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So, WTF is Going on With Monetization at TIKI?!
We're creating a data marketplace. Monetization is a product of this effort.
So, what is going on with monetization at TIKI? This is probably the most commonly asked question that we get here at TIKI, and it is easy to understand why. Getting paid is awesome. Money makes the world go ‘round (or so some say). While monetization is obviously a feature many of our users covet, we felt it important to start with why monetization is so important—beyond the payout part of it.
So, why is monetization so important? Well, monetization is not about the money itself, per se.
Allow me to explain. What results in making money is actually a manifestation of the most important thing from a TIKI perspective: user data ownership.
In fact, data ownership is what makes the TIKI world go ‘round. It’s the spark that lights the flame that helps solve the major problem—the “data problem” we all face on the internet. From users to businesses, we’re trapped in a cat and mouse game. Users strive for more anonymity. Businesses strive for more data collection. Even if users go full-on anonymous (or try to), businesses aren’t just going to throw in the towel and stop collecting data. They’re going to find new ways to collect data, and the means by which they do this might be even worse than current predatory, sketchy practices.
So how do we put an end to this cat and mouse game in a mutually beneficial way? Well, we need a new game altogether. This new game starts with a very basic principle: users must own their data. With data ownership comes a myriad of new opportunities that didn’t exist before. With ownership users can control, sell, trade, license, lend, alter, delete data - and more. Users exercising their ownership rights is what creates this new game: the TIKI marketplace.
The TIKI marketplace is fueled by informed decision making. The ability for a user to quickly swipe right or left (yes or no) to declare their willingness to sell data or to disable tracking does something that isn’t obvious to an untrained eye. The act of making a decision assigns value. We already know businesses value data, but what about users? How much do you value your Netflix watch history? How much do you value your Google search history? Your Outlook email data?
Let’s take your Netflix watch history as an example. (This will be a simplified example; we’ll go more into detail on the mechanics of the marketplace in future posts.)
If you would never, ever share that data with any business willingly, then that data, to you, is priceless. All the power to you.
If you would sell it depending on to whom and for how much, then there is a value you’ve attached to your data. This creates a marketplace where you, the user, are the seller, and businesses are the buyers.
A business will buy data when the value created for their business is equal to, or exceeds your asking price, resulting in an ethical and mutually beneficial transaction (on the TIKI marketplace).
Data ownership makes this all possible. To sell something you must first own it; it is the glue that holds everything together.
What we are really doing is allowing users to license their data to businesses safely (anonymously). Let’s take another simplified example. Guardians of the Galaxy has quite the soundtrack, would you not agree? Regardless of your opinions on the music selection, Guardians used popular music in their film, such as The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Someone (Sony) owns “I Want You Back.” They licensed their song to Guardians, saying something like, “Sure, you can use our song. Here’s how much it costs and here are the ways in which you can use it, and for how long,” etcetera, etcetera. The owners of “I Want You Back” have assigned a value to the song. The creators of Guardians did as well. Their negotiation of value resulted in the song being licensed to Guardians. And, BOOM! Now, we can’t imagine the movie ending any other way.
The same sort of thing will happen with user data. Users will license their data to companies, similar to how “I Want You Back” was licensed to Guardians of the Galaxy. This is the same reason why if you post a video to YouTube with “I Want You Back” in it without the consent of the owners of “I Want You Back,” at the minimum you can get your video demonetized or have the audio removed, or, if you’re a habitual rule breaker, you could have your account removed or face legal consequences. Why? Because you’re not the owner of “I Want You Back,” and the rightful owners need to license their song to you.
Likewise, licensing helps solve the perpetual issue of businesses being hacked or operating in the aforementioned shady and manipulative ways. If businesses get caught doing something they shouldn't be, more often than not they simply say “Oops; sorry! We won’t do that again!” There is rarely any accountability. When users have ownership over their data, companies can have their data access rescinded when they do wrong. These normal contractual agreements already exist for pretty much everything else. If Guardians of the Galaxy misused “I Want You Back,” it is possible that they would have to replace the song in any future replication of the film, remove it from their official soundtrack, and potentially cease any known public distribution of the version of the film containing the song.
To once again reiterate: user ownership makes all of this possible. It’s the first domino. Afterward, the rest logically falls into place with an end-product being the glorious user payout everyone (including us) is so excited about.
So there’s the “why.” How about the “what?” As in, what needs to happen at TIKI in order for users to own their data? Well, the first thing we needed to accomplish sounds simple, but a bit more complicated in execution: we needed users. Why? Well, without users, we don’t have any user data. Additionally, without a significant amount of users, the amount of data we’d have access to would be negligible. Businesses don’t care about buying Shane and Mike’s data. But Shane’s data, Mike’s data, and data from 100,000 other users? Now we’re talkin’. Good thing our waitlist has pushed past 130,000 users. First mission accomplished.
Next comes the tech. Let’s try to break this down in a digestible manner:
Get data (Complete. We now have Gmail and Outlook data)
Assign data ownership, aka Data NFTs (in progress, target: end of Jan.)
Aggregate data safely
Knowledge Graph; Index data for mass consumption (in progress, target: end of Jan.)
Data integrity (complete, but will likely need another round of tweaks following beta testing)
Purchase / Compensation; Distribution of funds to users (designed, target: end of Feb.)
Last, but not least, comes the business side of things. This is the real “barrier'' between the status quo and the completion of monetization. We know businesses want data, but where do we start? It’s not a matter of supply and demand, but rather a question of what are you selling and to whom? Who is going to buy it? What are they going to buy? How are they going to use it? We need to give them something they can use easily and immediately. We can’t just give businesses a terabyte of data and wish them luck. When these questions are answered, then, alas, the monetization cycle will be complete with users getting paid. But how do we get them answered? How do we find our “books”? Huh? Bear with me.
As we have touched on before in our 100-day plan, the plan on the business side is very similar to Amazon’s initial entry into the market. Amazon had long-term, lofty goals of being a marketplace for everything, but they had to start somewhere. In their particular instance, their starting point was books. They needed to succeed in being an online bookstore before they could move onto CDs, DVDs, and before long, everything you can possibly imagine. Similarly, we are in search of our “books.” To help solve this problem, we’re running two important projects in unison:
Building a Proof of Concept (target: end of Feb.)
Completion of a functioning PoC will succeed in demonstrating an end-to-end system that can securely aggregate data from devices, anonymize it, use NFTs to attach ownership, add to our knowledge graph, and generate a useful, valuable report (i.e. a business consumable product)
It will also elicit a “WOW” reaction, i.e “If we got x data from users we could do a, b, & c, which we couldn’t do before.”
Working with our Steering Committee to identify critical use cases to structure a go-to-market strategy (target: end of Feb.)
The product of the above two efforts will ultimately become the MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This is just business-speak for a product with enough features to be usable. When businesses are actively using our MVP, we will have succeeded in creating the initial iteration of a functioning data marketplace. And of course, from the marketplace, comes monetization.
As you can see, there’s a whole lot that goes into this whole monetization thing behind the scenes that you might not see or initially understand. We hope this brings more clarity as to not just when users will get paid, but, more importantly, why monetization at all. We aim to change the way data is treated by making you, the users, the rightful owners of it.