How Fractal fixes the broken ad industry
Today, we live out a large percentage of our lives online. Connecting with family, shopping, working and a myriad of other activities sees the world funnel more user data into the internet than ever before. It has almost become the norm to accept cookies, agree to practically any T&C’s and submit to the will of the internet gods in return for access to the platforms that enable us to live our online lives.
Billions of users interact with Facebook and Google daily, and digital advertising wears the crown in today’s marketing realm, where it remains the prime source of funding for most content on the Web. Facebook alone generates four petabytes of user data per day, which is a mind-numbing million gigabytes. All that data is stored in what is known as the Hive, which contains about 300 petabytes of user data; the kings of the digital marketing kingdom definitely have their bellies full when it comes to user data.
This user data remains an incredibly valuable commodity on the internet. The current Ad Market relies heavily on accurate information and efficient targeting to track potential consumers browsing the web. But due to today’s entirely duopolistic ad market structure, advertisers are basically forced to rely upon the fact that the information being purchased is not only accurate but reliable, also having almost no control over the prices they pay for user data and access.
On the user side of things, most people surfing the web are today aware that they are being watched, tracked and commoditized: they aren’t really sure exactly though how it all works and aren’t planning to read through the hundreds of pages of in-depth legal jargon found in Terms of Service documents anytime soon. If this wasn’t enough, the options for users to independently monetize their own data are few and far between.
The asymmetric relationships between users and advertisers and the ad market duopoly are wholly unbalanced, and an entirely new approach is needed in order to regain equilibrium; an approach that preserves monetization opportunities for content creators and that protects the prevalence of a free and open Web, while realigning the incentives in the current advertising marketplace. The reign of the duopoly in the content kingdom needs to come to an end.
This article identifies the key problems inherent in the current ad industry and looks at how Fractal Protocol offers alternative solutions. With the introduction of a data commons, a trustless ecosystem and incentive mechanisms that enable all parties to work together in cooperation, Fractal Protocol is working alongside some of Web3’s best to forge a free and fair internet free from the duopoly.
Returning the power of data back to the user
In today’s Ad Market, user data is often collected through pervasive, opaque methods of tracking user behavior online. Having recently been highlighted in the documentary “The Social Dilemma,” users are often completely unaware that they are giving valuable information about their interests, personalities, desires, etc. to social media platforms every time they surf the web. Users buying products online rarely maintain control over or see a return on the data they provide and, as a result, themselves become the product.
Fractal addresses this issue through buildings its identity layer within the protocol. We enable users to take back control so that their data is not collected and gobbled up by greedy third parties. Instead, we offer them rewards for sharing and verifying their data through a network of Attesters. Fractal Protocol offers a trustless platform upon which users can monetize their data through innovative incentive mechanisms that include data staking opportunities. By giving users a choice over whether or not they initially share their data with Verifiers, we put the power back in the hands of the people and take it out of the reach of the duopoly step by step.
With the introduction of the Fractal Protocol and in an entirely trustless and decentralized process, the user decides whether they want to share their credentials with Verifiers when they visit a website. These Verifiers may be the website itself or a third party working with the website. If the user decides to share their credentials, the Verifier can then compete to win the Ad Buys posted by Advertisers.
Utilizing mechanisms that are explained in further detail in the Fractal Protocol Whitepaper, the user is rewarded with ad content relevant to their interests and non-invasive thanks to their consent. They can also monetize their own data, with staking models explained further in the Fractal Protocol Whitepaper.
We’re taking the first steps towards giving data ownership back to the billions of internet users worldwide; today’s users have to sacrifice their data in return for product utility and who have been slowly kettled into the walled-off applications monopolized platforms that today only give the illusion of choice.
Breaking the chains of the ad market duopoly
We’ve established that today’s current web-driven user data landscape leaves users with very little control over what happens to their personal data. The duopoly reveals little to users of their platforms regarding what it collects about them. Still, it reveals even less to advertisers wishing to purchase user data, and this too presents its own issues.
With the “death” of third-party cookies and the siloing of user data by Facebook and Google, the scales have been further tipped in favor of the duopoly when it comes to the control of the user data Ad Market. As the ad market realm’s greedy kings continue to acquire competitors and expand their global stranglehold on user data, it seems unlikely that their quest for total control will be disrupted by the emergence of new players anytime soon.
We believe that only creating a data commons will empower healthy competition, erode rent-seeking duopoly margins and increase the utility available to users. Fractal aims to disrupt data access exclusivity by creating incentives and infrastructure for users to share accurate, but most importantly, verifiable data about themselves. This can in turn be leveraged by verifiers to sell their ad inventory and trusted by advertisers when buying it.
By increasing competition in the ad market space, we can improve advertisers’ return on investment, increase the revenue potential for publishers and allow users to share their data with much greater efficiency and transparency. Our goal is to achieve a better balance between data sovereignty and publishers’ and all content creators’ need to monetize their content. We feel this is essential to the survival of independent content creation and a free internet.
The future: A free and fair internet
As it stands, the current relationship between data providers and advertisers benefits the continually growing duopoly. Users are harvested for their data by platforms such as Google and Facebook, and then that data is sold to advertisers. However, the quality and accuracy of the data are often misrepresented and end up costing advertisers both time and money when the data purchased isn’t reliable.
We believe that incentivization and reward mechanisms should replace unfair and outdated models. Let’s compensate users for the valuable information they are currently giving away for free to the social media platforms they interact with every day. It is our goal to create a transparent, but most importantly, fair relationship between users and advertisers.
With our decision to build on Polkadot, we look forward to scaling properly and grow with the web3 economy. We are undertaking quite a challenge for a much-needed change. Polkadot provides us with the best possible infrastructure to do it, having witnessed current scaling issues on other popular blockchains such as Ethereum as the blockchain space continues to grow.
On our path towards building a free and fair internet, we made some friends along the way. We have partnered with Ocean Protocol, KILT Protocol and other Web3 pioneers looking to change the way the world uses the internet. Earlier this year, we successfully completed a $2.2m pre-sale round, with support coming from tier-one blockchain protocol founders, smaller and larger VC funds, infrastructure providers and more.
We are truly humbled to know that so many influential figures, projects and leaders from such a wide array of industries believe in our plan for the future of the free web as much as we do.
We can change the way users and advertisers interact within the ad market. We are creating a landscape that sees users aware of the information they are sharing when they surf the web, but that sees that they are also fairly compensated for it. We are tearing down the walls of data silos and giving advertisers access to high-quality, fraud-free, and consented data. Through this open-source protocol, both users and advertisers will in the future enjoy a symbiotic relationship that is profitable and reliable for all parties.
About Fractal Protocol
Built on Polkadot, Fractal is an open-source, zero-margin protocol that defines a basic standard to exchange user information in a fair and open way, ensuring a high-quality version of the free internet. In its first version, it is designed to replace the ad cookie and give users back control over their data.
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This article does not include elements of any contractual relationship. This article shall not be deemed to constitute a prospectus of any sort or a solicitation for investment or investment advice; nor does it in any way pertain to an offering or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities in any jurisdiction.
For the avoidance of doubt, please note that the Protocol has not been fully developed. Any statements made about the Protocol are forward-looking statements that merely reflect Fractal’s intention for the functioning of the Protocol. There are known and unknown risks that can cause the results to differ from the forward-looking statements.
Fractal does not intend to express investment, financial, legal, tax, or any other advice, and any conclusions drawn from statements in this article or otherwise made by Fractal shall not be deemed to constitute advice in any jurisdiction.