What is Web3 or Web 3.0?

Have you heard of Web3 or Web 3.0 ?

Or, did you assume that it was a typo?

The term Web 3.0 is used by different people to mean different things.

For the business community, startups and venture capitalists, it’s a way to hype a product or service by giving it the sheen of cutting edge technology. 

For others, it’s an aspirational dream of a democratic online world not dominated by big corporations.

To help you answer “What is Web3?” for your organization, this article defines Web 3.0 and the related technologies to understand how you can use it.

What Is Web3 Defined?

While the definition of the Web 3.0 continues to evolve, don’t let that stop you from getting up-to-speed on what it is and how it will change your marketing and business. But beware of companies, startups and venture capitalists who use the term “Web 3.0” to hype their products and/or services.

Dubbed by John Markoff in 2006, Web 3.0 applications focus on the user experience rather than on document discovery and consumption. As Nova Spivack, a leading technology futurist puts it: “We are going from a Web of connected documents to a Web of connected data.”

In July 2018, Fred Wilson defined Web 3.0 as follows with the accompanying related tech stack chart :

“Web 3 is the next generation of the web in which decentralized apps (dApps) operate on top of a shared data layer and users have control of their data and the ability to move between dApps with little to no switching costs. … We (individuals and/or companies) own these identifying data elements and we can provision them in any app we want.”

The Web 3 Stack -What Is Web3 by Fred Wilson

Web 3.0 envisions an evolution of the Web from a network of interlinked pages into an intelligent database that enables individual entities (people and robots) to conduct business without the need of intermediaries. It address the back-end of the web, after a quarter century of focusing on the front-end.

Web3 is a term that is used to describe many evolutions of web usage and interaction among several paths. In this, data isn’t owned but instead shared, maintaining different views for different  publishers of that data.

What Is Web3?

What Is Web 3 Defined By Its Characteristics

Through the use of  artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies, Web 3.0 allows individuals to own their data and receive compensation for its use. In the process, Web 3.0 achieves its ultimate goal of giving users full control of their digital lives.

Artificial Intelligence is proving that accurate, relevant information can be delivered to end users faster than with keyword searches. An AI-powered website can filter through the data it thinks a specific user will find useful according to user’s needs and context.

Here’s the Web 3.0 definition some marketers give (via LinkedIn post comments):

Brian Piper:

“I describe Web3 to marketers as an environment where consumers can become collaborators, where digital ownership can create a strong and engaged community, and where transparency and verification can build trust and personalization capabilities that we have never had before.”

Janice Mandel:

“Web3 is essentially a decentralized internet made possible by the tools and philosophy folks use to build the 3D worlds we connect to call a Metaverse. These tools are transformational in the level of engagement and choices for commerce they enable with customers and prospects. With great power comes great responsibility to maintain public trust.”

How Do Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 Compare?

► How is Web 1.0 Defined?

The first iteration of the Web was created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 while working at the Center for European Nuclear Research (CERN). It was defined as a network of interlinked documents with a simple markup language (HTML) to provide basic formatting. Sir Tim placed his creation in the Public Domain.

The Web remained confined to academia until 1993 when the first graphical Web browser, Mosaic, was created and distributed for free. Shortly thereafter, management of the Internet was transferred from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to a consortium of telecommunications companies. This put an end to NFS’s “no commercial use” policy and the Dot-com era began.

Most Web 1.0 users consumed content in contrast to the few content creators. Many of the pages were static, personal web pages hosted on ISP-run web servers, or free web hosting services. Media formats were limited to formatted text, simple images and animations.

► How is Web 2.0 Defined?

The term, Web 2.0, was coined by Darcy DiNucci in her 1999 articleFragmented Future,”  The term  increased in popularity in 2004 with the First Web 2.0 Conferences (later known as the Web 2.0 Summit) held by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty.

Web 2.0 saw the expansion of browser capabilities made possible by faster computer processors, cheap data storage and high-speed bandwidth. HTML evolved along with Web 2.0 adding Cascading Stylesheets (CSS) and scripting languages like JavaScript and PHP.

