main driver for the software, hardware, and platforms we are using. In short, all your internet behavior is collected, cross-connected with others, profiled, stored and sold. If you are using a free service, they have a profile of you. And even if you think you are unique with enough gathered data it is possible to predict your behavior.
What follows data tracking is the predictive economy. It requires even more data. In a predictive economy, data is used to anticipate what you need and when. The technology used is more and more invasive. Real-time speech analysis has proven risks and nothing stops the companies to use it for targeting. Face recognition is a real thing. The artificial intelligence algorithms are progressed enough to handle the data. And in theory, you could be tracked offline using camera surveillance images. Depending on your location this could be the case.
So what are the consequences?
Because of the need for advertisements to fund content, it is almost impossible to run a viable independent platform, video channel or blog. Content is moving towards tailoring the advertiser’s needs, not up to the creativity of the creator. Besides, the monetization is far from fair. Time spend on content does not reflect the creator’s earnings but subjective to what the content can sell.
Traditional media have been crumbled by corporate power buying up most communication channels. Now the search, social and video platforms use algorithms favouring advertisers. It does not get any better.  Independent media is forced to subscription-based paywall or donations. Which is not an easy match against the advertisement model.
Apart from the moral aspects of collecting and storing your data, it could as well create political power. The data aggregation is so big and connected, global concerns start to arise about it being used to influence public opinions not only for serving ads.
In the privacy debate the argument “I got nothing to hide so I don’t mind” comes the next rhetorical question; If you don’t mind they know all your data as an individual, can it still affect your life if used on your social group, or as a citizen?
An example: If the data of a substantial group can show who is a swing voter for the next elections. Then they can be specifically targeted with promotional posts in the social media and news outlets they follow. When the margin is small between party A and B, you can cost-effectively target the percentage that makes the difference. Such a tool can be a huge factor in small to global scale politics. And might influence where your country and your future are going.
Solving the issues
Lawmakers are struggling to keep up with the fast-moving tech. Taking note; if the lawmakers can be trusted in the first place.
Probably a lot of human rights organizations would disagree on the fact that you can. But even if we can enforcing privacy laws is slow process and maybe even impossible to enforce because the issue is global. Possibly it turns in to local fines which do not solve the issue. The solution should come from online platforms. As businesses, they have to provide solutions without cutting their source of income.
The current technology coming out from the social platforms are far from satisfying. It looks like they have become judges on what is political propaganda. Creators face monetization uncertainty on the major platform or a takedown of their channels. Such moderation creates a negative impact on any communication channel. Especially with the monopolistic position platforms have. Do not forget they have the power to influence everything you see on the internet. Your search results, your recommended posts, the apps in the stores. They could stop providing services to independent apps or websites. If there cannot be a debate there cannot be a democracy.
Changing the game; A time economy.
What could be a solution if the advertisement model proves to be a broken system for an open Internet and a subscription-based model would narrow down your access to content variety?
Blockchain is seen as a potential and extremely disruptive technology. But still misunderstood because of the complexity. The most well known is Bitcoin. One conclusion can be drawn. Bitcoin is a proven technology to globally exchange value without a middleman. It is an independent global currency and monetary ecosystem.
How can Bitcoin help change the advertisement model? It can’t because of it’s nature and history. But in the technology lies a very interesting proposal. Money is printed and distributed by central banks. Bitcoin is different and created digitally by calculating transactions. For the work being done by your computer, you get rewarded in Bitcoin. The distribution is done by an algorithm which calculates the amount and checks who has been the fastest to solve the calculations. Everyone who is solving the transactions is contributing to the safety of the currency and protects the algorithm.
Now to a new territory. The Bitcoin algorithm creates new coins every 10 minutes. The full amount goes to the one who solved the calculation the fastest. For Bitcoin, this is by design but other digital currencies have different emission. You could distribute the coin to more parties. If only part of the reward is for the calculations another part could go for a fair distribution based on the time spent in the ecosystem.
Now you could build a time-based attention economy. With the use of its global currency. Time is a scarcity and you can not produce more time in a day. It is measurable and universal. It is a resource and most will consider it the most valuable resource you have. It makes no difference who you are therefore it could be the fairest way to distribute currency and measure the value of content.
Time to market
A global currency designed to fulfill these specifications was launched in early 2018 by a global community willing to secure the currency. The coin name is BitTube. They are called Tube in the community. The developers have built the necessary distribution tools for content monetization. Additionally, digital wallet and the front and back-end for opting in the ecosystem. It is designed with ease of use and mass adoption in mind. Third parties can opt-in with their websites, social media profiles, video channels, apps or games. Content consumers get tiny rewards for browsing on any page. The currency has privacy features by default. User’s main dashboard uses a browser extension. The project offers its own browser with integrated functionalities that is based on the Mozilla Firefox. The company showcases the technology with the release of a new time-based social platform.*
BitTube is privately funded and did not have a crowd-sale. The company acquired an exchange and wallet licences from the European authorities. That makes TUBE convertible in fiat money and on and off-ramps for other currencies. Payment gateways for merchants, content paywalls and tipping on social platforms stimulate demand for the TUBE coin.
The early adopters and websites are live in the ecosystem and the userbase is growing. Now creators, musicians, journalists, streamers and alike have a new generation working environment. An ad-free full-fledged community-driven social media alternative designed to complement existing platforms.
You can build your audience there or share your channels from third parties to ad extra income to your content. Video, Livestream, images, audio, text all are supported. Because advertisers have no voice in the platform it is built purely for creators and users. The platform is backed by Peer-to-Peer technology to prevent content takedowns.
Could this be the future of digital monetization?
The technology is here and the concerns motivating consumers to search for alternatives. History shows big companies can fail and mass migration on the Internet is nothing out of the ordinary. The constant pushing for more data collection is awaking people and fuels the need for change.
A time economy gives back the freedom to content creators and it removes the incentive to track users. Every creator gets monetized from the first view of their content and in a fair distribution. Maybe humans are not built to be predicted and people do not want suggestions on what to do, see or feel next. Life, after all, should be an adventure.
- To explore and join the social media platform: bittubers
- Worlds most valuable brands https://www.forbes.com/powerful-brands/list/#tab:rank
- Social credits system China https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/26/china-social-credit-system-still-in-testing-phase-amid-trials.html