Aashish Sharma

@AshishSharma31

How Blockchain Will Transform The Search Engines and the Web

In today’s connected world where everything is changing constantly, it can be a good idea to theorize or analyze blockchain based competitors to battle today’s tech giants with the primary focus being what would be required for one to win.

Google — The World’s Largest Search Engine

Google is one of the most complex organizations today, with numerous divisions as well as products that dominate everyday life. Let’s skip most of these areas and instead focus on advertising, which is their primary business model.

1. Google Search

Google has the lion’s share of the search engine market with more than 77 percent of searches globally being done on Google. In spite of the fact that 1.3 billion people live behind China’s Firewall, Google still owns more than ¾ of the search engine market. It is this dominance that has fueled the historic rise that Google enjoys. 86.5 percent of the Alphabet’s revenue is from advertising, mostly search ads.

2. YouTube

YouTube is currently the second biggest search engine globally and possibly the largest user-generated video platform in the world. It is estimated that 100 hours of content are uploaded by its users every minute. Credit Suisse estimated that Google Play and YouTube accounted for approximately 15 percent of Google’s revenue in 2015 and forecasted to reach 24 percent by 2020. If you consider the fact that Google paid just $1.65 billion to acquire them back in 2006, that’s quite a great deal.

3. AdSense

AdSense is the other piece of Google’s advertising supremacy. It allows websites to monetize via Google’s advertising platform without having to worry about the backend of finding advertisers. Google is responsible for handling everything and takes 32 to 49 percent of the ad revenue generated with the remainder going to publishers.

Investopedia estimates that AdSense revenues in 2016 accounted for 23 percent of Google’s total revenue, which is about $15.5 billion. The unfortunate thing is that advertising tends to focus more one viewership than quality, which leads to the degradation and clickbait titles common today. It is highly unlikely for the advertising model to change drastically anytime soon, which means that the great success that Google has enjoyed with AdSense is likely to continue.

How Can Blockchain Beat Google?

The primary focus of Google is on viewership, attention, as well as the “alleged transparency.” Google’s slogan of “don’t be evil” and mission of openly sharing information with the world is in conflict. This creates a scenario where Google is a god where only those that are willing to play by its rules are allowed in.

But, crypto will make things complicated for Google. The dominance of Google is mostly driven by the network effects of big data as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI) coupled with the force of habit, which is a near perfect storm.

However, at the same time, a lot of people in the tech industry have raised concerns about the role played by tech giants in people’s lives, especially with regards to the sale of personal data. The tech community has started taking shots from both users and politicians over their role in the 2016 US election.

1. Search

A blockchain based search engine/browser could help solve the problem of misaligned incentives.

Internet users have started using DuckDuckGo, which is a privacy-focused search engine after they realized the full extent of Google’s power and influence over their lives.

Instead of collecting users’ personal information to sell better ads, DuckDuckGo shows ads only occasionally, which are based solely on the search query.

It is worth noting that DuckDuckGo has just a 0.20 market share globally. Its approach offers many benefits for users, mainly disintermediating value with personal data, but there are still issues.

Google is able to dominate due to its AI expertise and data. They know their users better than they actually know themselves and are thus capable of delivering better experiences as a result. This is why search engine optimization for mobile marketing is important for business as it can utilise the search engine to get a business in front of huge brands.

It is the reason why Antitrust action is almost guaranteed to never happen in the United States. After all, the definition of monopoly in the US is based on poor experiences and consumer price gouging, which is the complete opposite of what the top tech companies today currently deliver.

You want the best results for you, now, and Google is very good at delivering this.

A blockchain based search engine (BBSE) can theoretically win here. In combination with an identity coin, a BBSE could use consumer data as well as preferences without the need to control or own them to display better and more personalized search results for its users.

If advertising was added, the users of BBSEs would benefit too, by earning tokenized “commissions” in exchange for viewing the ads thus eliminating the adversarial relationship that’s currently prevalent today.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a long way off. If you want to change user behavior, you must provide a solution that’s 5 to 10 times better than the existing product.

To reach a point where BBSE surpass Google’s market share, which currently stands at between 77 and 80 percent, is likely to take several years.

The vast majority of people give up their information and data freely without reading the terms of service.

2. Video

Competing with YouTube poses most of the same challenges as battling search. However, there’s one major advantage, which is that creators create the platform as well as value. The fact that YouTube’s advertising is not very effective for most creators, this could be quite interesting.

It is estimated that the average CPM (cost per 1000 views) to be expected from YouTube videos ranges between $0.5 and $5. It means that for every 1 million views of a video, you can expect to earn anywhere between $500 and $5,000. This is actually quite bad, considering that podcast ads earn 5 to 20 times higher CPMs.

Since YouTube is very competitive with a limited earning potential, it makes logical sense that creators would be willing to cross-populate content. A blockchain based video platform would have less competition and therefore a greater percentage of attention.

Once incentives are added for content creators to create content and onboard audiences, the reward quickly becomes more interesting. The first mover benefits create inherent network effects as well as time urgency — get your subscribers to come over before other YouTubers do it.

However, this still would take time, particularly when it comes to bringing sufficient viewership to earn good money. Fortunately, with quality content and enough token incentives, it is safe to say that news would spread.

The question is how quickly. Chances are that BBVPs would need several years to reach maturity. YouTube has more than 100 hours of video content that’s uploaded each minute, which is a lot of SEO rich, evergreen content.

Since YouTube is favored by Google, it would be hard to steal some of their search traffic.

Note: Dtube/Steemit is currently working on creating a serious threat to YouTube but it still has a long way to go before it manages to make any significant impact. Having said that, Steemit is one of the most active blockchain projects with a market cap of $1.49 billion and processes more than 1 million transactions daily.

3. AdSense

Advertising destroyed both journalism and the Internet. Once the world switched from subscriptions to display ads, quality slowly started fading.

Clickbait rules the Internet today.

More pageviews and eyeballs have created a world that rewards artificial attention. The quality of content and journalism have degraded — prioritizing flashy thumbnails, provocative headlines, and accidentally promoting some not so good leaders such as Trump.

Note: Trump actually won because he managed to create controversy, drive eyeballs, and thus ratings/rankings around the world. People’s disgust forced them to read his forced message everywhere like an evil billboard that’s inescapable.

In theory, a blockchain-based publication model may solve this.

The medium has done a decent job of illustrating the point, by allowing its users to Clap/upvote for articles they love up to 50 Claps. A similar model could help redistribute dollars to the publications and websites that users appreciate the most.

Other organizations and companies are trying to do exactly that with and without blockchains. However, it is a hard proposition since most people do not understand both the risks and power of personal information.

The vast majority of people have no problems with “being the product” and benefiting i.e. getting free access or content, for their contribution to the system.

It is believed that the one only way a blockchain based answer to AdSense could have any chances of being successful would be to use tokenized incentives for the early adopters to the system where AdSense ads have an if/then statement attached. If a user is a member of BBPM, no ads, but if not then display ads.

To participate in the blockchain based publication model, publishers could collude to create a “monopoly” in the market, creating a linearly sliding scale of advertising intrusiveness across all web properties thus encouraging laggards to convert i.e. Over time, websites across the Internet become increasingly less usable due to the increasing number of ads until readers choose to join the BBPM.

Having said that, it is highly unlikely that a “mafia-style” approach will be developed or even that change can happen in less than a generation.

Hopefully, this will help get rid of clickbait.

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