Marketing further drove the evolution of Web 2.0 by adapting new technologies and open-source applications to extend their reach with targeted, engaging content—especially video—on any device.

Web 2.0 introduced the social and participative web. In the process online tools and platforms were created to allow people to share their perspectives, opinions, thoughts and experiences. As a result, Web 2.0 applications made end-users participants as well. The key tools included:

  • Blogging
  • Podcasting
  • Tagging
  • Curating with RSS
  • Social bookmarking
  • Social networking
  • Social media
  • Web content voting


Web 1.0

Web 2.0

Web 3.0

Goals Information access Connect people Replicating reality
Usage Read-only brochureware,
Simple input forms
Read-write dynamic pages,
blogs, wikis, SERPs
Metaverse, IoT
Companies, Institutions
Craig’s List
Communities, Social media
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
Intelligent Assistants
Hosting Services Independent ISPs,
AWS, Godaddy, WordPress
DAOs, VR platforms
Browsers Lynx, Mosaic,
Netscape, Internet Explorer
Chrome, Safari,
Opera, Edge
Firefox, Tor, Brave
Media Text, GIF images
Flash Animations
Jpegs, SVG,
Streaming Audio and Video
3D Immersive media
Data Not data-driven Oracle, MySQL,
Microsoft Access
Blockchain, IPFS
Search Engine
Lycos, AltaVista,
Yahoo, IMDB
Google, Bing
Amazon, Craig’s List
Private, AI-powered
Revenue Streams Banner ads Interactive Advertising
Affiliate ads
Behavioral ads,
  https://HeidiCohen.com/what-is-web3 Copyright ©2022, Heidi Cohen. All rights reserved.  

What Are The Key Features Of Web 3.0?

Web 3.0 is the next evolution of the Internet as technology, most notably through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchains to build platforms and services that learn on their own faster than people do.

Simply put, Web 3.0 is defined as being a departure from the Web 2.0 way of doing things.

Web 3.0’s goal is to return users full control of their digital lives, including:

  • Identity: Usernames, biographies, status, profile pictures, contact info, etc.
  • Digital Rights: Controlling who can license your digital creations
  • History: Shopping, traveling, browsing and other activities
  • Health: Medical data, visits, prescriptions, etc.
  • Targeting: Control over the information advertisers are allowed to use.

► How Does Web 3.0 Work?

Web 3.0 starts with the Blockchain. Blockchains are decentralized, distributed ledgers that can be used to store data shared among many different parties. It’s the technology behind crypto-currencies and  NFTs, non-fungible tokens that can’t be tampered with or deleted.

Decentralization means that the blockchain’s data is replicated over a large network of servers. This also ensures transparency and a secure environment. Once on the blockchain, data is permanent.

In Web 3.0, NFTs are used to authenticate identity and ownership rights to both digital and real-world assets including:

  • Identities including Usernames, biographies, status, profile pictures and contact info.
  • Digital Rights regarding who can control and/or license your creations.
  • Personal history such as shopping, traveling, browsing and other online, digital activities.
  • Financial assets, transactions and the use of digital wallets.
  • Health information including medical data, visits, prescriptions, and more.
  • Educational transcripts making it easier to verify course completions and honors.
  • Advertising targeting allows individuals to control the information advertisers can use.

Cryptocurrencies are fundamental to Web 3.0 transactions, more so than with fiat (i.e. government issued) money.

The use of crypto-currencies, such as Ethereum and BitCoin, for NFT transactions allows users to remain anonymous and bypass banks and credit card companies.

Web 3.0 proponents say that returning control over digital assets to users will allow them to monetize their personal information. Digital artists are already creating NFTs for their work and selling them in NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea without the need of agents or galleries.

Besides individual artists, control of ownership can be shared by a community. This will provide incentives to form new kinds of organizations and business models where individuals have a greater say in how things work.

Web 3.0 foresees an world of such decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) operating entirely online and providing many of the services now controlled by large corporations. In Web 3.0, personal status in a community is determined by proofs of work and contributions authenticated by NFTs.

