In this interview, Adir Buskila, Founder and CTO at Web3m, discusses how Web3 is taking on Big Tech giants Google and Meta.
I’d love to hear more about the founding of Web3m. What was your inspiration?
The vision for Web3m was sparked by my background in cybersecurity and (later) marketing. I was 12 years old when I started hacking. I loved the freedom of information available on the internet. I learned about privacy and data security by witnessing other hackers exploit and manipulate people online. Cybersecurity became my first career and I even managed the largest cybersecurity community in Israel.
One day, something occurred to me. Every black hat practice in hacking—fingerprinting, tracking, phishing, etc.—had a white hat equivalent practice in online advertising. Big tech companies made money using many of the same tools and techniques as nefarious hackers.
At first, my three best friends and I saw this as an opportunity to play big tech advertisers at their own game. Long story short, we used our hacking and data security chops to build a marketing company. It worked! We got to $100m in two years.
Soon, my inner 12-year-old hacker got the best of me. Rather than using data to make money, I was reinspired by the same vision that first drew me to the internet: decentralization. The Web3 community was hard at work building a better internet—and I wanted to be part of it. My partners and I pivoted to build a marketing platform that put users—not big tech companies—in charge of their own data.
In the end, that pivot resulted in Web3m, a decentralized multichannel ad network that allows advertisers to promote their projects across crypto.
Tell me more about launching multichannel campaigns in crypto. Why did you focus on that?
I should mention that Web3m is just the first tool in our ecosystem. There’s more on the way, like our innovations in the world of Inscriptions and Ordinals at digital-artifacts.io.
That said, Web3m is designed to help Web3 entrepreneurs advertise their businesses across crypto with the same ease as they advertise in Web2. The idea didn’t come out of nowhere. We consulted with dozens of marketers, entrepreneurs, agencies, influencers, and PR agencies. We inquired about the biggest challenges they faced when promoting their crypto projects.
Of course, many problems came up. Web3 is still fairly new. But there was one challenge that we heard about more than others: Multichannel advertising was highly inefficient.
The biggest online advertisers (like Meta and Google) were constantly changing their rules regarding which crypto ads were and were not acceptable. And if crypto marketers wanted to advertise on more niche websites, they had to manually negotiate each ad placement for every platform. Marketers needed a single platform to create, launch, and monitor all their advertising in one place. Web3m enables crypto marketers to do exactly that—and more.
Let’s return to the topic of data and advertising. What does the future of targeted advertising look like in Web3?
There’s no way around it: Advertising performs best for everyone (the advertiser, the consumer, and the network) with data. The biggest problem with small ad networks is their lack of data. Imagine selling banner ads on a casino website. If all the ad network knows about its users is that the visitor enjoys casinos and gambling, then the only targeted ads they’ll place are direct competitors to the website: other casinos.
On the other hand, a larger ad network can access more data. For example, if we know that the visitor just had a baby, and he is looking for a new stroller, we can sell the ad space on the casino website to a baby stroller company. The site visitor, the host website, and the advertiser all benefit from better information.
That’s where standard digital advertising ends. But Web3m takes the benefits two steps further. First, the data is much more detailed while remaining fully anonymous, giving advertisers better insights for every campaign. Second, we pay the site visitor (consumer) and the website for letting us use their data. It’s a data- forward advertising approach that rewards everyone.
Are you saying that Web3m users get paid when companies use their data in ads?
In Web2, effectively every website owner collects data about their site visitors. That data is sent to third-party companies essentially for free to be used in future ads.
Here’s where we flip the old model on its head. In Web3, websites still track data. But instead of sending that data to a centralized and walled garden (i.e. Big Tech), Web3m instead pays websites to send that anonymous web traffic data directly to the blockchain. We also pay the person whose data was collected.
This method decentralizes data collection and rewards both website owners and website visitors. Everyone gets compensated for their data. And their data remains anonymous.
How does Web3m adapt to changes in the digital marketing landscape?
Our goal is to put data back into the hands of internet users. The old model essentially locked up user data in a handful of major tech conglomerates. This meant that data power was centralized, offering almost no benefit to ad-hosting websites or consumers. It also meant that data became a walled garden whose dimensions (pricing and rules) could change at any moment. How many companies have gone out of business simply because Meta, Apple, or Google decided to tweak their ad platforms or change internal data policies on a whim?
Our model decentralizes that data by sending all data back to the blockchain, giving power to each user—and every advertiser—in equal measure. In other words, we’re not adapting to the changing marketing landscape. It’s more accurate to say that we’re the ones who are changing it.
How does the Web3m protocol balance the decentralized monetization of data while protecting consumer privacy?
Without getting too technical, we have developed a non-intrusive way to fingerprint a device without sharing personal details (like name or email). All users are completely anonymous.
Think of it this way: Everyone can create a wallet that acts as their fingerprint on the blockchain. Content on the blockchain is transparent but you can’t tell who owns which wallet, keeping the anonymous owner in constant control of their privacy. From the anonymous wallet, we can gather information from each website visitor—their past shopping tendencies, for example—while ensuring that each user remains in control of their privacy.
What sort of data and analytics can advertisers expect to leverage in Web3?
One of our biggest innovations at Web3m is wallet-specific marketing. We launched Web3m Analytics to give marketers access to on-chain metrics of the visitors to your website. I know that’s a little technical. Here are a few examples of the types of data website owners can leverage in their ads:
When was this visitor’s first transaction (How long they’ve been in the crypto space)?
What is their average investment size?
What is their preferred token?
What are their current token holdings (and sub-niches of interest)?
As I’ve iterated above, all of this information is completely anonymous. It is presented on the Web3m Analytics tool alongside the standard traffic analytics that we are all familiar with.
Web3m has fostered a large community of marketers. How important has this community been in the success of Web3m?
Communities are a beautiful thing that got a lot of attention with the rise of Web3. We believe that the secret to fostering a successful community is to never confuse community members with customers.
Strong communities are based on two principles: Sharing and building. The Web3m community is made up of marketers and entrepreneurs who love to share their experiences and knowledge. We’re all growing and learning together.
The community is also critical to what we’re creating at Web3m. The community believes—like I do—that Web3m is the future of marketing. They are contributing to that cause, supporting us, and guiding us to build useful tools for the industry. Web3m’s success is the community’s success. It’s a direct correlation.