Ads on the Internet have problems — maybe Hivemind Communities and Native Ads might solve them

in #steemlast year (edited)


The way we have experienced ads on social media platforms has brought a lot of people to dislike the concept. This stems from a number of issues.

Irrelevance to context

A lot of ads become annoying (rightfully so) when they keep popping up and you are not interested in them. Or worse, they actually offend you. This is caused by a lack of relevance to the context in which they're displayed, among other things. When ads are displayed to people who are interested in what they say, they are taken well.

For example, I recently had no problem with seeing an image that was promoting SteemFest. It was actually quite informative; a friendly reminder even. It was relevant. I'm convinced that the same experience would be popular if it was an ad shown in many different Steem communities, once Hivemind is live.

Imagine there's a community for Gamers that has thousands of members. If someone has just released a new game and wants those people to try it out, they can just create an ad. The ad will be highly relevant in that community because all of the members care about games. Steem Communities will bring inherent relevance.

Ultimately, community managers will be responsible for allowing only relevant/useful ads to be shown in their community spaces. This will be a responsibility vested in them by the members, who are also free to leave and start another community if contentions and irreconcilable differences around these issues arise.

Hidden agendas that supersede community interests

Whenever there is attention for sell, there is potential for hidden agendas. This is made worse when there is no transparency around who made the ads and who approved them. The problems are further compounded when there is no way to collectively decide on action to be taken when ads violate a community's right to maintain their ethos.

That's a situation present on some social media platforms today.

With Native Ads, there won't be opportunity to do things "in secret" because ad related operations are recorded on the blockchain (the account that placed it, the moderator who approved it). Ads can be flagged and a public resolution process can be pursued. Transparency will play a big role in maintaining a community's power to control what happens in their space.


Some platforms prioritize the display of ads more than user experience. When you are trying to let someone become aware of images and text that may be useful to them, it is important to not disturb that person during the experience for which they came to the platform in the first place.

Many sites also cannibalize a lot of screen space to ads, leaving little room for the actual content you're interested in. This is a reaction to low ad rates where they try to make more money by showing more ads. An inefficient attention economy produces this kind of behavior.

With Native Ads, a community can create attention value that's separate from other communities. They can also control minimum bid levels if they want to. So it won't be about how much everyone else is paying in other communities, but it will be about how much people are willing to pay for attention in that community.

I believe that alignment of interests is a good step toward solving all these problems. Having all these ad related interactions and transactions transparently saved on the blockchain brings accountability and a way to see truth for ourselves.

That's what I hope to achieve with Native Ads for Steem communities: an optional, transparent ad system that creates free-market attention economies.

I am currently working on a new feature called Native Ads, that may be added to Hivemind Communities in a future update.

For an overview of the Native Ads feature and how it will work, read this doc.

If you would like to take a look at the code, visit the GitHub repo.

I post Development Updates on my blog @imwatsi.

header image from Pixabay


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