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Wait, What?! Blockchain's NFTs are the New Cookies? Mojito's Raakhee Miller Explains

While covering the NFT.NYC 2024 Conference in New York City, BlockchainJournal.com editor-in-chief David Berlind caught up with Mojito CEO Raakhee Miller, who, for nearly two years, has been talking about the idea that NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are the "new cookies." David first heard her talking about the idea in 2022 at the Consensus Conference in Austin, Texas. But when it comes to the role of browser cookies as a means for brands and media sites to maintain intimate connectivity with their customers and users, the technical utility of the cookie is facing more significant headwinds than ever.

This erosion of the cookie's utility is largely attributable to three trends: native and third-party ad-blocking technology for web browsers (which can be configured to block cookies as well), the prevalence of cookie consent forms that give web users the power to reject specific cookies, and the recent announcement by Google that it's disabling support for third party cookies in Chrome. Cookies are literally on their way "out," which begs the question of how that connection can be reformulated in a way that does a better job of respecting privacy than cookies ever did.

Enter NFTs and the idea that the NFT is the new cookie. In the interview, Miller emphasizes how NFTs can offer some of the utility of the cookie while at the same time, relying on the principles of decentralized ownership of data and user sovereignty to give customers more control than they had with cookies. Drawing parallels to the cookie, Miller explained how NFTs enable brands to engage with consumers both online and offline, fostering a more transparent and consent-driven ecosystem.

Miller also discussed Mojito's role in helping businesses navigate this transition, providing both strategic consulting and technological solutions to integrate Web3 principles into existing marketing strategies.

(The full-text transcript appears below.)



Customer Engagement


By David Berlind

Published:April 14, 2024

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9 min read

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Full-text transcript of David Berlind's Interview with Raakhee Miller, CEO and founder of Mojito

David Berlind: Today is April 4th, 2024. I'm David Berlind with the Blockchain Journal podcast, and I'm coming to you from NFT.NYC 2024, a conference taking place at the Jacob Javits Center on the West side of Manhattan. And standing with me is Raakhee Miller. She is... She can wave. Hello, everybody! And, she is the CEO and founder of Mojito. Is that correct?

Raakhee Miller: Yes, CEO of Mojito.

Berlind: Yeah. OK. So, you are a speaker here at the event, and you're talking about something that's actually very timely, which is the idea that NFTs are the new cookies. And we've heard this phrase before. In fact, I first heard you speak about this topic almost two years ago at Consensus in Austin in 2022. And now, it's a little more timely because we have – in the last two years – [been] seeing the ad blockers show up on all the different browsers that not only block ads, but they also block cookies. You've seen regulations being passed where these cookie consent forms have to be shown, and people are electing to turn the cookies off completely, except for the ones that are most important to give you the user experience. And now, this year, Google announced that they're going to be – basically in Chrome –eliminating the availability of third-party cookies that track people as they move to different websites. And, as much as I know about how that works, that will affect this idea of retargeting so that when you visit – let's say Blockchain Journal – I could put a cookie on your system, and somebody could see that cookie. When you go to CNN and say, "Oh, that's a person who's interested in blockchain, let's give them a blockchain ad. So, let's talk about that. I want to dig in. When you say, "NFTs are the new cookies," what does that mean?

Miller: So, NFTs being the new cookies, it's all built on the paradigm of the Web3 being the new Internet, right? So, if Web3 is the new Internet and everything is decentralized, people own their data. They have sovereignty over their data, and they inherently are doing things that they are consenting to. So if a user or consumer engages with a brand and earns an NFT, for example... or buys a shirt that comes with an NFT as authentication. So, there's all these various consumer touchpoints which, you know, cookies are purely focused on online touchpoints, but NFTs can be used to track engagement even in real life. I could go listen to your podcast and earn an NFT that might give me a discount to, or early access to, your next podcast.

So, all the mechanisms that are incentivizing consumers to become co-creators and owners of what they do in the new Internet, that gets, that gets all stored and validated into anonymous token[s]. So, people are not giving away their privacy, but they're, you know, their interactions, what they like – they can choose to share it. And now, because, again, the essence of Web3 is that it's decentralized. Brands can now cross-pollinate and do what you're saying. Okay, someone at Mercedes can know that this person engaged with Prada and went to their VIP show, they're likely a good a consumer for me. And they can set up a special event where they give those pass holders access to those events.

So, there are a lot of ways [that] brands can come in now, and it's less stealthy and less invasive than how the current Internet works and cookies. And why is Google doing what they're doing right? It's all the centralized bodies, all trying to one-up each other. So, this allows for a much more anonymous, but yet user-consented ecosystem and that's why NFT becomes the new cookie.

