Blockchain Social Media Isn’t A Bunch of Hoodoo – But It May Be HowDoobr>
HowDoo is a blockchain app that believes consumers and their digital footprints are being exploited by centralized, ad- supported networks. That’s why they are addressing some of those issues with a platform that gives the user ownership of their digital footprint, allowing them to decide on its use, and leveraging a micropayment infrastructure to tap into the rapidly growing interest in influencer marketing.
CEO David Brierley talked with Block Tribune about the situation and the social media landscape in the wake of recent privacy issues.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So how do you give the user ownership of their digital footprint? Walk me through how this works.
DAVID BRIERLEY: So, in essence, when the user comes on and basically signs up with HowDoo, they have complete control of what data is recorded. So if they don’t give us any permission, then the actual network won’t record anything. And they won’t be able to monetize themselves, because they won’t see any advertising or anything. They will just be in the dark, in relation to the network. If they decide that they don’t mind sharing some of their information … demographic, or some of like 98 data points that we’re theoretically tracking, then we’ll be matching advertisers directly with these individuals, and then they will receive a rebate subject to the actual spend of that campaign.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay, so this is, for want of a better word, it functions almost like a social network like Facebook? Where you have to log in and then you can go wherever you want on the Internet? Is that how it works?
DAVID BRIERLEY: In essence, it won’t … from the user experience, it won’t be dissimilar to the other centralized social networks out there today. And that’s one of the key drivers of what we’re trying to do, and that is that people don’t like technology for technology’s sake. A few do, yeah, there are a few that will buy it simply because it’s decentralized and it’s leveraging the blockchain. But the vast masses don’t care about the underlying technology. So we have to make the experience as good, if not better, than they currently get today. So you log on to your Instagram, you log on to your LinkedIn, your Facebook, whatever it is … exactly the same experience, what you have to do with HowDoo.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So will you be able to go to Facebook through HowDoo, or no?
DAVID BRIERLEY: Yeah, even in alpha, that came out last week, if you take a picture or video, we give you the ability to publish. So you can publish it to your HowDoo channel, but you can also push it out to, say, Instagram, or Facebook, and we’ll add more. And what we’ll be doing, and this really goes into more like data management, content management, IP controls, etc., is that we’ll be pulling back the statistics on anything that gets pushed out onto these other social networks as well. So the content contributor can basically sit and see the footprints across the internet on all different social networks, pulling it back into HowDoo.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay. Are there going to be any restrictions on what you can visit?
DAVID BRIERLEY: Very good point, very good point. No, so we have something … an algorithm that we developed called the proof of contribution. And there’s different … I can send you a bit more detail on it, but there’s different facets to this … but one of them is that we want to give the power of censorship to the actual community members. Now, we’re not talking about illegal things here. I mean, there’s certain red flags that we all know are just illegal. And we have algorithms that will try and sniff those out.
But there are other … from America … one of the big topics is guns … no guns, yeah … you … we want people to be able to have conversations about their likes without having some kind of central censorship which you currently see today with Facebook and Twitter; they have special algorithms that will filter things out that go against their own internal belief system. We don’t want that. So the [inaudible 00:04:17] contribution is something like this: if you belong to a group that loves everything to do with guns, they’re reviewing guns and etc., etc., now that group most probably will be private, so it will be invite only. If someone comes on there and then starts trolling, for a better word, etc. etc.. “This content’s bad” … no central authority’s going to get involved, but the community will have a vote. And the more you put into that community, the higher the proof of contribution score you get. So theoretically, the more work you do, the more authority you have. So this will stop spammers as well as trollers, just coming into groups that they want to disrupt, and they won’t be able to disrupt them because the group can censor that individual.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay. And by censor then, you mean block them from contributing to the conversation?
DAVID BRIERLEY: Yeah. Yeah.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay. Can they be ejected from the group?
DAVID BRIERLEY: Yes, they can. Yeah.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay.
