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Q&A: Tim Armstrong on Web3, data and the bundling of consumers

Tim Armstrong has seen the good and the bad of the web.

After employed in online ad sales in the 1990s, he joined Google and helped build its ads business right into a giant and was later leader of AOL and Oath through the Verizon days. Now, as founder and CEO of Flowcodea QR tech startup he founded in 2019 even prior to the pandemic drove rapid adoptionArmstrong is moving beyond the Web2 era to the planet of Web3.

Since this past year, Flowcode spent some time working with several blockchain-focused companies like the crypto wallet Metamask while also creating new methods to give NFTs to attendees of real-world events and venues. In accordance with Armstrong, the decentralized data structure of Web3 provides a higher degree of granularity which will enable new ways for companies and customers to communicate beyond the walled gardens of Web2 like Google and Facebook or data-sensitive ad-targeting.

In a recently available interview with Digiday, Armstrong discussed his vision of Web3 and how it compares with how past internet eras have changed companies and consumers.

This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Just how do the hype cycles during Web2 equate to how companies and individuals are considering Web3?

A very important factor that really sticks out is the mix of what Ill call a digital-physical asset, that is an NFT which allows one to append more info and data and relationship to it The majority of the interactions 10 years back with a brandname nobody kept tabs on it. I didnt as a consumer and the brand didnt either. In the event that you go 10 years in to the future, you as a consumer can tell immediately what all of the interactions with a brandname were and the brand can tell all of the interactions. Also it wont be separated by way of a system at the brand and something on the buyer sideitll be considered a joint system where both sides have the ability to look at data exactly the same way.

With tech changing so much during the last decade, can that long-term identity aspect last that long?

The identity space will probably change a whole lot within the next 10 years. My guess may be the same manner the e-mail address was an identity for folks within the last 20 years, a few of the areas of Web3 can be peoples identity later on. So you might picture NFTs becoming identities, you can find different blockchain elements which could become identity-based also, and therell be considered a much easier method for consumers to navigate through systems using Web3-related IDs. In the event that you said 90% of identity log-ins at this time require a contact address, in the event that you move forward 10 years, 90% of identity logins will demand a Web3 technology. And thats a difference.

The various bits of Web3 from blockchain and crypto startups to the NFT landscape always remind me of the massive and fragmented ad-tech ecosystem. How is this time around different?

Web1 and Web2 were a lot more traditional-looking with regards to the partnership where brands and corporations have almost all their stuff housed in the corporation and consumers were sort of externally of the partnership. The difference for building stuff today is you must take into account the two-way relationship with consumers I’d say the vast majorityprobably 95% of brands and companiesdo not need a two-way relationship making use of their consumers. And when I move forward 10 years, if youre among those companies, youre likely to have a genuine struggle on your own hands because individuals are getting more and much more been trained in the Web3 universe. The wall that was previously round the corporations is currently a wall round the relationship.

Talking about walls, what do Web3 shifts with consumers and companies mean for walled gardens like Facebook networks or the broader attention economy?

Web1 was a small amount of copying the offline world where consumers were forced to bundle around corporations. With Web2, people started bundling around apps, like there is sort of a universe where you sort of split up socially and split up around apps. Nevertheless, you were still sort of in a network. But with Web3, there’s going to be considered a bundling around consumers. Take into account the OTT space: Individuals are not likely to have 300 OTT apps for watching content. Theres no chance someones gonna have 300 subscriptions to 300 different platforms. You can picture a consumer where they will have 4 or 5, but its bundled around what the average person consumers interest is.

Thats a fascinating method of putting it, especially with Netflix now engaging in ads.

In the event that you look at Amazon Prime, Apple and YouTube competing for the NFL rights, you will be in a dramatically different world in 2 yrs40% of OTT streaming that occurs in the U.S. every evening is Netflixthat is really a virgin forest of users which has not been clear-cut to promote. Thats a fresh poolThen you have the beginning of the development of really big OTT platforms entering the final large category, that is a large amount of content. You add those three things up together and appearance at that time usage from consumers, all that stuff hasnt really hit yet fully. But if it keeps moving in the direction it really is, that is clearly a pretty fundamental shift.

Telcos have already been bundling wireless packages with Disney and Hulu, etc. How can you see giants like Verizon and AT&T playing a job in this new landscape?

Theyre natural bundlers because of this era. Because in the event that you assume the ultimate packet of bundling is just about the buyer themselves, then your those who are most agile at being with the individuals are likely to have the very best potential for helping bundle. Thats why Apple is powerful, Androids powerful, the telcos are most likely powerful there, however, many of the payment companies may be good bundlers. So are there plenty of opportunities there.

Telcos would need to dramatically shift their data policies or permissions. One massive difference between your telcos and the tech companies is that telcos approach data from the regulated consumer standpoint and the web companies have historically approached data being an asset to be utilized to trade value with consumers. Ive seen both of these from the within out and you can find different processes in various cultures there also it may or might not help whoever will are more than bundlers for the consumers, but I possibly could note that topic approaching in a large way and telco land.

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