Web 3 convergence

Smart contracts are another key component of Web 3.0. Smart contracts is a technology that allows for a trustless society which does not need 3rd-party middlemen to guarantee that arrangements between individuals can occur when certain conditions are met. It’s a powerful tool that can make the world a far better place and generate more opportunities for everyone on the internet.

What Are The Key Web 3.0 Applications?

The Web 3.0 world, when fully realized, will be one of connected, Decentralized Applications (dApps) that function on a peer-to-peer basis providing services without the need for central platforms. These services are and will be built on top of blockchain technologies.

► Key Web 3.0 Technologies and Applications


What it does


Securely encodes data and communications such that only a intended persons possessing a key can decode and view the content.


Stores information as records as transaction ledger entries in a decentralized, distributed database using cryptography to assure privacy, authenticity and permanence. A blockchain serves as a platform for secure digital applications (dApps).


Provides a means for monetary transactions that don’t require an itermediary such as a bank, or credit card company. A crypto coin has a published value and can be exchanged for government issued currencies (referred to as fiat money)


Used to represent a unique digital or real-world asset on a blockchain in a manner that verifies its ownership and other attributes. An NFT serves as irrevocable certificate of ownership for a specific digital asset.

Smart Contracts

Provides a set rules to automatically connect transactions on a blockchain to implement escrow arrangements and other agreements without the need for a intermediary such as a financial institution or law firm.

Social Tokens

A methodology for recognizing contributions to members of a community through the issuance of a cryptocurrency specific to that community. Social tokens confer status and can often be redeemed for VIP access to community events and swag.

Creator Coins

A means for individual artists, content creators and brand influencers to reward their most loyal fans for their support. Like social tokens, creator coins can be used to obtain special access and/or discounts to the creator’s future work.
Copyright ©2022, Heidi Cohen. All rights reserved.                         https://HeidiCohen.com/what-is-web3


The science of securing data and communications such that only a person possessing a key can decode and view the content. Earlier forms of cryptography required the physical exchange of codebooks and keys before messages could be sent securely. On the Internet, these old methods have been replaced by public key cryptography: a system using two keys to encode and decode content—one public and one private.

For Example:
When Bob wants to send a secure message to Alice, he encodes it using her public key. Alice can then decode the message using her private key. The secure https: protocol now used by most websites relies on public key cryptography. The public keys are exchanged under the hood between the server and the user’s browser, so the user isn’t bothered by the details.

The use of cryptography was heavily restricted by the US Government for national security reasons until around the year 2000, when most of these restrictions were lifted. With the move from URLs using the http protocol to https starting about 6 years ago, cryptography is now an essential part of Web 2.0.


BlockchainA blockchain is a shared and decentralized database. Records on a blockchain are replicated across a large number of networked computers that continually update each other. As a result, the data on a blockchain will last forever.

The records on a blockchain comprise a transaction ledger. Transactions are recorded only once in the ledger and are never deleted or modified. These records are collected into blocks each of which is cryptographically signed making it almost impossible to hack, change, or cheat the system.

Although the design for a blockchain was originally laid out in 1991 by W. Scott Stornetta and Stuart Haber, the term “Blockchain” didn’t begin to acquire importance until Satoshi Nakamoto introduced Bitcoin in 2008. To this day, there is not much knowledge about who Nakamoto actually is or whether (s)he’s a single person or a group of individuals.

A blockchain serves as a platform for secure applications. The most important are:


A blockchain application that creates a digital currency individual units of which are called crypto coins. A crypto coin has a known value and can be exchanged for government issued currencies (referred to as fiat money). Crypto coins are designed such that they are nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend.

There are now thousands of different cryptocurrencies. BitCoin was the first and remains popular. Other popular cryptocurrencies are: Ethereum, Tether, Solana, Polygon, Stellar and Litecoin.

