The end of the year is a great time to look at what lies ahead. Because I prefer asking important questions over making bold predictions, I’ve lately been wondering: What will digital marketing on a post-Web2 internet look like?

When people think of Web3, they likely think of the blockchain and crypto and other related technologies. I’m not so sure that’s where we’re headed. But maybe those details aren’t so important.

What did digital marketing on Web2 mean?

When I think of digital marketing on Web2, I think of easy metrics.

Google was free to collect and report seemingly endless data points via Google Analytics and other platforms. Siloing social media into a few major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter made reaching the masses easier than in the early days of Web1.

It was easy to know where to find your customers. And it was easy to collect data and create reports to see if your marketing efforts are paying off.

Slowly but surely, those days seem to be coming to an end.

What will marketing on Web3 look like?

As data collection practices improve by legislation and other platforms lose their appeal as users tire of engagement algorithms and senseless internet drama, the web seems destined to fragment more in the coming years.

Metrics and data will still be crucial going forward. But what metrics and data will we focus on as the landscape changes and information we once took for granted is now harder to come by?

How will we define success if we’re getting fewer results from more channels?

Will fragmentation require businesses to be more thoughtful in their marketing? To invest more in building more genuine communities? Might sites like reddit become more important in the future of digital marketing?

The original hope of the web

I recently re-read Tribes by Seth Godin to see how it stood up fourteen years after its original publication. Re-reading the book reminded me of the techno-optimism so many of us shared in the early 2000s. Fast forward nearly a decade and half later, and many of the tools we once loved now seem like our worst enemies.

Maybe Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight was talking about the big dogs of Web2 when he said:

Either you die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

As I’ve already said, I’m not in the prediction game. But my questions give some insight into my hopes.

And with that, bring on the new year.