An Introduction to Web Monetization
The world is moving at a speed of GB/s, with advancements in technology and communication being rapid! From the decades of .com fiasco to times when digital is the new mantra, our lives have changed, and with the invention of electricity, no one knows what it feels to live without the internet.
The movement of people on digital platforms with many now making a living on the internet has introduced us to a new way of moving forward, doing business, and web monetization.
In simplest terms, web monetization is a way of converting the existing traffic being sent to a website into revenue. When considered in terms of technological jargon, web monetization is a proposed API standard that allows websites to request a stream of small payments from a user. This framework is an alternative to an earlier form of revenue generation, like pay per click or advertising. Remember the days when you would find multiple advertisements popping up on a website? With web monetization, they are expected to leave, giving you an experience of the website in the most holistic way! Have you heard of the Coil? That is one of the WM providers.
With users flooded with multiple sources of data and creators finding it hard to survive to create content, web monetization comes up as a perfect business model. The creators can garner their audience with free content, providing a way to earn money from users in exchange for premium services or content.
Security, well, there is nothing I have to tell that needs protection! This is a significant opinion, but imagine you have an opinion on a presidential candidate getting used up or sharing with your friend on WhatsApp, your opinion of a company, and ending up facing issues! With every click, you generate data, and it is getting used, influencing what you see, what you read, and subconsciously how you behave! World wide web is here to stay, and attempts are being made to make it safer.
Imagine going to the website of Harvard Business Review and wanting to read an article that demands subscription, but as you start delving deeper, questions of which currency to use, and which payment platform to use start puzzling your mind. If you decide to subscribe, you realize the subscription is required only for that one article, after which it is a waste! Web Monetization platforms like Coil help a great deal. One needs to register for $5 to the Coil, and you are free from registering on every website to read a two-page article, payments are automatically sent to the site.
Web monetization is geared towards enabling minimal payments. Since most traditional e-commerce websites move forward with large payments, allowing for smaller online ones comes as a distinctive approach.
How is it Happening?
Many people often confuse web monetization with advertisements or pay per click. However, web monetization differs on this one! There are two paths to how web monetization is being implemented, one is from the user endpoint, the other from the content creator.
- Users must have an account or subscription with a web monetization provider. The Coil is one of the WM providers present.
- Web Monetization agents must be installed in the browser with the necessary authorization to initiate a payment from the WM provider on behalf of the user.
- Web sites must run their web monetization receiver.
Web Monetization as a User
If you are user, you need to register on Coil, here, https://coil.com/signup. The subscription costs $5. Once you are registered, you need to download the extension for the browser of your choice. Once you are set up, when visiting a web monetized website, on the right-hand corner of the browser, you will find a pop up with Coil and a dollar sign. Clicking on that shows that Coil is paying for you.
Web Monetization as a Creator
If you are a creator, you need to register on Coil as a creator. The next thing is getting a payment pointer from a wallet provider(there are tons of them). Once the payment pointer is set, you need to add that to your website. The following code can do the final set up -
<meta name =”monetization” content = “Add payment pointer here”>
The meta tag is added to the head tag of the website.
Why do we Need It?
Web monetization offers a standard when several services are providing a means to monetize the web and generate revenue for creators without selling advertisements. Although this is a good idea, most of the services require users and content creators to join a common platform, for instance, Youtube! This results in a fragmented web with closed content and service silos, instead of a free-flowing platform that crosses the physical borders. To add, users often let go of their privacy because the service is collecting information from the user and offering it to the content creator or service provider. This results in a link being created. For instance, when using Amazon, you make a payment to a particular customer, Amazon stores it in its database, your credential along with the purchase you made. This is the reason you often get the suggestion on things that you may like.
Web monetization decouples the provider and the receiver. With the browser's use, the privacy of users is protected, and payments cannot be used to track a user across multiple websites.
Web Monetization works on two major technologies that enable open and interoperable payments between providers and websites for small amounts: inter ledger and payment pointers.
Payment pointers are used to conveniently and securely express a URL that points to secure payment initiation endpoints on the web. They resolve to an HTTPS URL using simple conversion rules.
Interledger is a payment processing messaging protocol for making payments of any size that can be further aggregated and settled over the existing payment methods. It is used both by the web monetization providers and receivers. Interledger is not tied to a single company, blockchain, or currency.
The Final Flow
Let us now conclude by understanding in simple terms, the flow of how web monetization works. Users sign up with a web monetization sender while websites sign up with the web monetization receiver. Both the sender and receiver are capable of handling a small amount of money. When the user visits the website, the browser parses a <meta> tag containing the receiving address of payment. In the browser, the creator decides how much payment must be received, and the web monetizer receiver is contacted to get the unique receiving address for payment for the current session.
The browser begins sending small payments via the user's WM sender, and for each payment, the browser sends an event that the website can listen to.