There are three big players in the online ad industry: Amazon, Google and Facebook. Google and Facebook alone account for more than 50% of all revenue in digital advertising worldwide. When you search for a product or service, you go to Google, type in what you’re looking for, and Google happily serves you with the results. At the same time, Google keeps a record of all your previous search queries and of all of the websites you have visited so far. Same does Facebook. All this data is then being used to serve you search results and ads for products and services targeted to you.
The problem is, you’re giving away a massive amount of information but you’re getting almost nothing back. Remember, data is digital gold. So maybe you don’t want certain searches to be indexed? Or maybe you prefer seeing the full picture when you’re searching for product A, but the most personalized offers possible when you’re looking for product B? You can’t because you don’t control your data. Personalized search and advertising claim to be suited to you but in reality, it’s a one-way agreement: No matter what you want, your digital footprint is being analyzed and used to offer you search results and ads that claim to reflect the person you are.
BitClave is building a decentralized search engine and digital ad ecosystem where users have full control over their data. When you do a search with the BitClave app, your personal information is not going to the servers of the internet giants. Instead, it is stored on the blockchain in encrypted an anonymized form. Only when you give your consent, your personal information can be attributed and associated with the real-life you. But why would you give away personal information anyway?
In BitClaves ecosystem, users are being rewarded for making information available to advertisers. Advertisers, in return, can then use this information to create ads and offers that will most likely convert an interested user into a buying user. The two main beneficiaries, therefore, are advertisers and users. BitClave is taking away power from the big players in the online ad industry and creates a direct link between buyers and sellers. The current online ad system is bloated up with a massive amount of players that all take a share of the cake. Have a look at this picture. All these companies are between you as a user and the companies trying to sell you stuff:
The BitClave ecosystem is called BitClave Active Search Ecosystem (BASE) and consists of four main parts:
1) The first and main link to the BitClave ecosystem will be the BitClave search app. When you type in a search, your information is being sent to the blockchain and stored in encrypted form in the Anonymous Activity Ledger. You can also decide to disclose that information. It can then be associated with you and used for targeted ads and offers by advertisers such as online retailers. Each time you make information public, you’re being rewarded with BitClave Customer Activity Tokens (CAT).
2) The Customer Activity Token serves both as a reward for users and as a currency in the BASE ecosystem. It incentivizes the use of BitClave and is needed for parties to run services on the blockchain.
3) The blockchain itself is built upon Ethereum. It is the central point of access for all parties involved in the BASE. By using blockchain, users and companies can negotiate with each other without a middleman. While in the classic online ad industry, users have to give up information by using certain services like Google, the BitClave blockchain allows both parties to set up individual smart contracts with individual conditions: Only when the users’ conditions are met, personal information will be disclosed and can then be used by advertisers.
In theory, the BitClave ecosystem is open to an endless variety of parties. Everybody can store and read information on the blockchain. All you need to do is register and find an agreement with the owner of the information that you would like to use. That way, a user can, for example, decide to make all of his search history public. Since BASE is an open marketplace, advertisers will most likely prefer creating offers to those users who give them the most information. The more information an online retailer gets, the better he can customize his ads and the more likely it is that a user will convert into a buyer.
Search history, however, is not the only information that users can store on the blockchain. Since BASE is an open ecosystem, it will allow people to create a variety of applications and services. For example, one could build a job network similar to Linkedin and allow his users to save their personal information on the BitClave blockchain. Advertisers could then use this information to create offers targeted to users working in the IT-sector. Online retailers can also implement a “Record my visit to BASE” button. Users can then decide to send the information that they have visited the store to the blockchain in order to get a reward and possible offers that might interest them.
BitClave’s project is ambitious. A lot of people have tried to create an alternative to the classic online ad industry. They have done so because there are good reasons for it: online ads are annoying, a growing number of people use ad-blockers, there are privacy issues, and the whole industry is bloated up with intermediaries that take a share of the cake without giving users, advertisers and publishers real added value. BitClave is somewhat similar to Brave and their Basic Attention Token (BAT) so it will be interesting to see which ecosystem gains adoption. That’s the critical part: If no one uses it, it won’t work. If they create a momentum, it could explode.
Disclosure: This is not an advertisement for the company’s ICO. I am not taking part in any bounty program. Also, this is no investment advice. Information might be inaccurate or miss out on certain parts. Do your own additional research if you’re interested in investing.