NFT (Non-Fungible Token)

An NFT can represent any piece of digital content. An NFT serves as an authenticated certificate of ownership of the content and can be “minted” for any digital file that resides on the internet, including:

  • Digital artworks and other creative works.
  • Documents including legal papers
  • Tickets and event passes
  • Redeemable coupons for goods and services
  • Records of attendance, e.g: school transcripts

In common usage, the term NFT is often used to refer to the digital asset itself rather than the token that identifies that asset and provides information about it such as ownership, location and access permissions.

Smart Contracts

A smart contract is an NFT that contains executable code that can be triggered when related records are added to the blockchain’s ledger.  This allows, for example, escrow arrangements without the need for a intermediary such as a bank or law firm.

Ethereum, an open source platform that allows developers to create decentralized applications on top of it, was the first to add such smart contracts. Other blockchains have since adopted Ethereum’s smart contract protocols.

Social Tokens

A type of cryptocurrency issued by a community to its members to recognize their contributions such as contributing content or recruiting new members or serving on committees. By providing proofs of contribution, social tokens confer VIP status upon members that often come with special perks and other rewards such as access to private messaging channels.

Creator Coins

These are similar to social tokens but are typically issued by an individual creator or brand influencer. For example, a book author may reward someone with a creator coin for subscribing to their newsletter, writing a review or taking a survey. Creator coins can be used to obtain early access and/or discounts to the creator’s future work.

Using the above technologies, new business have sprung up. Some examples are:

  • Augur – a prediction market that allows users to bet on anything from elections to sports games.
  • Filecoin – a decentralized storage network where people can rent out their hard drive space in exchange for tokens.
  • Appy Pie – is an AI-powered platform that allows users to generate digital art from uploaded samples and mint NFTs which can be sold on an NFT marketplace.
  • VR Future Genesis – a virtual reality world where Aliens & Droids unite against the mysterious Ancients. The platform is focused on community engagement where VR Future NFT holders are able to win rewards and have voting rights on what content is produced.

What Terms Are Often Confused With Web 3.0 But Are Not Web 3.0?

Web 3.0 is not the Metaverse. But the Metaverse will be a part of Web 3.0. Actually the Metaverse doesn’t exist yet. What does exist are hundreds of individual, virtual reality (VR) worlds. Many of these VR worlds have evolved from gaming platforms and only a few of them, notably Decentraland and Sandbox, are using Web 3.0 technologies. What’s missing are interoperability standards for acquired digital assets so users can jump from one virtual world to another while keeping their good looks and special powers.

In a sense, the Metaverse is stuck in a Web 2.5 world. In order for it to mature and attract a broad base of users, hand-held controllers and heavy goggles will have to be replaced with voice interfaces and full-wall, high resolution 3D video displays.

As people will spend an increasing amount of their work and leisure time in the Metaverse shopping, socializing and learning, those VR worlds that use Web 3.0 technology and adhere to its principles should be more democratic and secure.

The relationship between web 3.0 and virtual reality is still being explored and understood. The possibilities for combining the two are endless.

Web 3.0 is not the Internet of Things (IoT). Yet computing will become more ubiquitous and the computer is slowly disappearing into our pockets, ears, store displays, car dashboards, TVs & appliances. Web 3.0 technologies and AI will make these devices more secure and interoperable.

The term Edge Computing is also mentioned in connection with Web 3.0. This term applies mostly to the IoT space and refers to smart devices that store data locally in order to be more secure and responsive. In contrast, Web 3.0 aims for a world where data is widely distributed. That said, to the extent that smart devices need to be connected to the Internet, they will eventually become part of Web 3.0.

Web 3.0 is not the Semantic Web. This vision of an intelligent infrastructure powering search and discovery never really took off despite billions of dollars of investment by IBM and others. Essentially, it proved just too damn hard to semantically markup hundreds of millions of websites around the world.

By contrast, Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Speech Synthesis, branches of artificial intelligence, have made tremendous progress in the past few years giving us high-quality language translation and intelligent assistants. Web 3.0 envisions a global, AI-powered world allowing peer to peer interactions using natural languages.

What Does Web 3.0 Mean For Marketing?

