The billion dollar data opportunity, that pays everyone for using the internet

Jack Booth
Oasis Foundation

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It’s your data, why shouldn’t you be rewarded?

In the 21st century, your online data is more valuable than oil, but ad networks have been exploiting it for years. Every time you go online or click accept on a website, you are giving your data away. It is collected, stored, and analyzed to target you with ‘personalized’ adverts. Sometimes it is even sold to third parties without your knowledge! With annual ad revenues reaching nearly $140 billion [1], shouldn’t you have the option to control what happens to your data? Shouldn’t you get the chance to monetize it, instead of your data lining the pockets of the huge data companies?

The internet is not free

You may think it doesn’t cost anything to surf the world wide web, but you’d be wrong. Think about all the information you give the internet every single day, either on your laptop or through apps on your phone:

  • All the personal information you reveal on social media
  • Do you have a smartwatch or FitBit? All your health data is collected in readiness to be analyzed and used
  • Hands up if you accept cookies on a website because it’s easier than painstakingly trawling through, rejecting every single ‘vendor’?

And all of this ‘free’ data collection happens because we let it!

The problem with data

At the Techonomy Conference in 2010, the then Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, said: “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. That’s something like five exabytes of data.”

Fast forward just ten years to DOMO’s 2020 ‘Data Never Sleeps 8.0’[2] report that found the internet reaches 59% of the world’s population, 4.57 billion people, and an article on 16Best.net[3] found that each individual created 1.7MB of data every second in 2020. That’s a lot of data! In fact, in 2019, the World Economic Forum[4] predicted that in 2020 there could be 40 times more bytes than there are stars in the observable universe!

However, there are two problems any researcher wishing to analyze data has when buying personal data sold via third-party firms; privacy and quality. Current centralized marketplaces trade data without the data owner’s consent or knowledge, and as such, the quality of the data provided is generally poor and inaccurate. These centralized computers can also be vulnerable to attack.

But there is a murkier side of data usage. There have been reports on how data has been exploited to manipulate the media to influence election outcomes. There have also been incidents where security has been breached and data sold on the dark web.

Data is valuable, but only to the companies that use it!

With annual ad revenue in 2020 reaching approximately $140 billion. Even during the pandemic, there has been a year-on-year increase across every aspect of digital media advertising, according to a report on Marketing Dive[5].

Digital video saw the biggest growth up 21% to $21.6 billion, whilst social media ad revenue, up 16% to $41.5 billion, made up 30% of all revenue.

But where did all this money made from your data go to? Back into the coffers of the big Tech companies, that’s where!

How Apple iOS14 put a spanner in the works

The latest Apple iOS 14 updates introduced major changes in how data is stored and used on Apple devices. Not only has it reduced the number of days cookies can be stored, but it has implemented a privacy-centric feature. This means users have to deliberately ‘opt-in’ to allow data tracking, rather than the current situation where they have to ‘opt-out’.

These updates have given back control to users over what apps and websites can track about them. It has also left the mechanism for ad-targeting and user-tracking up to 80% less effective.

Google is also making changes to its privacy plans. They have announced that by the end of 2022, the Chrome browser will not support third-party cookies, and they intend to stop behavioural targeting.

A new movement for internet data

We’re not going to suddenly stop using our devices and go back to ‘the good ol’ days’, so data and its usage are here to stay. But we believe privacy and ownership of your digital data is a concept that will become prevalent in the next decade.

In order to stay effective and continue to be able to offer us the free services we love to use everyday, the ad networks need a lifeline. But it has to be one that rewards users fairly for their data, instead of the big Tech companies unfairly profiting from exploiting their users’ data.

This new movement is already underway.

In recent years, several companies have begun to pay users for their data, including:

Gener8

A web browser, currently still in Beta mode, that lets you decide whether or not you want to keep your data private, and if you don’t then it rewards you, at present, with a maximum of 10 points a day. According to the website: “Points will accumulate in your account until you are able to redeem them for exclusive offers, tech products, gift cards or make charity donations.”

Brave Browser

Brave is another web browser that takes your privacy seriously and offers faster browsing by removing the ads, unless you opt-in. If you opt-in to view ads which won’t compromise your privacy, you are rewarded with Basic Attention Tokens that can be spent online, or at the end of the month withdrawn as cash.

Digi.me

A technology platform that makes it easy for users to collect their own data and store it in a private, secure, decentralized library. Apps and companies can then request to use this data in exchange for rewards of some kind.

