The internet’s economic model is broken – here’s how we can fix it

Ethical technology start-up Bubblr has been on a seven-year journey to fix a broken internet. After the US patent office approved it’s patent for a design for an alternative economic model for the internet, it is now poised to transition from newly listed start-up to global technology player, with an ambition to become a fully-listed NASDAQ business within 18 months.

Why is the internet broken?

There are three key stakeholder groups in the current economic model for the internet: ordinary people who use it to search for information, services, and products; content providers who create content to be paid for and consumed; and online suppliers who use the internet as a marketing tool to acquire prospects and make online sales.

The underlying ad-tech economic model that currently powers the internet emerged by accident after the dot-com crash of 2000-2001. Until the crash, Google and other VC-funded dot-com businesses were not under pressure to monetise their products. When the VC community insisted on a shift to monetisation, they adopted the practices of the only industry making money online at the time: the adult entertainment business. Its ad-tech blueprint was based on banner ads, pay-per-click traffic and attribution mechanisms. It was never designed to be a longer-term sustainable model, and this reality now rings true for internet companies.

Here’s why. Ordinary people have realised that their personal data is being used and abused by bad actors. Searching for stuff on the internet using Google is becoming more laborious, involving a trawl through an exponentially larger swathe of poor search results.

Small businesses find themselves locked out of using Google or Facebook for marketing leads since it is too complex and expensive. In many cases, their online participation is diluted because the market sector forces them to use costly intermediaries. For example, the lodging sector must use booking agents such as booking.com or hotels.com, who take a significant percentage of generated revenue.

Content providers are receiving ever-smaller amounts of revenue from banner ads. This has led to the demise of established news outlets, especially those for local news. It has also led to the emergence of clickbait and publishing content that is often deliberately false and controversial to acquire more views and feed an advertising model instead of producing truthful, high-quality content.

Cracks are already visible in the established ad-tech model. A debate has emerged questioning the effectiveness of ad-tech expenditure on mobile devices. Procter & Gamble recently cut $200 million from its digital ad spend and increased reach by 10 per cent. Google is already losing search traffic for specific categories of goods and services. People are increasingly using single-purpose mobile apps to purchase things such as takeaways or train tickets. Mobile shopping is booming and has increased by 300 per cent in the past four years.

The digital manifestation of Bubblr’s patent is the company’s development of an ad-free marketplace. The ad-free marketplace is an alternative economic model for the internet that, by design, provides a superior stakeholder experience that is both fair and sustainable rather than the established ad-tech economic model that emerged by accident:

• Ordinary people can anonymously access the internet with their privacy protected, as there is no data harvesting or personal tracking.

• Small and medium-sized businesses can compete with large corporations based on their online performance in fulfilling customers’ needs, instead of how much they have in their marketing budgets.

• Content providers are rewarded for producing quality content without any third-party ad placements. The economics are based on content consumption rather than clicks.

Bubblr intends to lead the way for ethical tech firms. The ad-free marketplace is a technology platform that cuts across industries, services and products. It will disrupt how e-commerce functions and provide net-new technology for the masses, business partnerships, and licensing opportunities. It can fix the problems that now favor big tech, which can signal the beginning of the end for ad-tech.


Find out more about this “Moonshot” ethical technology company at www.bubblr.com


by Steve Morris CTO and Founder, Bubblr Inc.

© Business Reporter 2021

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