The short answer is everything. Although utopian, the goal of Web 3.0 is to diminish the power now wielded by large corporations. This will certainly change the strategies brands use to target their audiences and convert them into customers.

Marc C. Angelos says:

“Web3 provides a whole new way for Marketing, Sales (and frankly businesses in general) to deliver a more engaging customer experience (CX) to the customer. And CX is the key to commerce going fwd. Web3 or otherwise.”

Companies should soon come to realize that “NFT” and “Web3” are more than fancy terms for using a new technology to enroll their “superfans.” This isn’t about art. It’s about forming up communities that support missions

Major global brands are already acquiring property in the Web 3.0 Metaverse:

  • Atari – No surprise since the Metaverse started with gaming platforms. Atari owns virtual property in both Decentraland and The Sandbox where visitors can play Atari-themed games and attend branded events.
  • Samsung – The Electronics giant launched its metaverse location, known as Samsung 837X, in Decentraland earlier this year replicating the design of its flagship store in New York City. Visitors can examine products and engage in immersive experiences with NFTs, games, product introductions, and live performances.
  • Adidas – The sports products brand has established a presence in The Sandbox where it offers its collection of NFTs, exclusive branded content, experiences, and items for purchase.
  • Miller Lite – Molson Coors has constructed the Meta Lite Bar in Decentraland with virtual pool tables and virtual beer on tap. During the Super Bowl, visitors were able to win real beer and IRL experiences.


As control over personal data and online activities is returned to users, advertisers will have less information to target consumers without first asking for their permission and, possibly, having to pay for it.

New opportunities for advertising in the Metaverse will open up. These will be similar to what companies currently do in real life and with Web 2.0 websites but will be immersive and interactive. Advertisers will be able to rent ad space on the exterior walls of user properties and make product placement and event sponsorship deals.

Direct Marketing

NFTs will be adopted by brands to reward their influencers and to engage customers post-purchase. Several brands are already experimenting with one-of-a-kind versions of their products. Chevrolet, for example has auctioned off a unique NFT for a special version of its Z06 model Corvette in mint green. The real car, which comes free with the NFT, is guaranteed to be the only one of its kind.Covette Z06 NFT

Search Optimization

Focus will shift away from keyword optimization as people increasingly use voice search and digital assistants. Consumers will want hyper-personalized results forcing marketers to optimize content for specific yet long sentences.

Requires Voice Content.

Customers will no longer read text-based content but instead want to interact vocally with content. They’ll navigate the Internet with the help of their favorite digital assistants speaking in loose sentences in their preferred language. Marketers will need to spend more time creating rich content and making it available to voice-enabled devices.

► How Does Web 3.0 Improve Business Success?

Businesses will increasing their use of AI to understand consumer behavior learn their content preferences.

  • Increased personalization: Web 3.0 will make it easier for businesses to personalize their products and services for individual users. This could lead to a more customized and enjoyable experience for customers.
  • Greater data security: With web 3.0, businesses can better protect their data from cyber-attacks. This could help to keep customer information safe and secure.
  • Improved customer service: Web 3.0 could help businesses provide better customer service by making tracking customer interactions and preferences easier. This could lead to more satisfied customers.
  • Increased efficiency: Web 3.0 will allow businesses to automate more processes and tasks. This could lead to greater efficiency and productivity within companies.

Web 3.0 Conclusion

Web 3.0 will change the way we do business and interact with one another. It has the potential to disrupt many industries such as finance, healthcare, transportation and government services.

Web 3.0 builds on prior iterations, Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.

Start by finding out more about Web 3.0 and look for small projects where you can test its potential. May be you can even do a variation of the examples in this article.

Smart marketers will adapt and create new opportunities

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen



October 10-13th, 2022 in Arlington, VA.

The market for Voice/AI solutions is growing exponentially.
Join me to learn ways to transform the user experience.

Look for my session: Voice Marketing Made Easy:
How To Profitably Attract, Nurture And Grow Your Audience.

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Photo Credit:  https://pixabay.com/illustrations/network-web-internet-communication-1614045/ cc zero
Corvette NFT image released by General Motors for publicity.


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