- On June 30, 2022
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The Internet has had massive effects on human society. With an estimated 5 billion users worldwide, the Internet provides information and knowledge sharing, connectivity, commerce, communication, trade, collaboration, and entertainment opportunities. In advertising, the Internet makes it easy for businesses to notify, entertain, instruct, and communicate with clients. But the internet has always been a living, growing thing that has served different purposes over time, and will continue to change in the future. We have seen two major eras of the internet so far and are about to welcome a third: Web 3.0. The transition over to Web 3.0 is expected to bring about a number of new developments and enhancements that will mark this new era. Some of which may even increase the ease of using digital signage in business. So what is Web 3.0 and how exactly could it impact the digital signage industry? Keep reading for our exploration of this topic.
What is Web 3.0?
Web 3.0 and Web3 are common terms that refer to the 3rd generation of the World Wide Web. Each iteration of the web has had very specific defining features and ways that people use the Internet. They are also defined by how webmasters offer applications and website services in that time period.
Before we dive into what the future is bringing with Web 3.0, let‘s get some context with past generations. You can‘t predict the future of the Internet without having a thorough understanding of the past, so here’s a breakdown of earlier versions of the Internet, Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.
A Look Back at Web 1.0 and Web 2.0
Approximately 1989 – 2004
The origin of the first generation, Web 1.0, goes back to Tim Berners-Lee, an English computer scientist widely credited as the inventor of the World Wide Web in 1989. Berners-Lee was a CERN.2 researcher and a pioneer of the initial expansion of the Internet in the late 80s and early 90s. At the time, he had already been credited with writing HTML (The HyperText Markup Language), URL (Uniform Resource Locator), and HTTP (The Hypertext Transfer Protocol). Soon after in 1991, Berners-Lee created the first ever website and made the World Wide Web a publicly-available service.
As the mid-1990s approached, more Web browsers were being introduced, giving birth to Web 1.0. In 1995, the recently departed Internet Explorer was first released and, according to IWD, this period also saw a massive influx of new domain names. “In 1995, the National Science Foundation started charging user fees for registration of domain names. In just three years, registered domain names jumped from 120,000 to more than 2 million.”
One of the most notable takeaways from these early years is the Internet becoming user-friendly. No longer just a space for computer experts, the Internet was starting to become mainstream and used by the masses. Desktop browser access was now the norm and Email became a common tool in businesses, government, and personal lives. In the mid to late 90s, search engines like Google became a more commonly used tool. Some of the other main features of this generation include centralized infrastructure and static website content, most of which was read-only.
E-commerce is another major defining feature of Web 1.0. Many of us likely associate e-commerce with the Web 2.0 generation of the Internet because that’s when we remember online shopping driving changes in our consumer habits. In large part, this was due to the widespread popularization of Amazon during the Web 2.0 years. However, the 90s saw the birth of e-commerce in 1992 with Book Stacks Unlimited, and then continuing in 1995 when Amazon was founded.
Approximately 2004 – Current
While there wasn’t a singular day when we can say we switched from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, most trace the term back to 2004 when Tim O’Reilly popularized it. O’Reilly is also known for rebranding “free software” as open source software in 1998. According to O’Reilly, the web and tech communities faced a lot of doubt in the lead up to Web 2.0. After the dot-com bubble burst in 2001 and people lost faith in Internet related business, this triggered a major turning point for the web.
O’Reilly said, “Many people concluded that the web was overhyped, when in fact bubbles and consequent shakeouts appear to be a common feature of all technological revolutions. Shakeouts typically mark the point at which an ascendant technology is ready to take its place at center stage. The pretenders are given the bum’s rush, the real success stories show their strength, and there begins to be an understanding of what separates one from the other.”
O’Reilly’s conclusions about this era were correct, as Internet and tech related businesses made a strong comeback with Web 2.0. This generation of the web took many of the concepts from the previous generation of the web, expanded them, and made them even more relevant to the lives of everyday people. It brought about a major increase in interactivity, user-generated content, and social connectivity. In addition, Web 2.0 basically replaced the static web pages that were the norm in Web 1.0.