Berlind: Technologically speaking, I understand the way cookies work. You put a cookie on somebody's system and then maybe somebody at another website can read that cookie, depending on the permissions that are surrounding that. But, if we think about NFTs, the whole idea is that when I take delivery of [an] NFT, that's my NFT. So, how does that work? How do how would a brand get access to something that belongs to me and, oh, by the way, there is this whole idea of anonymity in Web3, so, you have that issue going on. The brand wouldn't even know even if they have access to the NFT, which I'd like to hear more about. They don't even know it's me, so this seems very different from the way a cookie works.

Miller: Yeah, so they don't need to get access to you or your token. It's if... you think about the blockchain, Web3. It's a big giant... for lack of a... To oversimplify it, it's a giant database that everybody has access to. You don't need permission to access it. You can go on Ethereum and you can search for a token and see which wallet owns it, or search for a wallet and see what tokens that wallet owns. So the data is available for people to see. Yes, it's anonymized, but the tools of the future and how you analyze this data are going to be different. They're not going to be the same types of big data tools we have now. They're there are newer tools being developed to analyze and to gain insight for what's going on in the blockchain.

So, it is a difference. It's still anonymous. But the fact that it is... it's all decentralized and transparent for anyone. Access makes it the... And again, I think it's not exactly a cookie like you mentioned. I think it's... It's this idea that... this idea like in the new Internet transforms into this idea. So, it's making that leap with something we know, kind of providing companies with similar benefits, but obviously, it needs different tools, different analysis, and different methodologies.

Berlind: I'm trying to bridge what you're saying into my business, which is the media business. And so, I think about... Okay, somebody comes to my website, Blockchain Journal, and they view a story about the metaverse. I could issue them in an NFT that says, "this wallet address" – if I happen to have their wallet address, that's the only way I can issue an NFT to them is that they... if I know their wallet address – viewed a story about the metaverse. Now that's on-chain. There's this wallet address that has an NFT from Blockchain Journal and that represents an interest in the metaverse. So, are you saying that I can basically kind of publish that data, go out to a media partner of mine and say, "Hey, if you look for anything that originated from Blockchain Journal's address and that has this on it, that means that that is a wallet or it represents somebody who's interested in the metaverse." And that's a way we sort of forge these partnerships that you were talking about, like where companies work together.

Miller: Exactly. And you don't even have to know the user's wallet. Again, it's not stealth. The user is going to connect their wallet to your system.

Berlind: Yeah.

Miller: When they connect it, they will give consent to then... And you can... Yes, you can push an NFT, but that's typically not the way things are done. Users are claiming it. So, this is another thing that Mojito does is we help brands and a lot of sports teams and et ceteras – help consumers claim their... So, it's a free claim. It's a gift, but it's a gift that you don't just spam into people's wallets. They connect their wallets, and they claim it. And then again, typically, this type of engagement is set up with a future-looking... some kind of engagement. Like, if I collect five, I get early access. So, I think it's a different way of thinking about marketing and, inclusive marketing and community building. So the mindset is: now I'm building a community of advocates that are going to give me information, yes, but they're going to get something, too. And they're going to co-own this community and their participation in it, and I think versus... I think the current mindset which is a consumer mindset. They're the consumer. How can we get as much information? How can we sell them as much stuff? Of course, you know, we're all commercial organizations that still – there's still a bottom line. It's a corporate level. But the ethos is different, it's more community building, more consent building versus I think what's what kind of the current environment is.

Berlind: So you help your clients... Is it Mojito helps its clients figure this out?

Miller: Yeah, we help. We consult with medium to large-sized businesses, and we really don't distinguish between the size. It just tends to be a lot of larger brands that are trying to get into this space. They have a lot of legacy systems and legacy processes. So, we can come in and help draft, like, create a campaign from soup to nuts, facilitating a kind of like [a] crawl, walk, run approach where we help integrate with their existing ecosystem. Have them do little experiments and then go and go on to do something bigger and build out their Web3 user engagement. So, we do both the strategy as well as the technology.

Berlind: OK. And where can people find Mojito?

Miller: www.getmojito.com.

Berlind: OK, Mojito is spelled. M-O-J-I-T-O. Is that right?

Miller: Mojito. The sweetest way to mint.

Berlind: There you go. OK. And, one other thing: You mentioned marketing. I'm assuming that the person that you have, your conversations with at some big enterprise is typically going to be in the marketing department, like the Chief Marketing Officer or somebody on their technology team who has to understand how to make this transition from a cookie-based world to an NFT based world.

Miller: Absolutely, yes. So our... a lot of our touchpoints are as you correctly said, CMO's and head of marketing a lot of digital strategy folks. Sometimes R&D, like basically where they know this is space they want to get into, and then we'll talk with a lot of technology, people, CTOs, et cetera.

Berlind: Yeah. OK. Well, Raakhee Miller at Mojito. Thank you very much for joining us on the Blockchain Journal podcast.

Miller: Good Luck with everything. Take care.

Berlind: Thank you very much.

So, we've been speaking with Raakhee Miller, CEO and co-founder of Mojito. Thanks very much for joining us. We'll bring you more videos from NFT.NYC. We'll see you at the next video.

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