Digital marketing agencies and CMOs struggle with authentic reviews in Web2

Web3 has the potential to fundamentally change the internet as we know it. At its core, Web3 is the decentralization of the internet, allowing traceability, accountability, and near elimination of fraud. When marketers think about the authenticity of data, reviews, and testimonials, today’s Web2 is filled with fraudulent information, fake reviews, and paid testimonials; but Web3 will present an opportunity for brands and customers to have a truly authentic and trusted experience. 

Let’s start by defining what we are talking about. To understand what Web3 is, we need to understand what Web1 and Web2 are.

  • Web1: The internet we grew up with (well, some of us). Think: 1992 to 2004 Back then, we simply went to a website to consume the information the website created for us.
  • Web2: User generated web. This was a major shift, where more content was generated by us (“users”) than by corporations and governments. The advent of  social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc.), geolocation-based sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.), and review sites (G2, Glassdoor, etc.) had a lot to do with this. This is the web most of us use primarily.
  • Web3: Big evolutionary leap forward for the internet. At least that’s what they say. The main principle of Web3 is that it will be decentralized – rather than controlled by governments and corporations, as is the case with today’s Web2.

What does Web3 have to do with reviews and testimonials?

Today in our Web2 world, Amazon alone has well over 250 million reviews and growing. Eighty-two percent of adults check these reviews to make buying decisions. Yet only 3% to 10% of us actually write reviews, and studies have shown that 61% of reviews are deemed “fake.” This is true for consumer products/services as well as B2B reviews (product testimonials, product comparisons, customer success stories, etc).

The reality is that Web2 is not authentic, in fact it’s sometimes really hard to figure out a real review from a fake one. Black hat companies pay up-to $10k a month for “reviews,” automated bots generate millions of fake reviews every month, and reviews can be manipulated by algorithms or simply edited/deleted by corporations. Interestingly, the end user does not have ownership of their reviews. It’s also important to know that in Web2 most of the infrastructure used to access the web is owned by a corporation and to some extent, controlled by government regulations.

So how could Web3 affect review data? It’s somewhat unclear, however the main principle as I mentioned is a decentralized web and what makes a decentralized web possible are  what enables authentic data. Specifically:

  • Blockchain’s ability to change the way we store data online. Most importantly:
    • Encryption: data stored on a blockchain can only be accessed by people who have permission to do so – even if the data happens to be stored on a computer belonging to someone else, like a government or a corporation. 
    • Distributed Computing: The data is shared across many computers or servers. If one particular copy of it does not match all of the other copies, then the data in that file isn’t valid.
  • Trustless interactions and transactions, which can take place between two parties without the need for a “trusted” third party. 
  • Permissionless interactions and transactions, where neither party have to seek permission from a third party.
  • AI and the heavy involvement of machine-to-machine communication and decision-making will be needed to run many Web3 applications. As a result, detecting “fake” testimonials and reviews will be a lot easier. 
  • The metaverse will be the new front-end (VR, AR, etc.) of the internet, allowing reviews to be accessed in the metaverse in new ways and perhaps much more authentically.

It’s very possible that the principle of Web3 will have a measurable impact on consumer trust in buying decisions. I think we still have a long road ahead, but B2B and B2C CMOs (and the digital marketing agencies they work with) should start to think about how this might influence our pre/post sale/post engagement marketing activities in the near future.

For example, what will influencer marketing look like? What will authentic marketing actually look like? Who will influence the brand, the consumer or the corporation?

What’s certain is that Web3 is already here in pockets, it’s still got a long way to go, as does our understanding of how we should market and/or reinvent our craft to this “next” internet.

As marketers we all need to think beyond tomorrow! At ARPR, our crew is always tracking emerging trends and counseling clients on how to stay ahead. Visit our resource library for more.

Raj’s leadership style focuses on building strong cultures and teams that strive to tackle complex problems with innovative solutions for some of the best brands in the world.

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