UBDI

UBDI stands for Universal Basic Data Income. According to its website it: “helps people make money by sharing anonymous insights from their data that companies need for market research. We use private sharing technology to ensure only aggregated, anonymized information from members is used.”

A fairer internet is inevitable and we believe the Oasis network is part of this new movement

As you can see, there are some great companies creating waves to give power back to data owners. They are all moving in the right direction, using the technology currently available.

But do you really want to move over to another browser just to avoid ads?

How will this affect the small businesses that really do grow through targeted advertising?

Are we cutting off major lifelines for the entrepreneur by moving to technology that limits targeted ads in favor of privacy?

The good news is there is a different way to solve this problem. A solution that helps everyone; the user, the business owner, and the ad network, and rewards all sides equally for their input and participation. The growth of users on Brave and Gener8 proves that rewarding users to show ads is an acceptable reason for people to accept tracking.

The Oasis Network

With the Oasis Network, data tokenization and privacy-preserving computation functionality are built-in. That’s important as it enables two things:

  • Users have the ability to connect and upload data sources (think about one profile with your app, internet usage, financial, fitness, social habits and location data), and sell their data as tokens on the network
  • Data buyers can analyze whether or not those tokens are valuable to them, determine prices and pay to use it. But, best of all, this can be performed without ever revealing the personally identifiable information to anyone.

Building a use case like this would mean users get paid for sharing their accurate data profile with buyers looking for it. Data would never be stored in one centralized database, vulnerable to attack, and, more importantly, it would never be revealed to anyone. Users would retain full control and visibility over who is using their data at any one time and what they are using it for. The data token, your data token, would be in your wallet, in your custody. Just as an NFT sits there, so would your data. All wrapped up and accruing rewards from the buyers you consent to share it with.

Privacy-preserving technology will be groundbreaking for the advertising industry as it would mean data sources previously off-limits from analysis and targeting by ad algorithms could become available. Credit card transaction history, health and fitness data, online music and entertainment streaming habits could all add layers of personalization that help businesses advertise more successfully. While as a user, choosing to add that extra layer of data could also increase the value of your data token and bring you more income and rewards.

Sounds like a win for everyone. Is it?

It certainly has the potential to be:

  • Internet users: Will be paid for sharing their data in return for allowing targeted ads
  • Businesses: Improved audience data accuracy will make advertising more effective and cheaper
  • Ad Networks: Can reward users for seeing relevant targeted ads based on more accurate data

The land of potential is well and truly here.

Here at Oasis Protocol, our amazing community is already building successful data tokenization projects:

  • Nebula Genomics has tokenized human genomics data. This has opened up a marketplace for researchers to privately analyze data and purchase only what is relevant.
  • TheMusicFund has tokenized artist’s future Spotify income, to give an upfront loan on that income to support artists as they grow

They may be different use cases, but they show the potential of data tokenization.

It’s broad. It’s exciting, And best of all, the biggest use cases with far-reaching society shifting ramifications haven’t even been realized yet.

If you’re looking to build on the Oasis Network a use case that helps bring this fairer world around. We want to hear from you.

We’re offering huge grants to companies that help the Oasis Network grow to its full potential.

You can engage with the Oasis team on any of our social media channels:

· Public Slack channel

· Public Telegram channel (for community discussions open to everyone)

· Telegram Announcement channel (for one-way updates from the Oasis Foundation)

· Twitter

· Discord

· Youtube

References

[1] “Digital ad spend grew 12% in 2020 despite hit from pandemic “, CNBC, 7 April 2021: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/07/digital-ad-spend-grew-12percent-in-2020-despite-hit-from-pandemic.html

[2] “Data Never Sleeps 8.0”, DOMO, 2020, https://www.domo.com/learn/infographic/data-never-sleeps-8

[3] “How Much Data Is Created Every Day? (2021 Statistics)”, 16Best.net, 2021, https://www.16best.net/how-much-data-is-created/

[4] “How much data is generated each day?”. World Economic Forum, 2019, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/how-much-data-is-generated-each-day-cf4bddf29f/

[5] “IAB: Digital ad revenue rose 12% in 2020 amid rebound from pandemic”, Marketing Dive. 2021, https://www.marketingdive.com/news/iab-digital-ad-revenue-rose-12-in-2020-amid-rebound-from-pandemic/598019/

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