Swash Transforms Data Ownership

Swash (SWASH) is an Ethereum-based token that derives its value from anonymised consumer browser data. The Swash browser plug-in allows consumer data to be exchanged for SWASH rewards. Data buyers in data-driven industries such as market research and digital advertising are able to buy or licence Swash data through the native SWASH token. Swash is uniquely positioned as the world’s first data union with nearly a quarter million users or panel members; these individuals are referred to as Swashbucklers.

How is Swash different from Brave’s Basic Attention Token (BAT)?

The Swash plug-in works with all major browsers, including Chrome, Edge and Brave. While Swash is similar to Brave/BAT in privacy by design and user data agency/ownership, there are differences between the two projects:

  • BAT: advertisements (rival asset)
  • SWASH: behavioural data (non-rival asset)

In advertising, impressions are considered a rival asset or good. They can only be sold once. With regards to consumer data, it is considered a non-rival asset or good. This means it can be sold to multiple parties for various use cases. Through the Swash “surf and earn” model, consumers opt-in to share anonymised browser data in exchange for crypto rewards (SWASH) with 70% of profits returned to the community (Swash app users) in the form of SWASH.

How the Swash Data Union works:

Swash Data Union key attributes:

The evolution of Web2 Walled Gardens to Web3 Data Unions

The market research ($75 billion) and digital advertising ($491 billion) industries are fueled by consumer data. These industries historically partner with Web2 “walled gardens” such as Meta/Facebook and Google because they maintain the largest global audiences on the internet. However, these centralised consumer-facing platforms are facing headwinds in the form of data privacy legislation (e.g. GDPR, CCPA) and cookie degradation, especially in the European Union and California.

Swash provides data buyers with a cookie-free, permission-based audience data platform that operates through a simple browser plug-in whereby consumers receive cryptocurrency rewards in exchange for anonymised browser data. Consumers simply browse the web and data flows into the Swash Data Union. As more users join, the value of the union increases for data buyers and data contributors alike.

In the emerging Web3 landscape, decentralised or semi-decentralized platforms, such as Swash, offer consumers transparency, agency and ownership of their data. Meanwhile, data buyers that plug into Swash’s Data Union are assured business transparency and reliable data that is 100% privacy compliant. This is a significant upgrade from the Web2 data ecosystem that is complex, lacks transparency and is increasingly risky for data buyers to navigate given increased consumer data protection legislation.

What is Swash’s market opportunity?

Digital consumer behaviour will continue to fuel market research, digital advertising and other data hungry industries. Data unions such as Swash provide a platform for data buyers to understand consumer behaviour, while addressing the needs of all participants. In the 2.0 advertising technology (ad tech) landscape, Oracle Ad Cloud could be viewed as a peer to Swash. Oracle Ad Cloud is a component of a much larger enterprise IT platform and ad tech suite; however, a conservative estimate is an annual revenue run rate over $1 billion annually.

Source: Swash, market cap data February 1, 2022

A smaller, independent ad tech vendor such as Lotame has an estimated valuation north of $300-500 million based on revenues of roughly $80-100 million per year (based on Swash estimates). Due to the fact that audience platforms are so intertwined with larger tech stacks, there are few vendors in the 2.0 realm that map to Swash. It’s worth noting that key audience platforms such as Krux and Blue Kai were acquired by Salesforce.com and Oracle, for an estimated $700 million and $375 million, respectively.

Consumer data fuels the data economy

Global internet traffic in 2022 will exceed all internet traffic up to 2016 per the United Nation’s Digital Economy Report. This influx of traffic creates massive opportunities for advertising, market research, ecommerce and other segments fueled by consumer data – key sectors in the data economy.

In addition to data oligarchs such as Meta and Google, lesser known data orchestrators operate multi-billion dollar businesses by buying and selling consumer data. For example, data brokers (e.g. Experian, Equifax) and data marketing services specialists (e.g. Epsilon, Acxiom) maintain consumer datasets that inform credit ratings, marketing campaigns, and other data-driven initiatives.

To provide an idea of how valuable consumer data is in the digital world, consider the average revenue per user (ARPU) generated during 4Q21 and market caps for the following companies:

Company

4Q21 ARPU ($USD)

Market Capitalization

($USD in billions)

Amazon

40.00 *

3,400

Google

53.13 **

1,900

Meta/Facebook

10.12

935

Twitter

7.85

29

Experian

N/A

28

Equifax

N/A

35

TransUnion

N/A

22

* $9.7 billion in Advertising Services revenue; estimate 200 million Amazon Prime subscribers.

** $61 billion in advertising revenue during 4Q21; estimate 1 billion consumers worldwide use Google products.

The days of tracking consumers via third party cookies is coming to an end

Brands and marketers rely heavily on cookies in order to track consumers, optimise advertising campaigns and understand digital behaviour. Apple Safari and iOS browsers currently block third party cookies by default. This makes sense given Apple’s consumer-centric business that does not rely on advertising.

Meanwhile, Google’s Chrome will stop support of third-party cookies in the next year or two. The result? Brands and agencies will have limited visibility into how and where consumer engagement occurs across multiple digital devices, websites and apps. The Swash app and Swash Data Union provide a cookie-free alternative for understanding digital consumers.

Amid consumer data legislation and exit of 3rd party cookies, what solutions will marketers embrace?

Fifty-one percent of respondents to Innovid’s survey stated third-party cookies are “very important” to their marketing strategy. As third-party cookies exit the stage, these marketers and their organisations must adapt new strategies to understanding consumer behaviour if they wish to remain competitive in the data economy.

Source: Innovid

Audience data definitions (cookies)

Zero-party

First-party

Third-party

Proactively and intentionally shared data by consumers

Data collected directly from an audience based on their actions

Data collected by an entity that does not have a direct relationship with the user

An equitable value exchange between consumers and brands is long overdue and while consumer micropayments for participating in data unions may not seem significant initially, the network effect long-term will be rewarding for all participants. Earning crypto rewards that can go towards satoshis, a cup of coffee or a charitable donation is more appealing than "better ads" or a free annual credit report.

The tidal wave of business opportunities around consumer data is so massive that there is plenty of blue ocean for Swash and other projects that support the data economy. Given its addressable market opportunities and ongoing consumer data protection legislation.

Seth Ulinski

Seth Ulinski

Market research analyst, ad tech specialist and Web3 enthusiast; Ecosystem and Growth at Swash.