How we got here

1989: Where it all began

The basic architecture of the World Wide Web (www) was originally designed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 whilst working for Cern.

1994: WWW consortium

In 1994 he launched the WWW Consortium. This purpose of the WWW consortium was to allow academics to publish work openly and for other academics to be able to find, read and link to them. Berners-Lee was the inventor of the World Wide Web as a vehicle for sharing information, for free.

In the early days, there were only two groups using the internet

Content Providers who published articles

Consumers who could search, find and read these articles

Whilst email had been around for some time, it was specific to particular systems and connected via gateways.

The Word Wide Web relied on 3 key technologies coming together

Generic Email: The invention of WWW allowed generic connectivity

The concept of a browser was created to enable users to view HTML web pages

Search Engines: The first search engine, ‘Archie’, searched FTP sites to create and index of downloadable files

1998: The emergence of a commercial internet

Suppliers were introduced to the internet when it became apparent that the internet could be commercialised.

Suppliers and Content Providers websites were mixed together, but suppliers websites were used to sell services rather than provide free content.

The only way to find out about a supplier’s website was from the meta data within the website itself. You’d just publish a website and the search engines would find it based on the words on the web page itself.

This crude solution worked and there was a rush for people to create websites.

Often a company’s share value was inflated just because of the existence of it’s website. The dotcom boom was upon us.

The first market sector to exploit the 
commercial potential of the internet 
was the adult entertainment business.

They established all the early online marketing channels.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)

Cost Per click (CPC)

Cost Per Result (CPR)

Slowly, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) was becoming key.

It was a model that was always geared to those with the deepest 
pockets. The more money you had, the more traffic you could buy.

2000: Google cashes in

Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were academics who wanted nothing more than to produce the best search engine, following the Berners-Lee model.

After the dotcom crash of 2000, Google was informed by its major shareholder that they had to monetise their search engine.

Using the CPC model, developed originally by the adult entertainment business - with businesses having to enter an auction to buy keywords.

2004: Facebook follows suit

Facebook did the same thing. Whilst their model is different, it does have a lot in common with Google; Advertisers still buy keywords, however Facebook data can be used to target specific audience demographics e.g. location, gender, age groups, etc. Advertisers are buying a customer, not selling a product.

The rise of the intermediates

With PPC the default for internet advertising channels, the system become skewed towards established parties with the deepest pockets. Small businesses are effectively ‘locked out’. They can’t afford to use the internet to get marketing leads. SEO is no longer an option. Google AdWords is too expensive and very complicated. And so a new intermediate level participant emerges:

Price comparison sites e.g. booking.com, confused.com, go compare

Portals e.g. wikipedia

As experts in Google AdWords, Facebook ads and SEO, these intermediaries buy all the traffic from Google and Facebook at high cost and then pass that cost onto businesses by charging them a premium to join their ‘club’ in order to get traffic.

logos for booking.com, trivago, compare the market, money supermarket and hotels.com

As an example, booking.com charge businesses 30% of their booking fee and don’t pay their members for 30 days.

Additionally, these intermediaries side with the customer when it comes to disputes leaving little room for redress with their members who can be cut off from these sites at the drop of a hat.

2018: The demise of advertising networks

Other advertising networks are also being locked out by Facebook and Google - who are dominating the digital advertising market. Whilst Facebook and Google advertising revenues go up each year, everyone else’s goes down.

In 2018, the news industry in the United States made an estimated $5.1 billion from digital advertising, a sum spread out across scores of companies, where newsrooms hemorrhage jobs and small-town papers shutter at an alarming rate.

But one relatively recent arrival in the business had a banner year: According to a report from the News Media Alliance, Google almost matched the industry’s total digital-ad revenue with $4.7 billion brought in through search and Google News.

Intelliger, 9 June 2019

In the UK, Google and Facebook’s combined share of the digital ad market will reach 63% in 2019, according to eMarketer.

Its latest UK digital ad forecast predicts that the total UK digital ad market will grow more than 11% to reach £14.73bn this year.

Google will take a 38.8% share of the UK digital ad market, virtually unchanged from last year, at £5.72bn while Facebook will account for 24.5%, up from 22.7% last year, equating to £3.62bn.

The internet is broken

The internet is fundamentally broken. It might look likes it works, but it is failing everyone.

It’s failing users

The people who use the internet to search for information, consume content, and search for and buy goods and services.

Where once it was all about traffic, now, it’s all about user data. The value of the internet is driven by user data which is then exploited and abused in many ways including

To make money. Facebook and Google use cookies to track and monitor user behaviour and then use this to try and optimise advertising propositions.

For political gain. Since the Trump election in 2015 a number of ‘bad actors’ are emerging, abusing our Facebook data and using it for political gain. See The Cambridge Analytical Scandal, and Russian troll farms.

As the profile of this abuse of our data is being raised in the media, users are starting to feel rather used and abused by Facebook and Google.

According to research, around 30% of all internet users now use ad blockers, which can be problematic for businesses trying to reach their audiences, and tech platforms looking to demonstrate the value of their ad tools.

Social Media Today, April 2, 2019

It’s failing content providers

Since the Tim Berners-Lee model was established, it has always been accepted that content is free. As such, users now expect it to be just that.

Whilst there are some exceptions, e.g. New Scientist, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, who survive using paywalls, content providers generally only make money via banner ads (CPM, CPC). The revenue generated via this model is only going one way, down.

With so many pop up ads dominating our screens the use of ad blockers on is on the rise.

As CPM rates decrease, online marketing costs are going up. The only people who make money out of this particular ecosystem are Facebook and Google. In contrast, there is an existential threat to the whole established news media. A threat which has existed from the get go.

The result? The focus of media organisations globally has shifted. Rather than talking about journalistic news, they are now focused on how to make money. Journalistic and editorial standards are being destroyed by click bait. As an example, a journalist may ‘pretend’ to write an authentic article about ebikes. The article motivation is perceived to be a genuine review when really the journalist is making money every time one of these ebikes is sold. Which brings us very un-nicely to Fake News.

Without independent journalism holding governments and big corporations to account, the whole democratic process is undermined. Democracy won’t work without a 4th Estate to hold it to account.

It’s failing small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

The rise in ad-blockers and decrease in CPM rates has lead to such an increase in online marketing costs, that for the vast majority of SMEs, using the internet for online marketing leads is a non-starter. It’s just too expensive. Only large companies, portals and comparison sites have deep enough pockets to compete to be number 1 in users search results.

BUBBLR can fix it

This system evolved by accident - to suit 2 companies who control the ad marketplace. There is no reason it has to work this way.

That is where the Ad-free Marketplace comes in. By DESIGNING and patenting an alternative economic ecosystem, BUBBLR is changing how the internet works and it has nothing to do with ads.

For Users

Private: Annonymous and secure way to browse the web.

Trustworthy: Ability to search and find authentic information, products and services.

Ad-free: Superior user experience.

For Content Publishers

Sustainable: New revenue stream.

Quality: Promotes and rewards the creation of high calibre content and journalism.

Access: Direct 'real estate' on user mobile devices.

For Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Fair: A transparent marketplace that rewards genuine insights.

Increased reach: New channel to build & connect with potential customers.

Lead generation: High quality and at a fraction of the price.

Read more about how we're doing this on BUBBLR.com.