While Web 2.0 is still widely considered the current generation of the World Wide Web, many would argue that we are in the process of transitioning to Web 3.0. With that being said, many of the important markers of the second generation are still a significant part of how we use the web today.
This generation of the web saw the rise of social media as one of the prime ways that people use the internet. Web 2.0 is also when today’s big tech giants like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, etc. made their names and rose to power. Thanks to social networking, it is now easier for millions worldwide to view user-generated content instantaneously. Social media brands have provided monetary incentives to create engaging content, so more people and brands have focused their advertising efforts on digital content creation.
Other notable developments during the era of Web 2.0 have been cloud-driven services from a centralized infrastructure. This has been the norm over the last 15 to 20 years. And while some would say we are beginning to move away from centralization, the centralized web has been a characteristic of Web 2.0 for the bulk of the era.
Defining Web 3.0
Although Web 3.0 is still being defined, it is expected to give rise to a number of notable features. We will look at how these changes will alter current practices and trends in the digital signage industry. But first, let’s explore what the general defining features of Web 3.0 will be.
AI and Machine Learning
A key feature associated with Web 3.0 is the ability to provide more relevant data to Internet users, and to do it faster. One way that will be made possible is through AI and machine learning. It’s clear to everyone thinking about the future of the web that artificial intelligence and machine learning will become vital tools in our lives. AI is already being used in more industries and businesses than ever before to automate and make difficult tasks more efficient.
This technology will continue to grow even more advanced in terms of cognition and natural language processing. As they develop AI with more human-like capabilities that allow computers to process and understand information, the possibilities will begin to expand. People will find it easier to use data and algorithms to enable computers to learn and improve decision-making accuracy. AI will also make it easier to automate tasks that workers would normally have to spend a lot of time and labor accomplishing. The end result will be enhanced efficiency, safety, and quality control industries.
Decentralized Data Networks
After years of centralization, a decentralized web is one of the concepts being fronted as the rolling out of Web 3.0 looms. For example, decentralized finance (DeFi) and decentralized applications (dApps) will enable everyone to access financial services. You will just have to maintain an internet connection to access these services. Traditional business methods will be replaced, allowing more trust, innovation, and safety.
The idea of the web enabling an increase in decentralization actually goes back to the early days of the Internet during Web 1.0. According to the World Wide Web Foundation, a common sentiment among the early web community was an enthusiasm for the empowerment that the web offered through decentralization. The foundation said, “No permission is needed from a central authority to post anything on the web, there is no central controlling node, and so no single point of failure … and no “kill switch”! This also implies freedom from indiscriminate censorship and surveillance.”
Today, it seems that we’re getting closer and closer to the decentralized web that experts imagined back in the 80s and 90s.
The concept of the semantic web refers to an extension of the World Wide Web that allows data sharing across applications, enterprises, and community boundaries. People will be able to create data stores on the Internet where they build vocabularies and write rules for data handling.
Online vendors will be capable of focusing and customizing customers’ specific preferences, interests, and traits with Web 3.0. Targeted advertising relies on consumer data collection to customize solutions for each customer during their business lifecycle. This will be made possible by continuously tracking, studying, and learning more about consumer activity as they browse the Internet. With AI being used more often and continuing to advance, algorithms will be able to track consumer behavior and provide more customized content.
Data Privacy and Security
As it stands, centralized data networks do not always guarantee data safety and protection. In fact, one of the most prominent tech issues throughout the Web 2.0 generation has been massive data breaches. Especially since big tech companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc. have controlled our data for years, individual people have had little say regarding who their personal data is sold to and what happens to it. Fortunately, most expect Web 3.0 to offer a higher level of cybersecurity.
With Web 3.0 and its interconnected ecosystem of decentralized applications, users can use smart contracts to issue access to their data, which augments security. Therefore, Web 3.0 will be a boost in risk management.
The Metaverse is another interesting concept expected to be perfected in the Web 3.0 era. Put simply, the Metaverse is a 3D virtual reality representation of the Internet. The Metaverse is expected to offer social connection through the virtual world, as well as gaming and e-commerce.