DAVID BRIERLEY: And you can set up … you can set up groups in one of two ways. You can either set them up as an admin, or you can set it up as more of a consensus. Yeah, we’re going to give people both. But I strongly want to state here: we’re not building HowDoo to be this secret society social platform, yeah? We believe that there’s a clear distinction between freedom of speech and illegal activity. Yeah? So we’re not marketing ourselves and we’re not positioning ourselves as, “You don’t want the government to hear what you’re talking about? Come to us”. That’s not what we’re going for, yeah? We’re simply saying that … we’re not having a debate on the government, actually. What we’re saying is, “Should centralized social enterprises have more control on your digital footprint than yourselves or the government?” Yeah? And that’s really where our focus is.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: From an advertiser’s perspective, where will the ads appear? Will it be next to people whose presumed affinity for the product has been made apparent?
DAVID BRIERLEY: So, yeah. It’s … it’ll be different subject to if it’s a community or if it’s your own personal channel. So the way that we’ve developed it is, we want to get away from the obtrusive. So if you look at YouTube today: it’s a horrible experience. You’re forced to watch five seconds or nine seconds of a video, because how else can they get some advertising there? We’re trying to spin this around, and really trying to address the … perhaps the three or four key issues that the advertising world has today. And the big one is advertising experience, yeah? There’s a complete disconnect between users and advertisers, yeah? Users (sic) are trying to throw adverts at people, and users are trying to block it in any which way they can. So we will offer the advertiser the full ability for them to place their adverts where they want, which is another topic about issues today, is that they struggle … the social media platforms today struggle in guaranteeing product placement or advert placement. But that may be banner ads, that may be videos, but it won’t be obtrusive.
And the difference here is, is that … I’ll give the example: I’m in the UK, we’ve just come through a very horrible winter, I’m looking for inspiration for the holiday this summer. I don’t mind receiving adverts right now about holidays. So whatever I get fed regarding holidays is not going to be objectionable to me. I want it. And that’s what we’re trying to do is, is really enable advertisers to target their message to increase their [inaudible 00:08:49], because they know that people are going to be looking at this. They’re not going to be bots, they’re gong to be humans, because they’ve signed up to say they want adverts about this kind of genre.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: One of the issues that’s confronting YouTube and a couple of other social networks right now, is that advertisers have discovered, to their horror, that their advertisements have been placed on certain objectionable sites. How are you going to monitor stuff like that?
DAVID BRIERLEY: Yeah. So that’s where the beauty of the blockchain comes in. So what I’ll say is that the … first of all, they can select themselves. So every [puppet 00:09:32] group is going to be cataloged. So they can have a little dashboard: this group is made up of a thousand individuals. The average proof of contribution score is seven out of ten, and this is the genre. Yeah? So we can either allow them to pick and choose where on the social network they want their advert to be displayed, or they can go the other way and say, “I just want to get to that demographic, and I don’t really care where that demographic belongs to”. Now in that case, the first one: it could be a situation where an advert turns up in a group that they don’t like. But the beauty with doing it through the blockchain, is everything is fully auditable, so it removes the issue that we’ve currently got today, and that is, measurement and transparency.
They will be able to sit down after a campaign and be able to see exactly where the advert was displayed, and then they can then make a corporate decision about, “Well in fact, we didn’t get too much return from these areas, so we’re going to kick those off the next run”. So it will open up complete transparency of the networks to the marketeers. Which is the first time, because at the moment, it’s all black box, all middle [men 00:10:54] black box. And that’s why every other week, there’s a news story, or someone starts … yeah, tweeting about “block this brand because their advert is being displayed against this or that.”
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay. If you’re a content producer, what sort of revenue stream is achievable?
DAVID BRIERLEY: Well, that’s a great question, because I’ll spin it back to you rhetorically, and that is that today, content contributors have a very hard time in monetizing anything. And coming from the crypto space, a lot of people automatically assume, “Oh, you must be talking about YouTube”. Well, YouTube content creators are a small part of the larger market. And they’ve got problems, but those problems aren’t anywhere near as large as the traditional content creators. Could be an up and coming scriptwriter, or an up and coming band … how do they monetize? Today on YouTube, we all know, it’s very draconian regarding what they can and what they can’t monetize and how many eyeballs they need etc., etc.. And it’s only advertising which is one-dimensional.