Interactions in the internet and computing circles have come a long way – from text-based interactions such as emails and text messages to media-based interactions such as videos and photos. Now, the Metaverse represents an opportunity to make these interactions 3D oriented. As many companies seek to invest in the hopeful future that the concept of the Metaverse offers (Facebook being the most prominent example), a lot of the tech industry and web community will be focusing in on the developing Metaverse during Web 3.0.
Cryptocurrency and NFTs
Cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) will become commonplace. Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies that rely on cryptography to manage and secure transactions. NFTs are financial securities that have digital data. It is important to note that cryptocurrencies and NFTs are stored in distributed ledgers, or blockchains. We’ve seen crypto become a more common method of payment and an intense area of focus for many in the tech industry. Most expect these trends to continue their upward climb.
Blockchain-Based Distributed Services
Web 3.0 will bring forth blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS). With BaaS, companies will be able to outsource their blockchain cloud-based infrastructure management to professional organizations. For example, there will be blockchain-based Web hosting services that will run people’s blockchain apps.
With edge computing, you will be better placed to bring your enterprise applications in proximity to local edge servers and data sources. This process will foster quicker response times, faster insights, and improved bandwidth availability.
P2P (peer-to-peer) network architecture makes it easier for users to share large files. For example, in the iGaming industry, a gamer can download a game from another’s computer regardless of distance or file size. Web 3.0 will make it easier for internet users to share resources and data, which will enable widespread peer-to-peer computing activities.
How Could Web 3.0 Alter Digital Signage?
To sum up the mix of history and prediction we just went over, Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and Web 3.0 are how we comprehensively categorize the different eras of the web based on the tech trends and Internet user behaviors of the time. Now that we‘ve taken a broader look at what Web 3.0 is and what developments will accompany its rise, let us look deeper at how Web 3.0 will affect digital signage and the businesses that use digital signage technology.
More Targeted and Personalized Signage Content
With the onset of advanced AI and machine learning techniques, businesses can provide personalized signage content by relying on practices like sentiment analysis. With sentiment analysis, computers can learn customers’ perceptions and feelings regarding a given brand. This way, a company can know what type of advertising to front to a specific customer demographic and which ones to avoid. We have every reason to believe that this advanced type of targeted advertising could end up being implemented in digital signage technology. For example, digital menu boards or self-service kiosks will be able to provide more customized content for consumers.
Decentralized Wireless Networks
Blockchain could also revolutionize the signage industry because the evolution of connected signage is likely to be driven by a move to decentralized wireless networks. As it stands, blockchain technology is already becoming valuable in the digital signage industry due to the trust and safety involved. So, how can this be enhanced?
Content producers will work through decentralized databases where users will look for content that interests them. Advertisers will also be better placed to track the performance of ads than before. They will examine issues such as ad influence on customer spending, frequency, and production costs. Finally, the stability and tamper proof nature of the blockchain will enhance ad authenticity. See our Helium blog for more on decentralized wireless networks, and how they could change the digital signage space.
The final impact of Web 3.0 on digital signage is that businesses like restaurants, grocery stores, and more will provide more options for shoppers to pay with cryptocurrency. This process will ensure that payments can be easily tracked and that less time is spent completing transactions. Crypto payments are also convenient for buyers because they simply have to maintain wallets that are highly secured.
In one of our recent blogs, we explored the growing trend of restaurants allowing customers to pay with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and how digital signage technology may need to adapt. This new generation of the web will continue to see more widespread exchange of non-traditional currency, and as a result, businesses will have to adapt. Self-service kiosks will likely be a key part of this adaptation as businesses seek to implement convenient ways of offering the option to pay with crypto.
As a digital signage company always looking out for the next big technology trend, we’re ready to move into the next phase of the World Wide Web with you. Without a doubt, there will be major changes in digital signage trends on the horizon, but we’re ready to help your business face them head on. If you are interested in advanced digital signage technology for your business, contact Keyser today.