So with HowDoo, we’re offering the traditional advertising route as we’ve already said. We’re also building in micropayments. And I’ll give you some examples: if you’re an up and coming band, you might have 600 fans in the local city that love listening to you. And you go round the local bars. You can set up your own channel on HowDoo, and you can start offering people … “On Tuesday evening, we’re going to be streaming a private jamming session of some of our new content, and it’s only going to cost you $5 to watch it”. They can do all of that on the HowDo platform. Or they’ve released a good song and someone loves it so much, they want to throw them a tip. In fact, we’ve … we are in discussions with a very prominent preacher, American preacher, that’s heard about our ability to accept micropayments. I mean, we call them tips – micropayments, in order to help them increase the monetization of their sermons. So there’s many different aspects and use cases for the tipping/micropayments element of what we’re bringing in.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: If your business model proves successful and really takes off, how will that work with traditional media? Will they be disintermediated, or will they be forced onto a platform like yours?
DAVID BRIERLEY: Yeah, I don’t know. I can make something up, but I honestly don’t know. It’s crystal ball. From my standpoint, we’re not positioning ourselves in any way as anti-marketing, anti-centralized platforms, etc., etc.. So we’ll be fully open; our APIs will be fully open, and we’ll be looking to work with these more traditional vendors. And so I would expect that if we get critical mass, where there are numbers and eyeballs … and this is not just about a numbers game, this is … I don’t want to say credited, but … the quality over quantity in relation to what we’re offering an advertiser … If they come on to the network, and let’s say in a year’s time, they run a report for a campaign that comes back and says there’s 10,000 individuals in this area of the country that have agreed to receive advertising in your genre, that’s worth … I mean, that’s gold. Yeah? Because today, they just can’t get it.
So we’re very much focusing on the nano influences, because we believe the ecosystem … users are there, they want to consume content. But in order to keep users and content creators on the network, you must inject it with advertising, yeah? It’s one big ecosystem. It’s the holy trinity from my standpoint. And if you look at the failures of social networks that try to come to market, a lot of them have got critical mass with users, but they’ve had to close shop within two years. It’s because they’ve forgotten about the content creators being able to monetize, and the advertisers. So we are trying to bring to market a new ecosystem that makes it more friendly for the big brands to run campaigns in a fully transparent way, and that they can increase their returns.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are your ICO plans?
DAVID BRIERLEY: In what perspective? What, numbers or the raise amount?
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Have you … do you have a date set for them?
DAVID BRIERLEY: Oh yes, yeah we do. So we … our presale opens on the 2nd of May, and that goes on for no longer than one month. And then we’ll go straight into our public sale. So the funding now really is open from the 2nd of May, and it will close around about the 12th of July.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay. Fair enough. Those are my questions. Anything that I didn’t ask you about that you want to bring up?
DAVID BRIERLEY: Only that we’re really focusing on trying to drive, or trying to break down the barrier … I know it’s not directly in relation to marketing, between … what’s the difference between a user and a content creator? The user could become a content creator. And one of the drawbacks is that a lot of people think that oh, it’s too much work, because we can’t monetize. So we’re really focusing on driving the nano influences, so making our platform very easy to use, that a big brand knows that running a successful campaign through nano influences has a 7x [inaudible 00:17:45]. But how do you do that? How would a brand today that wants to hit ten million people, successfully run that through nano? Well, you could be dealing with 2,000 nano influencers. I mean, how would you control that as a campaign? It’s mind-boggling. And today, they try and do it, but it’s very archaic. So I would say that that is one of the key cases that we’re going for, apart from the others … ad fraud and product placement, and all this lot … is also opening up the ability for big brands to run big nano influencer campaigns.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How far along are you in constructing in this platform? What do you see as the timeframe for roll out?
DAVID BRIERLEY: Yeah, so we believe we’ll be in final beta by November.